Characteristics of Applicants Who Matched to Their Preferred Specialty in the 2014 Main Residency Match

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The first edition of Charting Outcomes in the Match was published in August 2006 to document how applicant qualifications affect success in the Main Residency Match®. The report was published biennially between 2007 and 2011.

Prior to 2014, Charting Outcomes in the Match was a collaborative publication of the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) and the Association of American Medical Colleges® (AAMC®). Match outcome data from the NRMP were combined with applicant characteristics from the AAMC’s Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®) and USMLE® scores from the AAMC data warehouse. However, starting with the 2014 Main Residency Match, the NRMP added a Professional Profile section to its Match registration process and was able to collect USMLE scores and other applicant characteristics used to produce this report. Thus, this fifth edition of Charting Outcomes in the Match is being published independently by the NRMP.

Some general observations apply to all specialties in this report. Applicants who are successful in matching to their preferred specialty are more likely to:

  1. Rank more programs within their preferred specialty
  2. Be U.S. allopathic medical school seniors
  3. Have higher USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 scores
  4. Be members of Alpha Omega Alpha

Although some other measures seem to be related to Match success for some specialties, the relationships are not consistent enough to draw broad conclusions across specialties. In addition, the data sources used for Charting Outcomes in the Match do not include other important applicant factors such as course evaluations, reference letters, and the Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE).

Despite the fairly strong relationship between USMLE Step scores and Match success, the distributions of scores show that program directors consider other qualifications. A high score is not a guarantee of success, and a lower score is not a bar to success. Even in the most competitive specialties a few individuals with higher scores are not successful. In the less competitive specialties, U.S. seniors with scores slightly above passing usually match to their preferred specialties. The data also are reassuring because they indicate that at least some programs do not employ an arbitrary cutoff or decline to consider applicants with less than excellent test performance.

The data in this report support the following straightforward advice one should give to an applicant:

  1. Rank all of the programs you really want, without regard to your estimate of your chances with those programs.
  2. Include a mix of both highly competitive and less competitive programs within your preferred specialty.
  3. Include all of the programs on your list where the program has expressed an interest in you and where you would accept a position.
  4. If you are applying to a competitive specialty and you want to have a residency position in the event you are unsuccessful in matching to a program in your preferred specialty, also rank your most preferred programs in an alternate specialty.
  5. Include all of your qualifications in your application, but know that you do not have to be AOA, have the highest USMLE scores, have publications, or have participated in research projects to match successfully.

Program directors and applicants will find the tables and charts for the specialty of their particular interest later in this report.

Please download the full report (Charting-Outcomes-2014-Final) from this link:
Prepared by:
National Resident Matching Program