jjbodean

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Many of the programs have their step 1 cutoffs listed on the EMRA website. My question is should I apply to those programs when I know my Step score is below their threshold? Am I completely wasting my time or it worthwhile to send them in anyways? I am a big advocate of "you won't get in to an institution if you don't apply", but I wonder how rigid the screening guidelines are, knowing it will vary from institution to institution.
 
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racerwad

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Many of the programs have their step 1 cutoffs listed on the EMRA website. My question is should I apply to those programs when I know my Step score is below their threshold? Am I completely wasting my time or it worthwhile to send them in anyways? I am a big advocate of "you won't get in to an institution if you don't apply", but I wonder how rigid the screening guidelines are, knowing it will vary from institution to institution.
I think your own advice is accurate - you don't know until to you try. However, I think the most accurate information is going to come from the mouth of the proverbial horse, not SDN.
 
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Jlaw

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Many of the programs have their step 1 cutoffs listed on the EMRA website. My question is should I apply to those programs when I know my Step score is below their threshold? Am I completely wasting my time or it worthwhile to send them in anyways? I am a big advocate of "you won't get in to an institution if you don't apply", but I wonder how rigid the screening guidelines are, knowing it will vary from institution to institution.
I attended an applicant forum at my residency recently and one of the applicants asked about Step cutoffs, the chair of our program responded with numbers which were significantly higher than what I applied, and was accepted, with. I also got into med school with an MCAT below the stated cutoff for my school. Don't make all you apps a reach, but if you think a program is a good fit remember that many have wiggle room.
 
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tnedoots

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Between Freida, EMRA Match, and program specific websites there is a dearth of information about Step scores cutoffs and the info that is there can be conflicting.
The concern for me in having a low Step 1 score (like actually low, not "boo hoo I only got a 220") is to waste money on applying to schools that have cutoff scores. I am pretty sure I'll match somewhere based on the NRMP data. So, I'm not looking for a "what are my chances" kind of thread which there are plenty of.

What I think would help everyone in similar shoes as me is to know where not to bother applying based solely upon a Step score threshold. Obviously, there is no sense in me spending dollars on applying to programs like Stanford, Carolinas, etc. But what about other programs that aren't as obvious?

The programs themselves, for the most part, don't seem to be too open to actually stating a cutoff score. I'm still a year out from applying but have started trying to see what my options are in EM based upon my application strength up to this point. It would be great if there were some applicant generated data that are available for those of us on the left end of the bell curve to know where we can save some dollars by not sending an app to a program that will screen us out instantaneously solely based upon objective score cutoffs. I understand that there's always a chance based on other components of our app, but those I would call reach programs and I'd like to at least know which those are before I apply to them blindly. Obviously, for those of us on the bottom end, it's a numbers game. The more we apply to the greater the chance of matching, but senselessly spending money on applying to programs that wouldn't even look at the app is....senseless.

TL;DR

If there is a resource that shows applicant generated info from applicants with low step scores to get a feel for a cutoff, e.g. my step score was <210 and I got interviews at X,Y,Z, can someone point me to it? I've searched with no luck.

If there isn't, what's the best way to rally the troops to make this happen on SDN without it turning into a "what are my chances" thread? <-- I guess that's more rhetorical than anything. I suppose if there are no existing resources, I'll try my fate and start a thread.
 
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shoal007

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Between Freida, EMRA Match, and program specific websites there is a dearth of information about Step scores cutoffs and the info that is there can be conflicting.
The concern for me in having a low Step 1 score (like actually low, not "boo hoo I only got a 220") is to waste money on applying to schools that have cutoff scores. I am pretty sure I'll match somewhere based on the NRMP data. So, I'm not looking for a "what are my chances" kind of thread which there are plenty of.

What I think would help everyone in similar shoes as me is to know where not to bother applying based solely upon a Step score threshold. Obviously, there is no sense in me spending dollars on applying to programs like Stanford, Carolinas, etc. But what about other programs that aren't as obvious?

The programs themselves, for the most part, don't seem to be too open to actually stating a cutoff score. I'm still a year out from applying but have started trying to see what my options are in EM based upon my application strength up to this point. It would be great if there were some applicant generated data that are available for those of us on the left end of the bell curve to know where we can save some dollars by not sending an app to a program that will screen us out instantaneously solely based upon objective score cutoffs. I understand that there's always a chance based on other components of our app, but those I would call reach programs and I'd like to at least know which those are before I apply to them blindly. Obviously, for those of us on the bottom end, it's a numbers game. The more we apply to the greater the chance of matching, but senselessly spending money on applying to programs that wouldn't even look at the app is....senseless.

TL;DR

If there is a resource that shows applicant generated info from applicants with low step scores to get a feel for a cutoff, e.g. my step score was <210 and I got interviews at X,Y,Z, can someone point me to it? I've searched with no luck.

If there isn't, what's the best way to rally the troops to make this happen on SDN without it turning into a "what are my chances" thread? <-- I guess that's more rhetorical than anything. I suppose if there are no existing resources, I'll try my fate and start a thread.
if your score is 210 or less. i highly reccommend applying to all programs youre willing to go to. 50+ isnt a bad idea. yes its expensive, but cheaper then a missed year. you can always turn down interviews if youre so lucky.

Sent from my VS986 using Tapatalk
 

tnedoots

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if your score is 210 or less. i highly reccommend applying to all programs youre willing to go to. 50+ isnt a bad idea. yes its expensive, but cheaper then a missed year. you can always turn down interviews if youre so lucky.

Sent from my VS986 using Tapatalk
But that's kind of what I was hoping to avoid, if possible. Let's say my score is <210. I think at that score, I should just be happy to match anywhere. So, if money were not an issue, I should just apply to every single program, all 182 of them according to FREIDA, and call it good. But money is an issue. So, say for example only 50 of those 182 would actually look at my app based upon my step score, I should only apply to those 50 and maybe a few more reach programs that I take a very active role in pursuing.

Knowing which 50 those are is what I was hoping to find out. If that info doesn't exist, seems like the perfect sort of thing for the SDN community to crowd source.
 
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shoal007

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dont apply to large cities, highly desirable areas or the following: cincinatti, indy, hcmc, denver, salt lake, california anything, oregon, washington. look at midwest, ny state, penn, ohio, michigan. the more number of programs a state has, the better your chances are for a interview based purely on numbers.

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tnedoots

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It helps, but "overlook" is too generous of a word in this scenario
Cinematographer, you've done a lot on here to help applicants out and it's definitely much appreciated. What are your thoughts on the viability of having step scores as an additional data point with what you've done, not neccesarily a specific number but ranges like 200-205, 206-210, etc? Or having it as a completely separate survey?

It has to be a common concern judging the amount of "will I even match" threads. It seems simple to me but I haven't tried to put things together like you have. Your insight is probably the best to know whether this is a viable thing to accomplish.
 

gutonc

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Here's the thing about score cutoffs. Most programs won't publish them because they don't want to be bound by them.

Filtering apps is an iterative process. And as mentioned in the ERAS forum, there are about 50 pre-built filters and programs can create any more that they want on discrete data in ERAS.

So collecting this information certainly not a bad idea, but will not in any way be useful for you as an applicant. What's to prevent a PD from sitting down on the couch with a beer in hand, at the end of a long day slogging through app after app of entitled d-bags with 250+ step scores and running a filter on Step 1 200-220 and address in Nebraska and inviting everyone who falls in that group?

Answer: nothing

Don't sweat what you can't control.
 

tnedoots

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Here's the thing about score cutoffs. Most programs won't publish them because they don't want to be bound by them.

Filtering apps is an iterative process. And as mentioned in the ERAS forum, there are about 50 pre-built filters and programs can create any more that they want on discrete data in ERAS.

So collecting this information certainly not a bad idea, but will not in any way be useful for you as an applicant. What's to prevent a PD from sitting down on the couch with a beer in hand, at the end of a long day slogging through app after app of entitled d-bags with 250+ step scores and running a filter on Step 1 200-220 and address in Nebraska and inviting everyone who falls in that group?

Answer: nothing

Don't sweat what you can't control.
I hear you and I respect the insight.
I'm not really sweating anything. Just trying to start figuring out how to get the most bang for my time and dollars when I'm applying next year. There's definitely a chance that your scenario could occur; maybe that'll be me one day throwing the underdog a bone while drinking a beer. But economically, it's better for me to bank on the programs that have repeatedly invited candidates with scores in my range than to hope for that chance outcome. There are so many subjective elements to applications and so many applicants that I know PDs absolutely have to have objective measures to just to eliminate some number of applicants or else they could never get through the apps. Some programs make things clear like OHSU: "There is not a cut off, but we typically match with applicants with 220+ on USMLE." They put that right in their FAQ. That let's me know that I shouldn't really apply there unless I want to chase it down. I can only chase down so many programs. So, unless OHSU really gets me going, I should save my dollars and not apply. If only most programs were so straightforward.

I know this may seem kind of petty. I also know that, once I'm on your side of the fence, I'll look back at this process as just another bump in this long long road. The same way I kind of view the med school application process. However, it's really unfortunate that this process is such a black box as we progress through it. It's as though we reinvent the wheel each application cycle for common scenarios that throw definable wrenches, like low step scores, into people's applications. Just tell me it's not likely to get an interview at XYZ program and I'll move along; no harm, no foul.

The value of these forums, I think, lies in the ability for people who have recently crossed one of the milestones along this path to relay info that shines some light on those of still in the dark.
 
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DeadCactus

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The time to save money is when you choose cheaper schools for your undergraduate and medical education followed by not living in ridiculously expensive cities for your training or life as a young attending. The time to save money is not when you're looking at a few hundred more dollars while applying to residency. You don't even have to fill out those BS secondary applications and essays like medical school makes you do. Let other people reject you, you don't need to do their work for them...
 

gman33

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Apply to any program of interest.
But make sure you apply to a lot of programs where you have a realistic shot.
 
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racerwad

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The time to save money is when you choose cheaper schools for your undergraduate and medical education followed by not living in ridiculously expensive cities for your training or life as a young attending. The time to save money is not when you're looking at a few hundred more dollars while applying to residency. You don't even have to fill out those BS secondary applications and essays like medical school makes you do. Let other people reject you, you don't need to do their work for them...
Honestly, the above is the best advice in the thread.

As @gutonc made clear, there is nothing that prevents programs from moving the bar year to year (or even within the app cycle). Specific data like this that was accurate for one cycle may not be the next. The best way to find out is to call/email the programs individually. A PD might say, "Your Step 1 is too low." That is your chance to talk about Step 2. It is doubtful that they'll agree to review your app a year before you apply if you maybe improve on Step 2, but, if you do improve, then you have the perfect reason to call back next year with an updated score and keep yourself on their radar.

Control the things within your control. Improve on Step 2, audition, and network like crazy.
 
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trackrunner321

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I would definitely say that most cut-off values are not set in stone. I most definitely did not do well on Step 1 (<220) and was offered interviews at almost everywhere I applied including UPMC, Carolinas, Denver, etc... EM programs look at much more than Step 1 scores. I would recommend applying broadly, but don not be afraid to apply to "reach" programs you are in interested in. Improving on Step 2 would definitely help. Honoring your EM rotations and getting great SLOEs will go a long way as well.
 
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tnedoots

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Thanks for your replies. I hear what you are saying. It just seems that the more info we have going into the application cycle the better, but there's a common theme of resistance from residents and attendings when the subject of step scores comes up on SDN.

The conflicting messages about board scores make it difficult to plan. The message before the boards: Step 1 and 2 are incredibly important, don't screw them up. The message after the boards, especially if the score is mediocre/poor: those board scores, don't worry about them, there's lots to look at on your app.
It's not something I understand now perhaps when I am in your shoes I will.

I ask these questions about programs now to help put together a strategy for applications next year. When money and step scores aren't an issue, it's easy to just apply to wherever you want to go. When both are an issue strategy becomes important.

However, it appears it is what it is. So, when the time comes, I'll just apply to as many as I can afford and hope they are ones that I have the best shot at getting into.
 
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doggydog

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Thanks for your replies. I hear what you are saying. It just seems that the more info we have going into the application cycle the better, but there's a common theme of resistance from residents and attendings when the subject of step scores comes up on SDN.
You are joking, right? There is no resistance to your questions. People are telling you everything that they know. No one knows which programs like what. People with high step 1 scores get rejections too. It just seems like you don't want the truth, rather to be babied and told you will be fine.

You messed up step 1, deal with it. There is no magic answer or set of programs that will for sure interview you. Either pick a less competitive speciality so you don't have to apply broadly or do what the rest of us do and apply to more programs to lessen the risk.
 

shouldigomd

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The whole thing is a game so all you can do is roll the dice. Pay an extra grand to give yourself a shot at something as important as residency. Luck plays a roll and as previously mentioned people get in with below cutoff stats and others get rejected with superior stats. I have high stats but as an IMG I probably will get autodeleted at places like Ucolorado and the likes. I still applied for my .05% chance at getting interviewed.
 
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Apollyon

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Resistance? Of late, I've noticed a bunch of what I would call "millennial bull****" about aggression, unhelpfulness, and "trolling", just because people get a negative answer. Seriously, I wonder how these people are going to function, being so delicate. It surely makes me reconsider saying anything.
 

red10

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You need to do as many EM rotations as you can at places you want to be/think you may have a shot. If you have a home program they are going to know you best and are more likely to "forgive" your score. Places you can get rotation may also be more likely to "forgive" if every resident loves you and you're a hard worker. You might also benefit from killing step 2. How much these help and who will be willing to give you a shot are too variable for anyone to know but your best shots are going to be places where you can show them how awesome you are before they really see your step 1 score.

Take out one of the extra med student relocation loan things if you need to cover the money. You'll be able to pay it off once you're making money in residency. You won't be able to pay off any loan if you only apply to 10 places and don't match.
 

tnedoots

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Resistance? Of late, I've noticed a bunch of what I would call "millennial bull****" about aggression, unhelpfulness, and "trolling", just because people get a negative answer. Seriously, I wonder how these people are going to function, being so delicate. It surely makes me reconsider saying anything.
Yes, there is a lot of millennial bull**** on here. However, I didn't mention aggression, unhelpfulness, nor trolling. The responses were helpful and I thanked people for their responses. In fact, I said that I would follow the given advice. If anyone took my posts to be whining or sniveling, then I did a poor job of conveying my message. Feel free to search any of my posts to see if referring to me with any of these adjectives is warranted.

For whatever it is worth, allow me to clarify. When I said "resistance" I meant that any other question can be asked about a residency program and without hesitation a response will come: do they accept DOs/IMGs/FMGs, do they expect research, what's the pay, what are the hours, etc. But ask about Step 1/2 averages or cutoffs and the brakes come on when it comes to firm answers, look above and throughout SDN to see this. This is what I meant by "resistance". If that's a poor word to describe this fact, then feel free to substitute whichever word you like.
And, again, it's not something I understand now, but perhaps later down the line I will.