I just discovered this forum and am glad I did. I am choosing electives for next year and dont have many resources to ask for information. My questions concern what electives to take and also where I should realistically be applying. In terms of electives, I have scheduled an ICU month, but unfortunately it falls in Feb, after interviews have already finished. Will this be a big drawback in that I won't be able to discuss any ICU experiences during the interview? I plan to schedule an anesthesia rotation in Sept. I had originally not planned to do any away rotations, but from what I've been reading it seems like this could really give me a foot in the door and help bolster what otherwise would be an average application. This brings me to my second question, which is what programs should I realistically expect to be competitive for so that I don't waste my time doing an away at a program I could never get into. My stats are midwestern medical school w middle of the pack USN&W rankings, USMLE Step I was mid 230's, grades are a mix of mostly P's, some HP and H's. I am pretty tired of the midwest, and would like to go to a school with a great environment and reputation. That being said, I am looking at the West coast schools like Stanford, UCSF, UCSD. Do I honestly have a chance at UCSF or Stanford? I am a good person to work with and have always gotten good clinical comments, it's just the standardized clerkship exam scores pull me down. Other schools I am considering are U of Michigan, WashU, MGH, B&W. Honestly I would like to go to the best program that I can get into (and of course that I find appealing in terms of environment, atmosphere, etc.) Finally, I plan to take the Step II in Aug and release my scores. I figure if I can really do well, like say 245 or better that this will help with my lackluster clerkship grades so far. Would this significantly improve my chances of matching at some of the top programs? I appreciate your comments and any other suggestions on what I could do to improve my chances.