Michael Dworkin, MD
USMLE goal scores for matching as a US-allopathic senior
Updated: Aug 10, 2018
What USMLE scores do US-allopathic seniors need to match? What specialties are most competitive? Read on to find out!
The latest data on what it takes to match as a US-allopathic seniors is summarized in the 220+ page NRMP Charting Outcomes in the 2018 Match for US Allopathic Seniors Document. Given the length of this document, the fact that it is not digested, and does not provide recommended goal scores for various specialties, I've gone through the whole document and digested it for you as follows.
US-allopathic senior: A senior enrolled in an allopathic medical school physically located in the USA.
Breakdown of applicants in the 2018 main residency match by the numbers.
Of all applicants in the 2018 main residency match, about half were US-allopathic seniors. See the full data breakdown here.
What are the largest specialties?
The largest specialties in decreasing order of total number of positions offered in the 2018 match are as follows: Internal medicine (7900), family medicine (3600), pediatrics (2800), emergency medicine (2200, anesthesiology (1800), psychiatry (1500), OGBYN (1330), general surgery (1320), diagnostic radiology (1100), neurology (860), orthopedic surgery (740), pathology (600), dermatology (470), physical medicine and rehabilitation (420), med-peds (380), otolaryngology (310), neurological surgery (215), radiation oncology (195), child neurology (168), interventional radiology (136), and vascular surgery (60).
What specialties have the highest match rates for US-allopathic seniors?
The specialties with the highest match rates (%) in decreasing order are child neurology (99), pediatrics (98.8), internal medicine (97.9), pathology (96.4), anesthesiology (96), family medicine (95.3), med-peds (93.5), radiation oncology (92.6), vascular surgery (90.6), diagnostic radiology (88.9), physical medicine and rehabilitation (87.9), OBGYN (87.9), neurological surgery (86.4), plastic surgery (85.7), general surgery (84), orthopedic surgery (82.4), dermatology (81.6), and interventional radiology (58.3).
What are the average USMLE scores for US-allopathic seniors who matched vs those who did not match overall?
The average USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores of matched vs unmatched US-allopathic seniors are as follows: 233 and 246 vs 224 and 236. Interestingly, the scores of matched non-US-IMGs are nearly identical to these, whereas the scores of unmatched non-US-IMGs are about 10 points lower than those of unmatched US-allopathic seniors.
What is the average number of contiguous ranks in matched vs unmatched US-allopathic seniors?
US-allopathic seniors who matched ranked on average 12.3 programs whereas those who did not match ranked only 5.3 programs on average. Indeed, it is crucial to rank each program you are willing to attend.
What are reasonable goal Step 1 scores for various specialties for US-allopathic seniors?
By "reasonable goal score", I mean the mean score of matched applicants. This represents a score you should try to score above in order to match.
250 - reasonable goal score for dermatology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, interventional radiology, and neurologic surgery.
245 - reasonable goal score for diagnostic radiology. 240 - reasonable goal score for vascular surgery, anesthesiology, and emergency medicine.
235 - reasonable goal score for internal medicine, med-peds, general surgery, pathology, and child neurology.
230 - reasonable goal score for OBGYN, neurology, pediatrics, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.
225 - reasonable goal score for family medicine and psychiatry.
What are reasonable goal Step 2 CK scores for various specialties for US-allopathic seniors?
By "reasonable goal score", I mean the mean score of matched applicants. This represents a score you should try to score above in order to match. 255 - reasonable goal score for dermatology, interventional radiology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, and radiation oncology.
250 - reasonable goal score for diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, med-peds, neurological surgery, and OBGYN.
245 - reasonable goal score for anesthesiology, child neurology, neurology, pathology, pediatrics, and vascular surgery.
240 - reasonable goal score for physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, and family medicine.
How to calculate your probability of matching into a specialty with a given USMLE Step 1 score?
See the charting outcomes document here and look at the second graph listed for each specialty to see a plot of probability of matching versus Step 1 score. For example, for dermatology ("DM"), see Graph DM-2 on page 41 of the document. This graph shows that US-allopathic seniors with USMLE scores above 260 have a 90 percent chance of matching into dermatology. The linearity of Graph-DM-2 between throughout shows us that a high Step 1 is absolutely crucial for a successful dermatology match.
How many programs should I rank?
Rank each program that you would be willing to attend, in the order you would prefer to attend them. The only reason not to rank a particular program is if you would rather not match than be forced to match into that program.
Take home advice.
The most important take homes are to have reasonable goals, maximize your USMLE scores, apply to many programs, and, rank all the programs you would be willing to attend. For which specific factors on your application are most important at getting a residency interview and determining your rank on the rank order list, check out this blog post. To maximize your USMLE scores, check out our blog posts on the best resources to use in preparation for the USMLE Step 1 and clinical shelf exams and USMLE Step 2 CK exams.
MedSchoolGurus has extensive experience tutoring US-allopatic seniors for the USMLE exam as well as providing residency application editing services and advice. Our tutors have scored as high as 275 on USMLE Step 1 and use evidence based techniques to help you maximize your score. If you need further guidance, check out our webpage at medschoolgurus.com. If you are interested in individualized 1:1 guidance, email us at email@example.com to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.