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About Sarah Maritan, Joan Miguel Romero and Owen Chen

Sarah Maritan is a first-year student in McGill University’s MD-PhD program. She received her bachelor of science degree in life sciences and her master of science degree in pathology and molecular medicine, both from Queen’s University. Her research focuses on the cellular signaling mechanisms regulating cancer progression, particularly the pathways underlying tumor cell movement and metastatic growth.

Joan Miguel Romero is a first-year MD-PhD student at McGill University. He completed his honors bachelor of science degree in pathobiology and immunology and his master of science degree in laboratory medicine and pathobiology from the University of Toronto. His research is aimed at understanding the antitumor immune mechanisms involved in pancreatic cancer.

Owen Chen is a first-year MD-PhD student at McGill University. Prior to medical school, he completed both his bachelor of science and master of science in biochemistry at McGill. He is currently pursuing his research at McGill’s Rosalind & Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, where he studies cell cycle dysregulation in cancer.


  • The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is a three-part exam administered by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME); it is necessary for medical licensing in the United States.

  • The Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) is a two-part exam administered by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), and it is part of the requirements to obtain a license to practice medicine in Canada.

  • Various study resources exist for both tests, each with their own benefits.

  • Deciding which to use is a matter of personal preference.

  • Reasons for completing the USMLE and MCCQE exams differ depending on your career goals, and careful planning should determine which to take.


In this chapter, we will discuss the USMLE and the MCCQE, exams necessary for becoming licensed to practice medicine in the United States and Canada, respectively. We will provide a basic rundown of what these exams are and why you would be interested in taking them. We then conclude with some study material that you may find useful.

United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)

What is the USMLE?

The USMLE is a standardized examination that is required for medical licensing in the United States, administered jointly by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). The USMLE consists of three steps: Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3. These are completed over multiple years during the course of your medical training. Specific timeline requirements to complete all three steps of the USMLE, particularly with respect to students in combined MD-PhD programs, can be consulted from the USMLE official website.

Step 1 is a multiple-choice computerized test that assesses ...

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