Aug 2, 2017
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Hey guys,

What step score does one need to be competitive at the top surgical programs (hopkins ENT, UCSF neurosurgery, etc). I realize the application process is about much more than just step, and that obviously no step score guarantees acceptance into any program, but I'm asking the question particularly because I'm a current MS3 trying to gauge how competitive I am. I got my step score (high 250s) and am wondering, assuming everything else goes well, if I will be competitive for the top programs in my field of interest or if not breaking 260 kind of shuts the door on the tippy top residencies.

Thanks a lot
 

iceman55

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May 9, 2010
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No your step score is fine. From what I've heard and seen breaking breaking 260 doesn't really mean **** once you're in the high 240s and up.

Matching at those programs you mentioned in those fields usually comes down to doing an away rotation and getting to know the people at those places and them also liking you along with you having the stats. Or being a very decorated applicant that everybody wants.


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Jabbed

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No your step score is fine. From what I've heard and seen breaking breaking 260 doesn't really mean **** once you're in the high 240s and up.

Matching at those programs you mentioned in those fields usually comes down to doing an away rotation and getting to know the people at those places and them also liking you along with you having the stats. Or being a very decorated applicant that everybody wants.


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Ehh.. I agree with you in principle but I don't think the cutoff is in the 240's.

OP in the high 250's shouldn't get screened out anywhere, but it won't be a trump card for top programs.
 
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iceman55

7+ Year Member
May 9, 2010
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Ehh.. I agree with you in principle but I don't think the cutoff is in the 240's.

OP in the high 250's shouldn't get screened out anywhere, but it won't be a trump card for top programs.
Essentially there is no cut off at these space. If they know you and like you, your chances are High. Though its only an n=3, I personally know 3 guys with scores in the 230/240s that are currently first and second year residents at top 10 ortho programs. You know what they all have in common besides their step score, they all did a rotation those places.

However, I'm also not implying that someone with a 220 can go rotate at these places and expect to match, chances would still be very low. you gotta have the whole package.


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failedatlife

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Gotta love medical students becoming the experts on residency selection. I love that you guys have sat on the other side and know exactly how the process works and what step scores you need. Excellent advice!
 

operaman

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In some ways, the step score matters less for the most competitive residencies. At a certain level, so many applicants have great scores that they just fade into the background. I can say from my n=1 experience interviewing applicants last year that I literally didn't even look at their step scores; I assumed the people who did all the initial screening had already covered it. So yes it matters, but once you clear that initial threshold, I think it probably weighs less than in another field where a high score would really make you stand out.

Your score is just fine. Now go pair it with some stellar grades, solid research, glowing letters, truly interesting and compelling ECs, and a likeable personality and you will have no doors closed to you.
 
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sliceofbread136

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I really don't think a high 250 is viewed that differently from even a 270, but I guess I can't really say for sure. It's very different from medical school admissions where a 40 was so much better than a 37
 

Osteoth

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No your step score is fine. From what I've heard and seen breaking breaking 260 doesn't really mean **** once you're in the high 240s and up.

Matching at those programs you mentioned in those fields usually comes down to doing an away rotation and getting to know the people at those places and them also liking you along with you having the stats. Or being a very decorated applicant that everybody wants.
I've heard of 250/AOA screens at some top residency spots (Derm, Nsurg).

Essentially there is no cut off at these space. If they know you and like you, your chances are High. Though its only an n=3, I personally know 3 guys with scores in the 230/240s that are currently first and second year residents at top 10 ortho programs. You know what they all have in common besides their step score, they all did a rotation those places.

However, I'm also not implying that someone with a 220 can go rotate at these places and expect to match, chances would still be very low. you gotta have the whole package.
Yeah but how many rotations can you get? And how hard is it to guarantee an exemplary rotation? Not saying it doesn't happen but without top level scores you're pretty much giving yourself 2-4 shots at getting into residency where you have to be damn near perfect for a month.

Gotta love medical students becoming the experts on residency selection. I love that you guys have sat on the other side and know exactly how the process works and what step scores you need. Excellent advice!
All we can do is use the information we have to give the best advice we can. Why degrade our attempt without adding anything yourself? Negativity is not productive.
 

Syncrohnize

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Hey guys,

What step score does one need to be competitive at the top surgical programs (hopkins ENT, UCSF neurosurgery, etc). I realize the application process is about much more than just step, and that obviously no step score guarantees acceptance into any program, but I'm asking the question particularly because I'm a current MS3 trying to gauge how competitive I am. I got my step score (high 250s) and am wondering, assuming everything else goes well, if I will be competitive for the top programs in my field of interest or if not breaking 260 kind of shuts the door on the tippy top residencies.

Thanks a lot

260 better than 250
250 you're set
240 you're not out
 

operaman

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I think the rumors of step 1 and AOA screens are somewhat overstated. The only place I can see that helping would be a very competitive program that also happens to have a rather small faculty where the burden of reviewing all the applications would be too much for them to bear, or where the job of selecting interviewees falls to a small cadre of staff. I'm not sure how often this happens since most elite programs tend to garner their elite status from the depth and breadth of their faculty and their associated clinical and research productivity.

That said, even without an actual screen, it probably tends to work out that way anyhow.
 

Osteoth

Fake it till ya' make it
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260 better than 250
250 you're set
240 you're not out
I like this phrasing.

I think the rumors of step 1 and AOA screens are somewhat overstated. The only place I can see that helping would be a very competitive program that also happens to have a rather small faculty where the burden of reviewing all the applications would be too much for them to bear, or where the job of selecting interviewees falls to a small cadre of staff. I'm not sure how often this happens since most elite programs tend to garner their elite status from the depth and breadth of their faculty and their associated clinical and research productivity.

That said, even without an actual screen, it probably tends to work out that way anyhow.
Yeah the couple of places that I heard mentioned were in derm and neurosurgery and were among some of the best "brand-name" places in the country as well (Hopkins, Mass Gen) where they're literally looking at a stack of 400 applicants for 2 spots.
 
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