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OKAP scores: how much do they matter?

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helpfulstranger

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I know that this has been discussed before. Some say yes it does matter, others say no. And I get that for some fellowship directors the scores matters, and that others don't care. I want to hear from someone who has experience selecting fellows, or participating in fellow selection, or overhearing conversations about selecting fellows. I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who know about oculoplastics. If you have specifics that can't be discussed on the board, please PM me.

I know this point has been belabored, so forgive me in advance. Thanks.
 

eyeguy85

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I know that this has been discussed before. Some say yes it does matter, others say no. And I get that for some fellowship directors the scores matters, and that others don't care. I want to hear from someone who has experience selecting fellows, or participating in fellow selection, or overhearing conversations about selecting fellows. I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who know about oculoplastics. If you have specifics that can't be discussed on the board, please PM me.

I know this point has been belabored, so forgive me in advance. Thanks.

They matter increasingly depending upon the competitiveness of the fellowship, i.e. oculoplastics >> competitive surgical retina > mediocre surgical retina > everything else.

It's just one of a number of variables including where you did residency and who your mentors are (that will pick up the phone and vouch for you) that will help you secure a fellowship interview. It's a red flag if your score is really low (<<50) but can help you stand out if your score is really high (>90). Once you secure an interview, it's all about if you mesh well with the program you are interviewing with.

Real life example: two residents at my institution both matched for plastics at top programs in the last 3 years. Both received nearly an identical list of interviews at what are considered the top programs and both were highly sought after. The difference in their 1st year OKAPs scores was >40 points.
 

TheLesPaul

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everyone has a score in the 90th percentile. if you don't, it will (probably) hurt you by a small, possibly significant amount, and if you do, you will just be one among many. no one gets an interview based on OKAPs.
 
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DrZeke

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everyone has a score in the 90th percentile. if you don't, it will (probably) hurt you by a small, possibly significant amount, and if you do, you will just be one among many. no one gets an interview based on OKAPs.

"Everyone has a score in the 90th percentile"?

By definition of the percentile method of scoring, I'm certain they do not. Not everyone applying to plastics or retina has a 90th percentile score. I know several people that have matched with sub 50th scores. Not advocating blowing off OKAPs, but I am not sure how much they matter. I would not let your score deter you from applying. Particularly if you've done the work of publishing, getting good letter writers and even doing an away rotation.




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TheLesPaul

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This guy was asking about plastics. They probably do. Remember plastics is based on 1st year okap and everything else is based on second year.
 

MullerCell

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Do the best you can, but you can absolutely still match in any subspecialty at a good fellowship with average or even below average scores. In regards to the fellowship match, I think the reason to do well on OKAPs is more so that your PD, Chair, and other members of the department have a high opinion of you and ultimately write a more favorable LOR and talk you up when they make phone calls on your behalf. While in reality your score is likely not a great reflection of how good a resident you are, in some departments it is emphasized and considered important. Many programs that are very busy are notorious for having very poor OKAP scores, especially 1st year. Many of these same programs are amongst the best in the country and match residents into great fellowships every year. You can certainly make up for a low score with other areas of the application.
 
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DrZeke

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This guy was asking about plastics. They probably do. Remember plastics is based on 1st year okap and everything else is based on second year.

I am talking about plastics as well. I know people who have matched plastics with so-so OKAPs scores. I think who is writing your letters and your performance in residency and publications are more important. Of course OKAPs will help but it's not the be all end all.


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DrZeke

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In regards to the fellowship match, I think the reason to do well on OKAPs is more so that your PD, Chair, and other members of the department have a high opinion of you and ultimately write a more favorable LOR and talk you up when they make phone calls on your behalf. While in reality your score is likely not a great reflection of how good a resident you are, in some departments it is emphasized and considered important.

I cannot stress this enough. Some programs put a lot of emphasis on your OKAP score and will "judge you" or make you do extra study sessions based on it. It sucks but it happens, so try and do well or above whatever cutoff they have for "study hall" or remediation. It's not the end of the world but it's just more stressful if you have to deal with that extra criticism from faculty and PD. You will know if you are at this type of program...


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eyeguy85

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everyone has a score in the 90th percentile. if you don't, it will (probably) hurt you by a small, possibly significant amount, and if you do, you will just be one among many. no one gets an interview based on OKAPs.

This guy was asking about plastics. They probably do. Remember plastics is based on 1st year okap and everything else is based on second year.


This is completely false. Yes, some do have 90+ percentile OKAP scores. But the range varies and it's a lot wider than you think. Some preceptors care more about scores than others but who is writing your letters of recommendation and where you trained for residency are vastly more important, overall.
 
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