IFOM Exam (Meaning, Application, Benefits)

IFOM is the short form for “International Foundations of Medicine,” and is an exam conducted by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) for healthcare professionals. 

The NBME started conducting the IFOM Exam in 2010 to cover major medical awareness and international learning. 

IFOM Exam helps test medical professionals’ abilities and knowledge, enabling them to compete with the global standard and preparing students for the USMLE (United States Medical Learning Exam). 

When you take IFOM Exams, you can get an idea of the questions to expect in the USMLE. From their IFOM Exam experience and scores, students can also know what score to expect in their USMLE.

The IFOM Exam is taken in Prometric centers, and the test centers are available in 80 countries worldwide. 

However, the exam does not have a minimum passing score as the exam is organized for different purposes depending on what the different healthcare and educational institutes across the globe are using the exam for.


The IFOM exam has three parts which are:

1. Basic Science Exam (BSE):

The Basic Science Exam includes basic medical science curriculum questions with 160 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in clinical vignette style. 

The multiple-choice questions are to be attempted within 4 hours and 30 minutes and are a computer-based test. 

The subjects usually include

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

BSEs are available in both English and Spanish. IFOM BSE is conducted three times a year and costs about $300.

2. Clinical Science Exam (CSE):

The Clinical Science Exam is about theoretical medical knowledge and understanding of clinical science, with 160 multiple-choice questions in clinical vignette style. 

The test format is computer-based multiple-choice questions, which are to be attended to in 4 hours and 30 minutes. 

The syllabus includes

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

IFOM Clinical Science Exam can be taken in English, Spanish and Portuguese. If you like to take the Exam in another language other than the languages mentioned above, you can reach out to the IFOM coordinator for further procedure. 

However, IFOM CSE is held once a year and costs about $200.

3. Clinical Science Self-Assessment

This Exam is taken to ascertain your clinical science knowledge before sitting for the IFOM Clinical Science Exam. In the Clinical Science Self-Assessment Exam, applicants must answer 80 computer-based multiple-choice questions; the exam has almost the same content as the CSE.

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Fascinating things about IFOM Exam;

  • IFOM Exam costs less than the USMLE Exam.
  • It can be taken in different languages, including Portuguese and Spanish, to benefit those who are not good at English.
  • The IFOM Exam, when added to your resume, will make it more captivating and lucrative.
  • It makes you familiar with the USMLE Exam since they have similar formats.
  • It tests students’ knowledge at a global level and standard.
  • IFOM exam can be used as a criterion for internship exam training programs.
  • It is used for postgraduate medical training.
  • The exam helps you know your chances of passing the USMLE Exam.


The USMLE and IFOM exams are similar. The question format for USMLE step 1 and IFOM Basic Science, USMLE step 2, and IFOM Clinical Science is almost the same.

Therefore, sitting for the IFOM Exam helps give you an idea of how the USMLE looks and your chances of performing well. 

USMLE is compulsory for Residency Programs in the USA, and, therefore cannot be replaced by IFOM Exam. USMLE has a lot of questions that are US-based, like; population health, healthcare, and public health. 

IFOM Exam, on the other hand, can be said to be the pre-form of the USMLE, which consists of questions that are frequently used in the USMLE.

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How to Apply for IFOM Exam

  • You can apply for the IFOM Exam on the MYNBME portal.
  • Exam fees, eligibility verification, and seat time at the Prometric center are included in the IFOM Exam fees, which you are to pay.
  • After downloading the status form, you must send it to your medical college. 
  • The medical college will complete the form and forward it to The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • After verifying your eligibility, you will receive a testing permit email.
  • The last step is to select a test site, which is done on the Prometric website.

How to Prepare for IFOM Exam

amboss.com is the best online platform to prepare for IFOM BSE and CSE Exams. The below information was extracted from amboss.com/int/ifom

1. Studying for the Basic Science Exam (BSE)

The IFOM® BSE tests the examinee’s ability to understand and apply knowledge from the preclinical curriculum to the practice of medicine.

AMBOSS users get access to more than 2500 case-based multiple-choice questions on the entire basic sciences curriculum.

An editorial team expertly writes all the content of over 50 doctors strictly according to the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) content guidelines.

The AMBOSS library and question-bank cover all the tested subjects to help you prepare comprehensively for the IFOM Basic Science Examination.

2. Studying for the Clinical Science Exam (CSE)

The IFOM® CSE tests the examinee’s ability to apply and integrate clinical knowledge during real-life examination scenarios.

AMBOSS offers its users over 2,200 exam-like questions covering the clinical sciences, and the entire syllabus tested in the IFOM CSE. 

All questions are also integrated with a detailed, corresponding Article from the Knowledge Library, which covers all the aspects of the topic in detail.

All the contents are optimized to provide our users with a closely representative and complete preparation for any NBME®-administered exam.

Reasons for IFOM Exam

Let’s wrap it up with the major reasons for IFOM Exam. 

  • Residency Programs, Ministries of Health, Education Internships, and Medical Schools often conduct IFOM Exam to reveal the knowledge and skills of aspirants in some phases of training and learning.
  • One of the IFOM Exam’s major purposes is for regional and international certification.
  • IFOM Exam is the most appropriate Exam to select students for training, internships, residency programs, and exchange programs.
  • It helps to prepare interested students for the USMLE step 1/USMLE step 2 CK.
  • IFOM Exam is also helpful in evaluating curriculum and other assessments.


The IFOM exam prepares for a more technical medical exam like USMLE. It includes technical questions that test your medical knowledge and abilities. To do well in the exam, you must prepare well and follow up on the questions at amboss.

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ST Admin
ST Admin

Hello, I am ST Admin! For five years, I began actively assisting students in Europe, the United States, and Canada in their pursuit of college advice and scholarship prospects. I am the Administrator of www.schoolandtravel.com at present.

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