Are the USMLE Step 2 exams important for my residency application? When should I take the Step 2 exams?

The importance of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) exam can vary depending on the applicant’s Step 1 score, specialty choice, and residency programs where they will be applying.

For those who are dissatisfied with the results of their Step 1 score, improvement on Step 2 CK can be very helpful to their residency application. These students need to take Step 2 CK early enough to allow their results to be available for programs. In these cases, Step 2 CK should be taken in July-August so the results will be back in time for review by the programs beginning Sept. 15 when the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) opens.

For those who are satisfied with their Step 1 score, there may be some programs that will require Step 2 CK for ranking in February. The applicant will need to review the websites of those programs they are interviewing with to see if this is a requirement for ranking. It is estimated to take 3-4 weeks for scores to be returned after completion of the exam – but there can be delays in reporting so schedule accordingly!

IMPORTANT: The Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) exam should be scheduled no later than May 31 of the year you plan to apply for residency. Testing centers fill up quickly! It generally takes 4-6 weeks to get your results back. At this point, no programs are requiring the Step 2 CS score for ranking, but this could change and applicants need to do their own research. We recommend taking the Step 2 CS exam by November so it’s back in plenty of time for ranking in February.

When should I ask for Letters of Recommendation (LOR)?

Letters of recommendation are an important part of the application.  Students can begin asking faculty for letters during their clinical rotations.  However, the letters cannot be processed for the students until they are registered with the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) or the early matches since the registration number of the applicant should be included in the letter.  After an applicant registers on ERAS, he/she can forward a cover letter with instructions on how the faculty member can submit the letter.

What is the due date for sending letters of recommendation to programs?

The letters of recommendation are part of a completed application. Many programs will include a date on which they would like the applications to be complete.  Applicants should check the websites of the programs they are considering to determine when the application should be complete including letters of recommendation.

If I am registered on ERAS, am I also registered for the match (NRMP)?

No, your ERAS registration does not mean you are registered for the National Match.  ERAS and NRMP are two separate entities. You will pay a fee to register for the National Match on their web site.  Registration opens September 15.When should I send my ERAS application to programs?

There is a slight advantage in sending your applications out as early as possible.  The applications can be sent out before all the letters of recommendation are received.  Applicants can start transmitting their application on September 15th.

When are the AOA elections at Washington University?

Students at Washington University are elected to Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society during their final year of medical school.  Elections are held in late summer and December.

Should I let programs know if I’m matching as a couple?

In terms of couples’ matching, most programs want to know and it is fine to include that on your application or at the end of your personal statement.  At the Dean’s Letter meeting with Dr. Diemer, the individual circumstances will be discussed with each student as there are a few specialties where it is not advisable to inform them of your plans.

Can I schedule an interview and then cancel it later?  When should I cancel an interview?

Interviews can be cancelled but should be cancelled with enough time that the program can offer the interview spot to another applicant – so the earlier the better, but at least two weeks before the scheduled date.