TAKING THE INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATIONS OF MEDICINE® EXAMINATION

The International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM®) program allows you to measure your knowledge and compare your performance against examinees around the world.

Medical schools and other organizations use the IFOM exams to help select candidates for exchange and training programs, award regional and national certifications, and prepare students for the USMLE® Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge exams.

Exam Content

The IFOM program is comprised of three assessments, including the Basic and Clinical Science exams and a Clinical Science Self-Assessment.

Click the tabs below to learn more about each exam.

The International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) Basic Science Exam is a comprehensive examination designed to assess examinees’ knowledge of the basic medical sciences.

The exam comprises 160 multiple-choice questions, most of which are presented in clinical vignette style, in order to assess your ability to not just recall but also apply basic medical science knowledge.

The following content areas are covered:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Histology and Cell Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Organ Systems
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology

The International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) Clinical Science Exam assesses the medical knowledge and understanding of clinical science considered essential for the provision of safe and effective patient care.

The exam comprises 160 multiple-choice questions presented in clinical vignette style to assess your ability to not just recall but also apply knowledge in clinical contexts. 

The following content areas are covered:

  • Family Medicine
  • Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Surgery

The International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) Clinical Science Self-Assessment assesses your knowledge of the clinical sciences in advance of taking the IFOM Clinical Science Exam.

It covers the same content as the Clinical Science Exam and includes 80 multiple-choice questions. 

Visit the Self-Assessment page to learn more.

Taking the Exam

While many administrations of the IFOM exams are arranged and conducted by schools and other institutions at their sites and on behalf of their examinees, the NBME also makes the IFOM Clinical Science Exam and the IFOM Basic Science Exam available for individual administrations two times per year.

Individuals can use this option in a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Personal benchmarking or practice
  • Application to a residency program, exchange program, or other opportunity that accepts IFOM scores
  • The examinee’s school or program is conducting an on-site IFOM administration but the examinee is separated geographically from their institution

The IFOM Basic and Clinical Science Exams are available to individuals, in English only, at participating Prometric Test Centers located in approximately 50 countries around the world.

There are two test administration periods per year; registration for each administration period is open for 4 weeks. The 2020 test window will remain open until November 6.

Please note the 2021 dates for registration, status verification, and testing, below:

2021 Exam

Administration Windows

2021 Exam

Registration Periods

2021 Status

Verification Deadlines

22 March - 28 May 4 January - 29 January 30 April, 2021
23 August - 5 November 6 July - 30 July 29 October, 2021

How to Apply

To be eligible to take IFOM exams as an individual, you must be a current medical student or a medical school graduate. NBME and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates® (ECFMG) will confirm your status with your medical school through a verification process.

How to Apply for IFOM Exams as an Individual

For complete and detailed information about IFOM exam individual administration, please read the Candidate Brochure.

  1. Register for your exam on MyNBME. Registration is only possible during the registration periods listed above.
  2. Pay for the exam with a major credit card. The costs shown below include the exam fee, eligibility verification, and seat time at the Prometric Test Center.
  3. Download the Status Verification Form, which you will send to your medical school. Officials at your medical school will complete the form and send it directly to the ECFMG. ECFMG must receive the required paperwork no later than one week prior to the start of the test window or you will not be permitted to take the exam.
  4. After your eligibility is verified, you will receive a testing permit by email and will then visit the Prometric website to choose a test site and time.
Fee for Individual IFOM Examinations

at Prometric Test Centers (Per Exam)

IFOM Basic Science Exam - $200
IFOM Clinical Science Exam - $300

Preparing for Your Exam

Examinees can familiarize themselves with the IFOM Basic & Clinical Science Exam web-based format by using the free 20-question online practice exams. Both timed and untimed versions are available.

In addition to the IFOM Clinical Science Practice Exam, the IFOM Clinical Science Self-Assessment Exam is an 80-question web-based exam built to the same content blueprint as the IFOM Clinical Science Exam. Learn more on the Self-Assessment page

Note: The practice exams are NOT intended to assist examinees in preparing for the content of the exam; it is only intended to familiarize examinees with the style and format of test questions they are likely to see on the IFOM exams if administered on the web.

Score Reports

Students who take the IFOM Basic Science Exam or the Clinical Science Exam independent of a school or other organization receive an Examinee Performance Report, which includes the examinee’s total test score and performance profiles outlining areas of strength and weakness, as compared to the International Comparison Group, in each content area measured by the exam.

Those whose IFOM Basic Science Exam or the Clinical Science Exam score is at or greater than the corresponding approximate USMLE Step examination passing score (Step 1 for IFOM BSE, Step 2 CK for IFOM CSE) also receive a Certification in Basic/Clinical Science Knowledge.

Interpretation guidelines are provided with the Examinee Performance Report. These help examinees understand all aspects of their score and include a score table that allows examinees to compare their performance on the IFOM Basic Science Exam or Clinical Science Exam to USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 Clinical Knowledge.

Exam Rules & Conduct

The examination materials used in the NBME examinations are the confidential, copyrighted property of NBME. If you reproduce and/or distribute examination materials, by any means, including reconstruction through memorization without the express written consent of NBME, you are in violation of the rights of the owners. Every legal means available to protect NBME examination materials and secure redress against those who violate copyright law may be pursued.

  • The confidentiality of examination content must be maintained at all times. You are prohibited from communicating, publishing, reproducing, or transmitting any part of your exam, in any form, or by any means, verbal or written, for any purpose.
  • If you become aware of any suspicious activity related to an NBME exam administration, notify the proctor or submit a report.
  • NBME reserves the right to discontinue examination services to an institution at any time in order to maintain the security and integrity of the NBME’s examination programs.
  • Do not bring any personal/unauthorized items into the secure testing area. Such items include but are not limited to, outerwear, hats, food, drinks, purses, briefcases, notebooks, notes, pagers, watches, cell phones, recording devices, and photographic equipment.
  • You are not permitted to access any unauthorized items during the exam administration.
  • Do not make notes on your note board prior to entering your CIN or start up code. Once your exam begins, you are permitted to make calculations or notes ONLY on the erasable note board provided.
  • You must adhere to the instructions provided by proctors administering the examination.
  • Carefully review and agree to abide by any instructions provided or that appear at the start of the examination session.
  • Test proctors are not authorized to answer questions from examinees regarding examination content, testing software or scoring.
  • Do not leave the testing site at any time during your administration unless you inform and obtain permission from the testing proctor or are instructed to so do by test administration staff.
  • Failure to follow test day rules and procedures may result in the withholding or cancellation of your scores, and/or a bar from future exams administered by the NBME.

If you are testing at a Prometric test center, please review the instructions on your scheduling permit and familiarize yourself with Prometric’s testing center regulations

NBME encourages you to provide information concerning any activity of which you are aware that may compromise the security and integrity of the NBME’s examinations. Please contact NBME using our contact form to report such information.

Resources

Visit the links below to learn more about the International Foundations of Medicine exams.

Score Reports

Practice Exams