The Importance of USMLE Step 1 and Step 2-CK Scores for US Residency Programs

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USMLE scores are very important for International Medical Graduates (IMG) attempting to match into residency programs in the United States. They are part of the equivalency process of an international medical education, showing that the medical knowledge of the IMG meet the standards in the United States. Most of the time, USMLE Step 1 scores are the only universal scores that interviewers can compare for residency applicants although; the test was not designed for this purpose of comparison (Prober, Kolars, First, & Melnick, 2016). There are many other factors besides these test scores that would show the medical graduates’ clinical abilities (Prober, Kolars, First, & Melnick, 2016). Therefore, if medical graduates have high USMLE scores for the Step 1 and Step 2-CK exams, these scores can give the medical graduates a greater chance to be selected for their target residency programs.

USMLE step 1 scores can determine whether or not IMGs are more likely to Match to their target medical specialty. Typically, International Medical Graduates (IMGs) must score several points higher on Step 1 exam as compared to medical graduates from the United States (Prober, Kolars, First, & Melnick, 2016). Once test-takers achieve passing scores on a Step exam, they cannot re-take the exam, so the test-takers must be sure that they give their best during all test-taking attempts.

Step 1 and Step 2-CK of the USMLE exams are important for several reasons. These exams show the different abilities of test-takers. Step 1 determines whether test-takers have basic foundational knowledge of scientific concepts (Michalec, Veloski, Hojat, & Tykocinski, 2015). Step 2-CK focuses more on whether the test-takers can apply their medical knowledge within the clinical field (Michalec, Veloski, Hojat, & Tykocinski, 2015). Therefore, high scores in both exams will show that medical graduates have high level of knowledges of basic science and ability to apply this knowledge.

While USMLE exam scores are very important within the United States residency programs, applicants must not forget to include other proof of abilities in their application. Although there have been pushes for changes within United States residency programs, applicants must be sure that they have high USMLE scores as well as other proof of abilities such as Letters of Recommendation (LORs), clinical volunteer experience, and so forth.

In general, IMGs (International Medical Graduates) must take the USMLE steps to prove that they possess the scientific and medical knowledge required by United States residency programs. They must check the requirements for residency programs before taking these exams to make sure they are well prepared for getting high scores. They must recognize the importance of Step 1 and Step 2-CK USMLE scores in screening candidates, in the United States, for them to Match into residency programs in any hospital. These factors will determine the type of journey a medical student will embark on.



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