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Importance of the USMLE

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USMLE Step 1 and 2 CK:  5 Important Points for the General Surgery Residency Applicant

1. In 2018, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among U.S. seniors who matched to general surgery was 236. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 219. 



2. In 2018, 36% of U.S. seniors with a USMLE Step 1 score of less than 220, failed to match into general surgery. If your Step 1 score will be of concern to programs, then a well-thought-out strategy for match success is crucial. Of chief importance is the assistance of a mentor or advisor to help you overcome the challenges of a low score. 



3. In a survey of 99 general surgery residency programs, 94% cited the USMLE as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. “As some residency programs are becoming more competitive because of either the reduction in the number of positions or the increase in the number of applicants, the USMLE scores are being used in various ways in making decisions on whom to select for interviews,” writes the University of Washington School of Medicine. 

4. In a survey of 99 programs, 81% cited the USMLE Step 2 CK as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. 

5. When general surgery residency program directors were asked, “Would your program consider applicants who fail their [Step 1] exam on the 1st attempt,” 46% of programs indicated that they never do and 53% reported that they seldom do. Only 1% of programs often consider applicants who have failed. As you can see, the road to match success is difficult for those who have failed the Step 1 exam. At MD2B and The Successful Match, we have helped applicants overcome such obstacles, and you are welcome to contact us for more information.

In 2018, 36% of U.S. medical school seniors with USMLE Step 1 scores of less than 220 failed to match. Applicants with lower USMLE scores need to strengthen their credentials in as many areas as possible, and work closely with an advisor to develop a strategy for match success.

Some applicants are concerned about their chances of matching in the specialty or securing a position in highly competitive residency programs.


If you have such concerns, consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai.


Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation and school.


This plan will significantly improve your chances of a successful outcome.

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