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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Otolaryngology (Importance of USMLE)



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


In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 248. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 240.


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 and 2CK: Important Points for the Otolaryngology Residency Applicant



1 In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among U.S. seniors who matched to otolaryngology was 248. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 240.


2 In a survey of 30 otolaryngology residency programs, 97% cited the USMLE Step 1 score as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. 


3 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 Otolaryngology board certification examination.


4 In one study, the USMLE Step 1 score was a significant predictor of success during otolaryngology residency.


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. Eighty percent of programs have established a target score while 20% look for evidence of a passing score.  "We do not have a minimum USMLE score requirement," writes the Department of Otolaryngology at NYU.  "However, our program is highly competitive and the average score of our applicants is usually 235 and greater."  


6 Applicants with lower USMLE Step 1 scores may have difficulty matching with otolaryngology residency programs. Twenty-two percent of U.S. seniors with scores < 240 failed to match in 2016.


7 The USMLE Step 2 CK score is also a factor used by some otolaryngology residency programs in deciding whom to invite for interviews. Fifty-nine percent of programs use the Step 2 CK score in their decision-making process.


8 Should you take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam before applying to otolaryngology? Some programs want to see Step 2 scores when you apply. Applicants are urged to visit program websites as early as possible so that informed decisions can be made with respect to the timing of the USMLE Step 2 CK exam. 


9 Some programs want to see Step 2 scores before rank-order lists are due for submission in February. Review of program websites will allow for proper planning.


10 When otolaryngology residency program directors were asked, “Would your program consider applicants who fail their [Step 1] exam on the 1st attempt,” 70% of programs indicated that they never do and 27% reported that they seldom do.