The Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in the Medical Sciences (FMGEMS). An analysis of pass rates of the July 1984 through July 1987 examinations

Med Care. 1991 Mar;29(3):229-42. doi: 10.1097/00005650-199103000-00005.


This report examines the experience of 48,509 (40,393 foreign nationals and 8,116 U.S. citizens) foreign medical students and graduates (FMGs) who took any part of the first seven Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in the Medical Sciences (FMGEMS) administered by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. The pass rate on all three sections (basic science, clinical science, and English) was 23.0%. Almost one-half (47.2%) of all FMGEMS examinees were between 25 and 29 years of age, 73.9% were men, 71.5% took FMGEMS after medical school graduation, and 79.7% claimed as their native tongue languages other than English. Correlates of pass rates included taking FMGEMS before medical school graduation (30.0% pass) and being a native English speaker (37.5% pass). The rates for foreign national FMGs (FNFMGs) and United States FMGs (USFMGs) were 22.5% and 25.2%, respectively. Native English-speaking FNFMGs achieved a 43.3% pass rate; native English-speaking USFMGs, 32.6%; non-native English-speaking FNFMGs, 19.9%; and non-native English-speaking USFMGs, 11.2%. Whereas FMGs were educated in 114 countries, 74.2% of USFMGs were educated in just eight countries, all located in the West Indies and Mexico. Logistical regression analysis showed that the strongest factors predicting full pass rates were being both younger than 30 years of age and a native English speaker. Conclusions are that approximately 3,200 FMGs per year pass FMGEMS and that FMGs with the highest probability of passing share characteristics of U.S. and Canadian medical graduates who pass the National Board medical examinations, which suggests that the latter examinations, when offered to FMGs, may have limited effect on overall pass rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Educational Measurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States