Askdoc's USMLE Newsletter

What Score to Aim For the USMLE

Hey There, Mike here.

First I would like to thank you for downloading my book "How to Create a Study Plan for the USMLE." You are well on your way to properly organizing your prep for USMLE success. Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving a series of newsletter that will teach you and provide you with the needed information to create a very effective study plan that will help you achieve USMLE success.

If you have not yet done so, please read the first part of the book "Determine Your Objective". The first thing you need to do before you can plan your prep is to decide what score you want or need.

In Summary: Scores to Aim For ...

If you are ...


an AMG who just wants to Match


an AMG who wants a good Residency


an IMG who wants to Match


an IMG who wants to get a good Residency


an Old IMG who wants to Match


The above are minimum scores you need for an 80-90% chance of Matching. Even acing the exam (>240) does not guarantee 100% chance of Matching. About  ~5 people a year who aced the exam (out of 4000)  don't get matched.

Getting scores lower than the minimum does not means 0% chance of Matching. Only less than 5% of people with scores below 198 get matched each year. For IMGs, its less than 1%.  AMGs who failed to match get help from their schools during post-match scramble. IMGs, don't.

Of course, there are ways to get matched outside the NRMP and sometimes, depending on the situation, you just need to pass the exam, even if you are an IMG. (For more information about this, you may want to enroll into my online seminar workshop here.)

If you are an incoming third year American Medical Student, you may just want to pass this exam, get it over with and continue with your medical education. However, if you are an IMG, just passing this exam is the surest way to end your US medical career.

I believe the only purpose anyone would take the USMLE is to get into a US medical residency program. Therefore, any score that will result in NOT being accepted into a US medical residency is wasted time and effort.

High Scores = More Interviews = > Chance of Matching​

In 2006, the number of interviews that resulted in an 80% chance of getting into a residency program is 5. The score needed for a fresh grad IMG to get 5 interviews is 2 points above the mean which is 218 (216+2). Even as late as 2011, the last time I monitored the Match, the 5 interview rule was still very valid.

The mean for 2015 is now a 229 however. Therefore, the score needed by a fresh grad IMG to get the 5 interviews needed to have a really good chance at a US medical residency has also gone up. In fact,the mean is so high that even US medical students with just passing scores are now finding it harder to match.

Does it mean that if an IMG score lower than 229, he can't get into a US medical residency? Of course not. People with lower scores have matched. In fact some people needed just one interview to get matched and there are are people with over a dozen interview who failed to match.

Having said that, most people who have only one interview do not match. Most people with greater than 5 interviews match. So by scoring above the mean, you have a very good chance of matching. And by scoring below the mean, it is just that much harder to get matched.

It's even harder for old IMGs to match. Whereas two out of three US hospitals have positions for IMGs, only about one in four US hospitals will even consider old IMGs. And remember all these hospitals accepts both IMGs and AMGs and in fact have a preference for them. While three out of 4 residency programs won't even consider an old IMG no matter how high your scores.

I remember receiving an email. from a program that went something like this. "Your scores are really very high. However, we are sorry but you don't meet our minimum requirement." As my brother sarcastically retorted. "What's their requirement? Low scores?"

Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer to your goal.

Elbert Hubbard
Writer, Artist, Philospher

It is important for you to know what score you need to get into a residency program and include that into your plan. What you need to do to pass the exam is very different from what you need to do to score high. Acing the exam would require a completely different strategy altogether.

If you follow the study plans of most American medical students, its main purpose is to pass the USMLE. If you are an IMG, follow them at your own risk. As an IMG, you need a different plan altogether. More so if you are an old IMG. We will talk more about this in the future.

Until Next Time,


P.S. Next issue, we will discuss a bit about 'How I Aced the USMLE Step 1 and 2CK".

Better Prep.

Easier Exam.

Higher Scores.

How to Master the USMLE Step 1 Book

Score HIgher. Read the Book.

An in-depth written guide on how to prep better and score higher for the USMLE Step 1. Read the book. Better Prep. Easier Exam. Higher Scores,

Score Higher. Listen to the Lecture

A 48-module lecture seminar on how to prep better and score higher for the USMLE Step 1. Listen to the Lecture. Better Prep. Easier Exam. Higher Scores.