You have questions...we have answers!
Question: Do I need to take the USMLE Step 1 and/or 2 exams?
Answer: It depends! There are many variables including what your chosen specialty is, whether you will apply for strictly Texas programs (or a mix of in-state and out-of-state programs), if you are applying to AOA and / or ACGME programs, your performance on COMLEX 1, etc.
During your individual residency counseling session, we will discuss whether or not the USMLE Step 1 and / or 2 exams are applicable in your particular situation. It's not the same for everyone! Please consult with the Office of Career Development first...prior to making such an important decision. We want to ensure you're on the right track!
Question: How can I prepare well for the Match?
Answer: One of the most important components of your academic record utilized by residency programs to prioritize applicants leading up to the Match are your COMLEX and / or USMLE scores. Many programs use these scores as their first cut-off point, meaning that if your scores do not meet their screening threshold, they may never see the rest of your application. These exams are critically important. In particular, failures on one or more of these exams can create hurdles that are difficult to overcome.
Fortunately, we do have some strategy and predictors to assist you in making decisions about how / when / if...
1) Prepare adequately for ALL exams you will take, because the application service contracts require you to disclose all your scores!
2) Take the COMSAE and use that information to inform your strategy!
3) Don't take USMLE unless you really need it. Obviously, students interested primarily or exclusively in AOA accredited programs will not need it. Most students interested in primary care specialties will not need it, even if you are looking at ACGME programs. Some of the most competitive ACGME primary care programs will still require USMLE, so have an idea of your top 10 programs of interest and find out. Check program websites or call program coordinators to find out. The TCOM Career Development Office can tell you which programs we've had students match into without USMLE scores.
4) Students in the bottom 15% of the class and those who have had to remediate >1 course or have repeated a year should probably not take USMLE. For those who are determined to do so, I suggest...
-Take the COMSAE exam, which can be used to predict your likelihood of passing. If you score below 380 on COMSAE, you are at HIGH RISK to fail USMLE. DON'T TAKE IT!
-You could also delay taking USMLE until your COMLEX 1 score is available. If you score below 430 on COMLEX 1, you are at HIGH RISK to fail USMLE. DON'T TAKE IT!
5) You need PASSING COMLEX 2 PE and COMLEX 2 CS scores ideally for the interview season, but definitely no later than the Rank Order List deadlines. Take them as early as you feel you can be prepared. If you had difficulty with COMLEX 1, bear that in mind and be sure you have time to re-take COMLEX 2 if needed. Work with the CAP Office to improve your performance!
6) Take advantage of the review / prep opportunities for COMLEX 2 PE offered by Dr. Dayberry, Associate Dean.
Lisa R. Nash, DO, MS-HPEd, FAAFP
Associate Dean - Educational Programs