Neurosurgery has decreased in competitiveness and is below Orthopedics, Derm, and ORL in the USMLE scores needed for a spot. I'm not sure what the average scores were this year but the previous years hovered in the mid to high 220's.
This field is very research oriented and loves applicants with some type of research.
Some spots actually went unfilled this year so the difficulty in obtaining a spot has decreased but the fact that there are so few spot nationwide make it a little more difficult.
After perusing the FREIDA information on Neurosurg, I'd be interested to hear peoples impressions on why there is such a large drop-out rate in the residencies, with only ~80% of interns actually completing their training?
The research opportunities and ability to significantly impact the outcomes for such a diverse patient population in the field are exciting, but the large drop-out rate is worrisome - I would hate to enter the field and have to restart another specialty d/t misinformation.
The average board scores have been in the 230s, not in the 220s. Second, there were only 2 spots last year that went unmatched, but then quickly filled during the scramble. That is only 1.3% of available slots (hardly easy). The 20% drop-out rate is true, likely due to a very demanding and long training program. There has also been a shift (as has occured in other surgical specialties) to recruit research/academic types. This means a research background, publications, grants, etc are required at some places and certainly put you above the group at others.
I know several people that did not match this past year that would have been considered competitive by anyone's standards-- don't be fooled into thinking that a match into NS is easier than before.
Average Step 1 scores for matched Neurosurgery applicants:
But I do agree that there is an increasing preference for applicants with significant research experience.