Hi eveyrone. This article is for all those who are planning to apply for USMLE. Here are some basic instructions which I learnt the harder way (i.e. by experience). I hope that will be of use to all of you.
1. Don't think of going for a paper application. Its very tedious and takes a long time, especially if your deadline for application is close.
2. Please fill out the form (registration/authentication) on www.ecfmg.org in the iwa section when you log in for the first time. In a matter of HOURS they will send you an Eight Digit USMLE/ECFMG Identification Number and a temporary (one time) password. This ID no is very very important, in case you lose/forget the password. This is their only way of maintaining your infomation, they know you only by your ID number and your date of birth! In my case I kept getting mails with the 8 digit ID number but no password (they actually send it in a different mail for security reasons). I kept waiting for 20 days which were very stressful as all my friends had got their password in 2-3 hrs of authenticating online. All this while I kept trying to REGISTER again with a different email address, I even tried emailing the help section/site manager of ECFMG, but didn't meet with any success. :-( . Then I met Dr. Vineet (vineetgsvm, moderator, USMLE forums) on RxPG. I would give him all the credit for my password as he suggested that I call them up at the phone number mentioned on the ECFMG website (Philedelphia office of ECFMG). I did just that and viola, after just a 3 minute call (from net to phone) they sent me the password within 3 hrs :-) . All thanks to Vineet, if he hadn't suggested this, I would have stopped thinkng about USMLE altogether, I was so tired of waiting for password. I wish I called those guys much earlier.
SAMPLE EMAIL FROM ECFMG REGARDING EIGHT DIGIT IDENTIFICATION NUMBER
SUBJECT: Your USMLE(tm)/ECFMG(r) Identification Number is 0-123-456-7
ECFMG Online Services to XYZ
We are pleased to confirm that your USMLE Identification Number is 0-123-456-7 (example). You must include this number in all communications with ECFMG. Please do not submit inquiries to this mailbox. Messages sent to this e-mail address will not receive responses.
Registration and Credentials Services
3. If you get stuck at any point in the registration, then PLEASE DON'T EMAIL ECFMG. The best you can do, like I did, is to call their office. Net-to-phone or skype is really cheap 2 rupees per minutes, cheaper than standard calls and I bet any kinda problem won't take more than 5-6 mins to solve and its always better to talk live than send an email and wait for their reply and lose sleep over it :-) . You can always post your problems on RxPG and I am sure that you will get an overwhelming response from people all over India. I did and I am greatful to all of them, thanks friends. :-)
SAMPLE EMAIL FROM ECFMG REGARDING TEMPORARY PASSWORD
SUBJECT: ECFMG Web Site Authentication
ECFMG Online Services to XYZ
Dear Dr. XYZ:
Your access to ECFMG's on-line services has been established. Your one-time password is:
You will be required to change this password to a permanent password when you log on for the first time. Please do not submit inquiries to this mailbox. Messages sent to this e-mail address will not receive responses.
ECFMG Applicant Information Services
4. After you get your Eight Digit USMLE/ECFMG ID Number and the temporary password, please log in into the site by using them. Then you will go through a registration process which asks for security questions and your responses. Please note down exact answers to these questions, in casse you lose your password, you will have to answer these questions to retrive it. Your answers must exactly match those you gave during registration. Then you change password and set one of your own, I suggest set someting you can remember easily or something that is your routine password on your email, the one you use regularly, thats always better because then chances of forgetting it are minimal.
5. Then you fill up an applicatino form for the step of USMLE you want to apply for using IWA (Interactive Web Application ) which asks for the all details about yourself and your medical education. Please fill your name EXACTLY as on passport/degree, this has caused problems with people esp. from North India, they write only first name and last name. Here in Gujarat the pattern is surname, first name, father's name. Thankfully in my case it was uniform through out, right from Lower KG to final MBBS and passport. But some of my friends from North India/CBSE had to get affidavits done to prove that its the same person on passport/class 12 marksheet and MBBS degree.
6. Please write details about your clinical clerkships in item 20 of the IWA form (i.e. all clinical terms/postings you have done from 2nd MBBS i.e. 3rd professional/semester, to the final MBBS i.e. 9th professional/semester). I had got a medical school transcript, made from medical college admin office which had all the details. So I copied them. Please ask your medical college/seniors about your college's transcript as you will require this transcript at a later date too, better get it made early. In my medical college they charged 250 rupees for one original copy which was pretty reasonable considering many medical colleges charge upto Rs. 2000 for a single copy!
7. If you pay by credit card, which most USMLE applicants from India do, only enter the 16 digit number on the card your using. There is no need for the 3 digit CV no./security no. from the back of the credit card (unlike in GRE /TOEFL online applications). Also do enter the name of card holder EXACTLY as it appears on the card, else they might reject it. Thats what happened with me a couple of times then the bank people told me to enter the name exactly as it was on the card i.e. including Mr/Ms/Dr/Mrs, any fullstops/spaces, just like it is on the card even if your name is misspelt on the card. Enter the expiry date exactly as well. It is beter to have your credit card with you while you are filing out the card details :-)
8. Last step (finally! whew!!); you will by then be tired by all this. In the end print a form 183 which appears immediately as you make the payment successfully. Be sure that the whole form comes on a single page, set the margins (go to file menu on upper left of your screen and see pagesetup and alter the margin widths accordingly. Usually it is set at 0.75 inch each for left and right margins. Your paper may not have the whole right margin, so just reset it to 0.25 or 0.20 and before you give the print command, do check the print preview. It is an option in file menu in your browser/program/MS Word just couple of options below page setings. Here you can see what the printout will look like eventually. Please remember, you need to PRINT IT ENTIRELY ON A SINGLE SHEET OF PAPER, ALL MARGINS INCLUSIVE! Then you stick a photo of yours (latest, not older than 6 months) in the space provided. The space is much larger for a usual passport sized photo of India but it is acceptable. They haven't specified any size on website or in the instructions, so just go with your passport size photograph. In case you don't want to take any chances, you might use a 2 inch by 2 inch photograph, the kind used in visa forms but slightly bigger. If you have one readily available, then it is fine but there is no need to spend on it separately. Then you need to get it sealed by your dean/medical college office. Seal must slightly be on the photo but take care that it doesn't cover your entire photo! It must be on the lower margin of your photograph.
Now you are all set, fill that 183 form, get your deans signature and post it to them on the address mentioned on ECFMG website which is:
3624, Market street, 4th floor
Please check latest address on www.ecfmg.org
I hope this comes in handy to you all when you apply for USMLE exam. All the best to all of you. I hope you all don't face any problems like I did and that your application process goes off smoothly.
Note: docjyo wrote this brilliant step by step guide for the benefit of RxPG community after being helped by RxPG website. We request other visitors to maintain this chain of helping each other by sharing similar experiences here. This post was originally made at this link: http://www.rxpgonline.com/postx37028-0-20.html
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