This timeline will be most useful for CCLCM students, but some of it might be helpful for students from other schools too.
Late October to Early November 2007:
I registered for Step 1 at the NBME website. This is when the UP students register since they take the test in early March, so we have to register at this time too even though we'll be taking it at the end of June. Registrants pick a three month window, which for CCLCM students should be June-July-August. We are then able to register for any day within that three month period, assuming that there is an open slot at that test site. We paid $480 to register for the 2008 test, but they'll probably charge more in future years, so check on the NBME site.
Late November to Early December 2007:
Time to pick a test site and date on the Prometric website after you get permission to register from the NBME. Don't procrastinate on doing this, because the testing sites will fill up and you might not get the date and location that you want. There aren't any Prometric sites closer than a 45-minute drive away from CCLCM. Some of my classmates took the test in Strongsville or Mentor, which are the closest locations. But I am going to study here for five weeks and then go home to take the test. My date is July 1, which is the last Tuesday of our six weeks off. I think most people are taking it a week or two earlier than I am, but I'm waiting longer so that I can have the Memorial Day weekend off.
I took the NBME Comprehensive Basic Science Exam (CBSE) in mid-December. This exam lasts four hours and covers all of the basic medical sciences. It can only be taken through the school, and it is optional for CCLCM students. Some of my classmates took it last month with the Case students, but I couldn't take it that day. So I asked Wilma (the school administrator) about a makeup, and she was generous enough to arrange a second date just for CCLCM students.
Even though most CCLCM students will fail since we are so early in our second year, it's still worth taking the test. Med students at many other schools are required to take the CBSE as part of their normal curriculum in order to assess their preparation level in the basic medical sciences. The test is by the same people who write the real USMLE, and it gives you a valuable preview of what the real test is like, as well as feedback about your individual strengths and weaknesses. I would guess that about 3/4 of the people in my class took it. If you do sign up to take the test, don't back out later if you can help it. The school has to pay for each student who signs up to take it, including anyone who winds up not taking theirs.
I took my first NBME CBSSA (Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment) over spring break just to get an idea of where I was at that point. This was the first time that I passed the test.
I began studying part time for Step 1 for the last few weeks of school, then full time afterward. Many of my classmates started studying much earlier than this. I took all five of the other NBME practice exams. The school gave us vouchers so that we didn't have to pay for Tests 3 and 5.
Late June to Early July 2008:
Usual time for CCLCM c/o 2011 students to take USMLE Step 1.