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Step 1, Step 2 Average Scores by Specialty in 2022 (US Seniors, IMGs)

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by Alec Palmerton, MD in IMG, Residency
USMLE Average Scores by Specialty

Do you have what it takes to get into your dream residency? How much does your Step 1 score matter? Or Step 2 CK score? How much research do you need?

In this article, we will address the numbers you need to know. Specifically, we’ll look at the average Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores for matched and unmatched applicants by specialty. Also, we’ll look at the average research successful applicants had. Finally, we’ll compare numbers for both US Seniors and IMGs (International Medical Graduates)

Note: this has been updated in September 2022 to reflect the 2022 Charting Outcomes in the Match data.

Table of Contents

Why Are Step 1 and Step 2 CK Scores Important?

Residency program directors are busy. As such, they rely heavily on Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores to sort through applicants. In fact, in a 2021 survey of program directors, Step 1 was the highest-cited factor for giving interviews. (NOTE: in future years, given that Step 1 is now pass-fail, Step 2 scores will likely factor much more heavily for interviews). For competitive specialties, research is a common factor that helps students stand out.

 % Respondents EndorsingMean Importance Rating
USMLE Step 1 Score86.2%3.7
MSPE85.9%4
Letters of Recommendation in Specialty85.1%4.2
Personal Statement (Overall)83.8%3.9
Diversity Characteristics80.9%4.1
Perceived Commitment to Specialty79.5%4.3
USMLE Step 2 CK Score78.8%3.8
Having Overcome Significant Obstacles75.5%4.1
Grades in Required Clerkships74.6%3.9
Any Failed USMLE Attempt74.1%4.4
Professionalism and Ethics73.9%4.5
Perceived Interest in Program72.3%4.2
Leadership Qualities70.1%4.2
Class Ranking/Quartile68.1%3.8
Grades in Clerkship in Preferred Specialty65.2%4.1
Volunteer/Extracurricular Experience64.8%3.9
Personal Prior Knowledge of Applicant63.6%4.1
Other Life Experience62.8%3.9
Any Failed COMLEX-USA Attempt59.4%4.4
Consistency of Grades58.5%3.9
COMLEX-USA Level 1 score55.9%3.7
Awards/Honors in Clinical Clerkships55.0%3.4
COMLEX-USA Level 2 CE Score53.0%3.8
AOA Membership50.6%3.5
GHHS Membership50.5%3.6
Passing USMLE Step 2 CS46.4%3.6
Awards/Honors, Clerkship in Preferred Specialty46.2%3.7
Continuous Medical Education w/o Gaps46.2%3.8
Audition Elective/Rotation in PD's Dept44.8%4.2
Medical School Accreditation Status44.2%4.2
Involvement and Interest in Research41.1%3.6
Medical School Reputation38.1%3.7
Ability to Work Legally w/o Visa35.5%4.2
Visa Status33.4%3.9
Passing COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE31.8%3.7
Fluency in Language of Pt Population31.0%3.6
NRMP Flag for Match Violation27.8%4.7
Interest in Academic Career24.2%3.8
Awards/Honors in Basic Sciences22.9%3.2
Sigma Sigma Phi Membership21.0%3.4
Away Rotation in Specialty Elsewhere18.9%3.8
USMLE Step 3 Score12.6%3.2
COMLEX-USA Level 3 Score8.9%3
How Medical School Handled Virtual Rotations6.6%3
USMLE Average Scores by Specialty

Program Directors rely on what they can measure. Who is most likely to be screened out?

US Seniors: Average Step 1, Step 2 CK Scores by Specialty

Step 1 and Step 2 CK are some of the most important factors for getting an interview. Below are the average Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores by specialty from the NRMP 2022 Match.

Want to know which specialties have the highest and lowest USMLE scores? Click on the column headers to sort by column.

 Step 1, US Senior (Matched)Step 1, US Senior (Unmatched)Step 2, US Senior (Matched)Step 2, US Senior (Unmatched)
Anesthesiology237221248231
Child Neurology234214247241
Dermatology248244257251
Diagnostic Radiology245233253241
Emergency Medicine234219247232
Family Medicine225211241228
General Surgery237225250238
Internal Medicine237218249230
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236217250234
Interventional Radiology245238253251
Neurological Surgery248238252246
Neurology233217246229
Obstetrics and Gynecology234225249240
Orthopaedic Surgery248241256249
Otolaryngology250243257250
Pathology233226245232
Pediatrics230209245230
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation230220242233
Plastic Surgery251240257247
Psychiatry228219242233
Radiation Oncology240209249232
Vascular Surgery241238250245

US Seniors: Average Abstracts, Presentations, and Publications by Specialty

Research is important for competitive specialties, or particularly competitive residency programs. Here are the average numbers of abstracts, presentations, and publications by specialty.

 Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, US Senior (Matched)Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, US Senior (Unmatched)
Anesthesiology6.64.4
Child Neurology7.42
Dermatology20.915.7
Diagnostic Radiology87.2
Emergency Medicine5.12.7
Family Medicine4.12.6
General Surgery8.65.3
Internal Medicine6.93.5
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics6.55.5
Interventional Radiology12.27.2
Neurological Surgery25.511.7
Neurology7.87.6
Obstetrics and Gynecology6.85
Orthopaedic Surgery16.512.1
Otolaryngology17.211
Pathology8.51.7
Pediatrics5.65.9
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation6.23.9
Plastic Surgery28.413.8
Psychiatry6.24.2
Radiation Oncology13.3
Vascular Surgery12.411.3

IMGs: Average Step 1 Scores by Specialty

IMGs face an uphill battle to enter US residencies. Here are the average Step 1 scores by specialty for US and Non-US IMGs.

To read The IMG’s Guide to Obtaining Residency in the United States, click here.

 Step 1, US IMG (Matched)Step 1, US IMG (Unmatched)Step 1, Non-US IMG (Matched)Step 1, Non-US IMG (Unmatched)
Anesthesiology233226234229
Child Neurology227215228218
DermatologyN/AN/A251239
Diagnostic Radiology241231247239
Emergency Medicine227213231222
Family Medicine211207219213
General Surgery236225238237
Internal Medicine225212238229
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics220215230228
Interventional Radiology261240250242
Neurological SurgeryN/A217246239
Neurology225211239227
Obstetrics and Gynecology226217236230
Orthopaedic Surgery245233238238
OtolaryngologyN/AN/AN/AN/A
Pathology219214232225
Pediatrics220209229219
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation220218226226
Plastic Surgery227231224218
Psychiatry216211229217
Radiation OncologyN/AN/A228218
Vascular SurgeryN/AN/A241242

IMGs: Average Step 2 CK Scores by Specialty

Step 2 CK doesn’t rank as highly as Step 1 for residency program directors. However, for IMGs, Step 2 CK is another opportunity to stand out. Here are the average Step 2 CK scores by specialty for US and Non-US IMGs.

 Step 2, US IMG (Matched)Step 2, US IMG (Unmatched)Step 2, Non-US IMG (Matched)Step 2, Non-US IMG (Unmatched)
Anesthesiology240236243239
Child Neurology234225239226
DermatologyN/SN/A252241
Diagnostic Radiology247239250245
Emergency Medicine238225240233
Family Medicine225219231224
General Surgery246234247244
Internal Medicine235222245236
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics229231243239
Interventional Radiology270244246243
Neurological SurgeryN/A228247240
Neurology235225245233
Obstetrics and Gynecology243232243236
Orthopaedic Surgery255241249242
OtolaryngologyN/AN/AN/AN/A
Pathology228221238230
Pediatrics233221240230
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation227229237228
Plastic Surgery232244240234
Psychiatry228222236227
Radiation OncologyN/AN/A240224
Vascular Surgery251247

IMGs: Average Abstracts, Presentations, and Publications by Specialty

Research is particularly important for IMGs. As we’ll discuss below, research is the area where successful IMGs seem to need much more than US Seniors.

Here are the average abstracts, presentations, and publications by specialty.

 Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, US IMG (Matched)Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, US IMG (Unmatched)Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, Non-US IMG (Matched)Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, Non-US IMG (Unmatched)
Anesthesiology5.13.99.17.6
Child Neurology5.75.86.216
DermatologyN/AN/A34.534.4
Diagnostic Radiology7516.99
Emergency Medicine2.22.48.94.6
Family Medicine2.33.53.83.4
General Surgery5.66.618.512.8
Internal Medicine2.83.95.84.8
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics4.3455.1
Interventional Radiology513.5394.3
Neurological Surgery11.873.852.1
Neurology5.710.410.68.2
Obstetrics and Gynecology3.43.410.87.2
Orthopaedic Surgery29.521.897.625.1
OtolaryngologyN/AN/AN/AN/A
Pathology5.6710.58.9
Pediatrics2.92.15.74.7
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation3.73.15.514.8
Plastic Surgery19.314.254.35
Psychiatry3.94.69.15.4
Radiation OncologyN/AN/A1719
Vascular SurgeryN/AN/A26.228.7

IMGs vs. US Seniors: Average Step 1, Step 2 CK Scores

See anything surprising when comparing the USMLE scores of US Seniors and IMGs? They’re not all that different! When I compiled the data, there didn’t seem to be huge discrimination against IMGs based on USMLE scores. (There are other ways in which IMGs may have discrimination, which I’ve detailed here).

Here are the average Step 1 scores for matched applicants for IMGs vs. US Seniors.

 Step 1, US Senior (Matched)Step 1, US IMG (Matched)Step 1, Non-US IMG (Matched)
Anesthesiology237233234
Child Neurology234227228
Dermatology248N/A251
Diagnostic Radiology245241247
Emergency Medicine234227231
Family Medicine225211219
General Surgery237236238
Internal Medicine237225238
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236220230
Interventional Radiology245261250
Neurological Surgery248N/A246
Neurology233225239
Obstetrics and Gynecology234226236
Orthopaedic Surgery248245238
Otolaryngology250N/AN/A
Pathology233219232
Pediatrics230220229
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation230220226
Plastic Surgery251227224
Psychiatry228216229
Radiation Oncology240N/A228
Vascular Surgery241N/A241

Here are the average Step 2 CK scores for matched applicants for IMGs vs. US Seniors.

 Step 2, US Senior (Matched)Step 2, US IMG (Matched)Step 2, Non-US IMG (Matched)
Anesthesiology248240243
Child Neurology247234239
Dermatology257N/A252
Diagnostic Radiology253247250
Emergency Medicine247238240
Family Medicine241225231
General Surgery250246247
Internal Medicine249235245
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics250229243
Interventional Radiology253270246
Neurological Surgery252N/A247
Neurology246235245
Obstetrics and Gynecology249243243
Orthopaedic Surgery256255249
Otolaryngology257N/AN/A
Pathology245228238
Pediatrics245233240
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation242227237
Plastic Surgery257232240
Psychiatry242228236
Radiation Oncology249N/A240
Vascular Surgery250N/A251

IMGs vs. US Seniors: Average Abstracts, Presentations, and Publications by Specialty

The USMLE scores aren’t as different between US Seniors and IMGs. However, there is a much larger difference in abstracts, presentations, and publications.

Here are the average abstracts, presentations, and publications for US Seniors and IMGs.

 Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, US Senior (Matched)Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, US IMG (Matched)Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications, Non-US IMG (Matched)
Anesthesiology6.65.19.1
Child Neurology7.45.76.2
Dermatology20.9N/A34.5
Diagnostic Radiology8716.9
Emergency Medicine5.12.28.9
Family Medicine4.12.33.8
General Surgery8.65.618.5
Internal Medicine6.92.85.8
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics6.54.35
Interventional Radiology12.2539
Neurological Surgery25.5N/A73.8
Neurology7.85.710.6
Obstetrics and Gynecology6.83.410.8
Orthopaedic Surgery16.529.597.6
Otolaryngology17.2N/AN/A
Pathology8.55.610.5
Pediatrics5.62.95.7
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation6.23.75.5
Plastic Surgery28.419.354.3
Psychiatry6.23.99.1
Radiation Oncology13.3N/A17
Vascular Surgery12.4N/A26.2

Concluding Thoughts

There’s no question that USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK play huge roles in residency applications. In addition, research is another way applicants can stand out, particularly for competitive specialties or IMGs. Knowing the numbers is powerful and can help guide important decisions, like whether you should delay an exam or what scores you should aim for.

Sources: National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match: International Medical Graduates, 2022. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2022.

National Resident Matching Program, Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Allopathic Seniors, 2022. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC 2022.

National Resident Matching Program, Data Release and Research Committee: Results of the 2021 NRMP Program Director Survey. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, DC. 2021.

Photo by patricia serna

Want FREE Cardiology Flashcards?

Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.

Subscribe
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