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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Pathology: Importance of USMLE



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


In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 233. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 210.


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 Pathology Residency Applicant



1 In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among U.S. seniors who matched to pathology was 233. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 210.



2 In a survey of 58 pathology residency programs, 98% 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 Pathology (ABP) board certification examination. In one study, USMLE scores were strong measures of pass/fail rates on the ABP exam. 



4 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. Seventy-two percent of programs have established a target score while 26% look for evidence of a passing score. "All applicants should have USMLE Step I and Step II (CK) scores of >= 220 or COMLEX scores of 90 and above," writes the Department of Pathology at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center.



5 Applicants with low USMLE Step 1 scores may have difficulty matching with pathology residency programs. Fourteen percent of U.S. seniors with scores < 210 failed to match in 2016.



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



7 Should you take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam before applying to pathology? 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. 



8 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. 



9 When pathology residency program directors were asked, “Would your program consider applicants who fail their [Step 1] exam on the 1st attempt,” 31% of programs indicated that they never do and 55% reported that they seldom do. Fourteen percent of programs indicated that they often do.