What are the Differences Between NEET PG and USMLE?

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET PG is the entrance exam for postgraduate medical colleges in India, while the United States Medical Licensing Exam or USMLE is the eligibility exam for medical colleges in the US. Before pursuing higher studies in medicine, you might find yourself asking “is USMLE easier than NEET PG”? Both are highly competitive exams and important in determining a candidate’s admission into a good medical program in the respective country.

Each exam has a different process and it’s necessary to understand their differences when you’re considering which country to pursue a medical career in. In this article, we will go over the differences between each exam and what to keep in mind while preparing for them.

USMLE Vs. NEET PG in Choice of Specialty

Students attempting the USMLE usually end up securing admission in internal medicine, paediatrics, family medicine or psychiatry. Some can even get into general surgery.

Whereas in India, students attempting NEET can go into any field, from radiology to dermatology to ENT, and more. Getting into your dream branch of medicine is dependent on your NEET rank, but in general, you have a better chance of being able to specialize in your preferred branch with NEET PG than with USMLE.

USMLE Vs. NEET PG Admission Requirements

To get admission into a good medical college in India, the applicant needs to have a good NEET PG score or rank. Whereas in the US, what’s considered during admissions is not only the USMLE score, but also the applicant’s CV, letters of recommendation, personal interviews and other criteria. If you’re applying to colleges in the US, you may also have to spend months building a rapport with doctors in electives and learning about their system while securing letters of recommendation. Some students even choose to pursue a Masters in Public Health (MPH) to further strengthen their CV for the residency match program. And of course, high step scores are essential.

With NEET PG, results are declared within a month or two after the exam, after which admission into a college is based on your rank. With USMLE, you have to first choose your preferred speciality before even appearing for the exam.

USMLE Vs. NEET PG Preparation

Preparing for USMLE requires years of dedication and firm planning right from your undergraduate degree. Attempting the USMLE is not something you should take lightly, or try to attempt at the last minute, as it is highly competitive and involves multiple steps. It’s not just about writing an exam; the steps to getting a good score in USMLE are much more complicated than NEET PG.

In comparison, NEET PG is easier to crack, but competition is still pretty steep, making it tough to get a good rank. You can apply for NEET PG even in your final year of MBBS, but it’s a good idea to start preparing for the NEET PG exam right from the first year of your undergraduate degree to reduce your struggles at the end of the course. However, for the USMLE, applying in your final year of an undergraduate degree is not recommended because it may not give you enough time to prepare as the exam has multiple steps to complete.


Syllabus: The NEET PG exam is a single test that evaluates a candidate’s proficiency in all 19 subjects. The USMLE exam consists of three steps, with step 1 testing a candidate’s knowledge in fundamental science subjects – anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, and behavioural sciences, and advanced clinical subjects – medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, surgery, paediatrics. Step 2 tests a candidate’s clinical knowledge and clinical abilities.

Test day: The NEET PG exam happens on a specific day every year, and if you miss the exam, you have to wait until the next year to make another attempt. With USMLE you can choose your test day, and reschedule if you are unable to take it on that day.

Bottom line is, if you are determined and passionate enough, with enough perseverance, you can achieve your dreams of becoming a doctor through NEET PG or USMLE.