What are the rules regarding what I can and cannot bring into the secure areas of the testing center?

It is important that you read and understand the rules regarding personal possessions. Unauthorized possession of personal items while in the secure areas of the testing centers may lead to a finding of irregular behavior and permanent annotation of your USMLE transcript.

For all Steps, if you bring personal items to the test center, you must store them in a small designated locker outside the secure testing area or in the designated storage area for Step 2 CS; electronic devices must be turned off. All personal items are subject to inspection and are prohibited in the secure areas of the testing center.

For Step 2 CS, the entire testing session from orientation until the evaluation is completed, including all breaks, is considered a closed and secure testing session, and the entire test center, including the orientation room and the restrooms, is a secure testing area. Therefore, the rules regarding unauthorized possession during Step 2 CS apply to the orientation room and to all breaks.

If you have a medical need for an item during your USMLE administration, see the list of approved personal items.

Personal Item Exceptions (PIEs)

The personal items listed below are permitted in the secure testing area subject to inspection by test center staff. If you have a medical need for one or more of these items during your USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS, or Step 3 examination, you do NOT need to make a request or submit documentation to NBME for approval. Please show the item to test center staff when you check in for your examination.

Medicine and Medical Devices

  • Arm/shoulder sling
  • Bandages
  • Braces – neck, back, wrist, leg, or ankle
  • Casts/cervical collar
  • Cough drops (must be unwrapped and not in a bottle/container)
  • Earplugs (foam with no strings) Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 only
  • Epi-Pen
  • Eye drops
  • Eye patches
  • Eyeglasses (without the case)
  • Glucose monitor
  • Glucose tablets
  • Handheld magnifying glass (non-electric, no case)
  • Ice packs/heating pads
  • Inhaler
  • Medical alert bracelet
  • Nitroglycerin tablets
  • Pillow/lumbar support
  • Pills (must be unwrapped and not in a bottle/container)
  • Stool for elevating a limb
  • Surgical face mask Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 only
  • Walking boot casts

Medical Device Attached to a Person’s Body

  • Catheter
  • Colostomy bag
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Insulin pump
  • Oxygen tank
  • Spinal cord stimulator
  • TENS units
  • Urine drainage bag

Communication Aids

  • Hearing aid/cochlear implant without Bluetooth/wireless capability
  • Vocal cord magnifiers

Mobility Devices

  • Cane
  • Crutches
  • Walker
  • Wheelchair


Source: USMLE

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