Real Board Scores for Step 1

The other day in Pathology class we had the lecturer tell us that if you want to get into a competitive specialty then you have to get a 260 on the USMLE Step 1.  I know for a fact he was exaggerating, but others in our class think this is true.  

Maybe those people don’t realize how high a 260 is for a score on the Step 1.  Let me give you a base of comparison, according to the Medfriends Score Estimator, a 260 on the Step 1 is like getting a 42 on the MCAT.  Possible?  Sure.  Probable?  NO. 

Yes it’s true, the match is getting more an more competitive with each passing year.  As medical student enrollment (as thus graduates) as been steadily increasing, slots for residency have not.  Thus creating a situation in which the match has become more competitive than ever.  But what kind of scores does it take on the USMLE Step 1 to match into things anyway?

Well out of 14,958 US graduates who applied to match in 2009, 13,646 of them matched (91.2%) and 1,312 did not match (8.8%)*.  The average score on the Step 1 for matching US grads was 225 across all specialties.  Obviously the score was dependent on specialty.  Which I’ll list here.  The average score for non-matching US grads was an average of 216.

*But what if you don’t match?  You scramble. This is a time where unmatched applicants and programs go in an all out free-for-all of faxing, calling, and emailing to match students to program openings.  From what I understand, it’s a nightmare.  If you’re interested, you can find a lot more about the topic on SDN and other medical student blogs.  

Ok, so what does it take on the Step 1 to get considered in the specialty you want to go into? Well here’s a list of the AVERAGE MATCHING USMLE Step 1 scores for each of the specialties.  

  • Anesthesiology: 224
  • Dermatology: 242
  • Diagnostic Radiology: 238
  • Emergency Medicine: 222
  • Family Practice: 214
  • General Surgery: 224
  • Internal Medicine: 225
  • Internal Med/Pediatrics Combined: 225
  • Neurological Surgery: 239
  • Neurology: 225
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology: 219
  • Orthopedic Surgery: 238
  • Otolaryngology (ENT): 240
  • Pathology: 227
  • Pediatrics: 219
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R): 214
  • Plastic Surgery: 245
  • Psychiatry: 216
  • Radiation Oncology: 238
  • Transitional Year: 236
So with some mathematics applied = (13646/14958)*225 + (1312/14958)*216 = we can figure that the average score for all (matching and non-matching) US grads applying to the match in 2009 was around 224.  So, you can look above data and get a good idea how competitive the specialties are based on USMLE Step 1 score.  

I better get studying for that exam.  

[Similar Post – Check Out USMLE Step 1 – 2010 Percentile Score]