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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Ophthalmology (Importance of USMLE)



The USMLE is an important factor in the ophthalmology residency selection process.


In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 244. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 229.


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.


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 increase your chances of a successful match outcome.

USMLE Step 1: Important Points for the Ophthalmology Residency Applicant



1 In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched applicants who matched to obstetrics & gynecology was 244. Among unmatched applicants, the mean score was 229. 



2 In one study, the USMLE was a powerful predictor of matching into ophthalmology. "Each 10-point increase in USMLE score conferred an almost 60% increase in the probability of matching successfully," wrote Dr. Ayman Naseri, Program Director of the ophthalmology residency program at UCSF and lead author.



3 “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. “The following programs consistently use the scores in the screening process: Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Radiology, Surgery, and Urology.”



4 Why are scores so important to ophthalmology residency programs? Among the reasons for the importance of the USMLE in the selection process is the desire to select residents who will pass the American Board of Ophthalmology written examination. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between USMLE and board examination performance.



5 Although programs differ in how USMLE Step 1 scores are used in the residency selection process, the score is an important factor used to make interview decisions. Although some programs will only consider applicants who exceed a certain threshold or target score, others will have no such policy.  "No, we do not screen based on a minimum score," writes the Department of Ophthalmology at Drexel University.  "However, most of the applicants interviewed have two-digit scores above 90."



6 Should you take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam before applying to ophthalmology? Although most programs do not require applicants to take the Step 2 CK exam, we urge you to research programs of interest well in advance so you can make informed decisions regarding the timing of your Step 2 CK exam.