Nov 27, 2013
6
1
Status
Medical Student
Hi everyone,

First off thanks for reading this because I really need some advice and this forum worked well for me in the past so I figured I'd give it another shot. Some background - I'm a third year medical student in an MD program at a respected (but not top tier) state medical school. I came to medical school from a previous career, do not have any research background or publications and recently got my step 1 score back. Unsurprisingly I did not do well - a 208 :/ The facts are that I may have studied a solid 2 1/2 weeks for the exam and I needed more time. That coupled with the fact that both of my parents were sick during my second year, made the fact that I made it through at all quite miraculous in my book. I wanted to take a further Leave of Absence but financially it just wasn't possible.

That said, I get this is a numbers game. My transcript in medical school is pretty average (my school has a Pass, High Pass, and Honors) system and I'm probably in the lower half after second year's consistent passing grades. What I'd like to know-and what I know has been discussed in other forums but none that I could find recently-is whether I can rebound from this type of low score? I really do not have a sense of how large a difference there is between my score and say a 220 or 200. I was not even able to get through 1/2 of UWorld with everything that I had going on personally.

As far as my professional goals go, I am not trying to do anything terribly competitive and to be honest still haven't quite narrowed down what I want to do. To give you an idea my list currently includes IM, psychiatry, and pathology. I'd like to get into the best program I can and know it's useless to rely on excuses or to bemoan the fact that scores matter. What I want to know is where do I need to set my goal for Step 2 CK? If I was able to pull out a 260 could that make a big difference in matching to better IM programs? I have scored in the 99% on previous exams and know that I can do it with the right strategy and study materials (barring any further acts of God such as what happened this past year). Thanks again for reading and your advice in advance.
 

doopdidoop

7+ Year Member
Jun 4, 2009
170
3
Status
Medical Student
the short answer is yes. i know someone who went up by 40 points...but you need to go balls to the wall and shut out the outside world for 1 month plus. you need to put in the time and have a disciplined study schedule. there's no magic number anyone can tell you, so just aim as high as you possibly can. and you need to make sure every other aspect of your application is perfect. that means making good impressions in 3rd year on rotations, kicking ass on shelf exams, getting glowing letters of recommendation, and doing an away or 2 if you can afford it/have time. it's not the end of the world, but you have your work cut out for you! good luck!
 
OP
N
Nov 27, 2013
6
1
Status
Medical Student
Thanks doop, you're awesome! So when you say short answer is yes do you mean that it's possible for me to still be competitive at top programs for IM? I'm just curious as to what my possibilities are if I can haul ass as you describe ;)
 
Nov 28, 2013
10
0
Status
Medical Student
I actually registered this account just to reply to this topic. One of my buddies got a 210 on step 1 and was applying to EM. He was doing OK as far as interviews go because his letters and grades from 3rd year were good, but then he took step 2, got a 268 and since then he's gotten numerous interviews from spectacular programs (no Ivy leagues of course).

Although the story I've told is anecdotal, I think the answer is that yes, you can definitely bounce back from a bad/mediocre step 1.
 
OP
N
Nov 27, 2013
6
1
Status
Medical Student
There's something special about the people who take the time to come on here and support others in our common goals. It's just very selfless and I think it's why I like studentdoctor.net so much. But thanks very much Recettear, appreciate you sharing and doubly for taking the time to register just to reply. I need these stories to cement my resolve. Keep them coming if you have more. And best of luck to you too and Happy Thanksgiving!
 
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amine2086

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 16, 2009
528
64
Hola!
Status
Medical Student
Hi everyone,

First off thanks for reading this because I really need some advice and this forum worked well for me in the past so I figured I'd give it another shot. Some background - I'm a third year medical student in an MD program at a respected (but not top tier) state medical school. I came to medical school from a previous career, do not have any research background or publications and recently got my step 1 score back. Unsurprisingly I did not do well - a 208 :/ The facts are that I may have studied a solid 2 1/2 weeks for the exam and I needed more time. That coupled with the fact that both of my parents were sick during my second year, made the fact that I made it through at all quite miraculous in my book. I wanted to take a further Leave of Absence but financially it just wasn't possible.

That said, I get this is a numbers game. My transcript in medical school is pretty average (my school has a Pass, High Pass, and Honors) system and I'm probably in the lower half after second year's consistent passing grades. What I'd like to know-and what I know has been discussed in other forums but none that I could find recently-is whether I can rebound from this type of low score? I really do not have a sense of how large a difference there is between my score and say a 220 or 200. I was not even able to get through 1/2 of UWorld with everything that I had going on personally.

As far as my professional goals go, I am not trying to do anything terribly competitive and to be honest still haven't quite narrowed down what I want to do. To give you an idea my list currently includes IM, psychiatry, and pathology. I'd like to get into the best program I can and know it's useless to rely on excuses or to bemoan the fact that scores matter. What I want to know is where do I need to set my goal for Step 2 CK? If I was able to pull out a 260 could that make a big difference in matching to better IM programs? I have scored in the 99% on previous exams and know that I can do it with the right strategy and study materials (barring any further acts of God such as what happened this past year). Thanks again for reading and your advice in advance.
The short answer is YES. It has been done in the past. But it is not going to be easy. Just like step 1, step 2 requires one to be good test taker and have broad knowledge base. If you have done poorly on step 1 because of the distractions (i.e. got unlikely by the curve ball life threw at you), you can definitely improve on your step 2 score. Whether or not the improvement is going to be 50 points is difficult to answer. Being said that residency application is about numbers and at the same time about a lot more than numbers. Most programs use numbers as filters so your step 1 score alone may filter you out of the running at some of the very best schools regardless of the specialty you choose. Once you make it over the filter, it's about all the other things that make up residency application: clerkship grades (although many places use this as filter as well), research, LORs, ECs, PS, blah, blah. You can't change what has already happened. So, focus on doing your very best going forward. Good luck.
 

HelpPleaseMD

7+ Year Member
Aug 4, 2011
1,057
234
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Hi everyone,

First off thanks for reading this because I really need some advice and this forum worked well for me in the past so I figured I'd give it another shot. Some background - I'm a third year medical student in an MD program at a respected (but not top tier) state medical school. I came to medical school from a previous career, do not have any research background or publications and recently got my step 1 score back. Unsurprisingly I did not do well - a 208 :/ The facts are that I may have studied a solid 2 1/2 weeks for the exam and I needed more time. That coupled with the fact that both of my parents were sick during my second year, made the fact that I made it through at all quite miraculous in my book. I wanted to take a further Leave of Absence but financially it just wasn't possible.

That said, I get this is a numbers game. My transcript in medical school is pretty average (my school has a Pass, High Pass, and Honors) system and I'm probably in the lower half after second year's consistent passing grades. What I'd like to know-and what I know has been discussed in other forums but none that I could find recently-is whether I can rebound from this type of low score? I really do not have a sense of how large a difference there is between my score and say a 220 or 200. I was not even able to get through 1/2 of UWorld with everything that I had going on personally.

As far as my professional goals go, I am not trying to do anything terribly competitive and to be honest still haven't quite narrowed down what I want to do. To give you an idea my list currently includes IM, psychiatry, and pathology. I'd like to get into the best program I can and know it's useless to rely on excuses or to bemoan the fact that scores matter. What I want to know is where do I need to set my goal for Step 2 CK? If I was able to pull out a 260 could that make a big difference in matching to better IM programs? I have scored in the 99% on previous exams and know that I can do it with the right strategy and study materials (barring any further acts of God such as what happened this past year). Thanks again for reading and your advice in advance.

its possible to score better but you will have to bust your ass. your history of passes / low step 1 score makes it statistically unlikely that you will score high on step 2. If you honor out of 3rd year, and do well on step 2s, maybe you will get a few looks at upper mid tier IM programs. Its hard to get interviews at the top without aoa/ research / great board scores coming from a state school. i know this may not be the answer you want to hear, but its the way it is.

that said, best of luck.
 
Last edited:

jackson1

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
May 28, 2008
2,948
24
Status
Medical Student
Hi everyone,

First off thanks for reading this because I really need some advice and this forum worked well for me in the past so I figured I'd give it another shot. Some background - I'm a third year medical student in an MD program at a respected (but not top tier) state medical school. I came to medical school from a previous career, do not have any research background or publications and recently got my step 1 score back. Unsurprisingly I did not do well - a 208 :/ The facts are that I may have studied a solid 2 1/2 weeks for the exam and I needed more time. That coupled with the fact that both of my parents were sick during my second year, made the fact that I made it through at all quite miraculous in my book. I wanted to take a further Leave of Absence but financially it just wasn't possible.

That said, I get this is a numbers game. My transcript in medical school is pretty average (my school has a Pass, High Pass, and Honors) system and I'm probably in the lower half after second year's consistent passing grades. What I'd like to know-and what I know has been discussed in other forums but none that I could find recently-is whether I can rebound from this type of low score? I really do not have a sense of how large a difference there is between my score and say a 220 or 200. I was not even able to get through 1/2 of UWorld with everything that I had going on personally.

As far as my professional goals go, I am not trying to do anything terribly competitive and to be honest still haven't quite narrowed down what I want to do. To give you an idea my list currently includes IM, psychiatry, and pathology. I'd like to get into the best program I can and know it's useless to rely on excuses or to bemoan the fact that scores matter. What I want to know is where do I need to set my goal for Step 2 CK? If I was able to pull out a 260 could that make a big difference in matching to better IM programs? I have scored in the 99% on previous exams and know that I can do it with the right strategy and study materials (barring any further acts of God such as what happened this past year). Thanks again for reading and your advice in advance.
Definitely possible!

All you can do now is concentrate on 3rd year. If you study well for shelfs and work hard on your rotations it'll be a double benefit in that you'll get good grades and be prepared for step 2. I'm not sure specifically about IM, but residency programs in general really seem to care about step 2. Best of luck! :)
 
Last edited:

swamprat

10+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2008
1,701
165
Status
Attending Physician
Just to add to the support, had a friend go from 240s -> 270s. Its possible. With that said, a lot of people thought it was harder to study and do well on step 2 ck because answers are not as cut and dry as step 1.. hopefully you don't feel that way. Best advice as a third year would be study hard and try and ace your shelves.. that knowledge is what will take you to the top when it comes to CK.
 

HelpPleaseMD

7+ Year Member
Aug 4, 2011
1,057
234
Status
Resident [Any Field]
^ lol. your friend is either misinformed, lying or attends a community program.
 
Jan 6, 2014
140
49
Boston
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Step 2 isn't likely to erase a Step 1, but the bigger the difference in your score, the more likely a program is to notice the Step 2 and take it seriously on its own merit.

The most important thing you can do for Step 2 CK is study for your shelf exams and really read up for each clerkship. Buy USMLE World for the whole year and use it throughout. Then, I'd recommend you take Step 2 at the beginning of fourth year and give yourself a month to absolutely dominate UW (reset it before the big push) and do nothing else. After a year of studying your clerkships, a month of straight questions with UW is enough to give you a serious score boost. But you have to do enough questions.

By taking it early, the programs will have this score when they receive your application. So don't put it off.

Related note, if you go into psychiatry, 208 will close very few doors. Psychiatry programs are generally well known to take a more holisitic approach to application review than some of the more "competitive" fields.
 
OP
N
Nov 27, 2013
6
1
Status
Medical Student
Thanks everyone for your responses. People keep talking about community programs? What's this mean? And how can I go about selecting programs that I have a good chance of matching into? I have zero issue going wherever I need to go in order to attend the best IM program I can. That in mind, what do I need to do to decide which programs will put me in the best position for fellowships, beggars can't be choosers etc etc. PS - I got High Pass in IM Clerkship so I need to keep pushing forward. My low fund of knowledge didn't help but I'm still trying to plow ahead.
 
Jan 6, 2014
140
49
Boston
Status
Resident [Any Field]
"Community program" means not affiliated with a large academic center. There are a lot of random hospitals that have residencies but not the grinding research enterprise or medical school. These are community programs, and some are quite good.

You'll apply broadly. While you won't need to apply to big name academic powerhouses like MGH, you'll apply to academic programs (especially in your region) as well as community programs. Like college and medical school, it's important to have a mix.