Are USMLE® Score Predictors Accurate?


Are USMLE score predictors accurate?

by Christopher Cimino, MD, FACMI
Vice President, Kaplan Medical

Everyone would like the reassurance of knowing in advance the USMLE® score they will get. Most of you would settle for any kind of score prediction. Surely it should be possible to take a USMLE practice test and get some kind of prediction from that, right?
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March 2015: The USMLE® Step 1 Test Change


What does the March 2015 bulletin mean?

by Christopher Cimino, MD, FACMI
Vice President, Kaplan Medical

What does it mean when the USMLE® reduces the number of questions on their Step 1 exam from 322 to 308?

The short answer is: more time per question, right?

Yes, but there’s more. What people really want to know is what’s really going on, but the USMLE organization isn’t offering an explanation. We know the 322 questions are composed of some questions that cover the stated topics in roughly the stated proportions as described in the USMLE Bulletin. We also know that there are a few questions that aren’t counted toward the score. These un-scored questions are new items that are being tested to determine if they are good enough to be used in future USMLE exams. Our best guess is that when these 14 questions are removed in May 2015, … view full post »

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My Match Story

My Match StoryHoo boy. Match Day. On Match Day, you actually get an email which is very obnoxiously titled “Did I Match?”


And so, I opened the questionably questioning email which seemed to take an eternity to load and…

Well, I should probably tell you a bit more about myself. I studied medicine in the Central University of Venezuela, which, as you may suspect, is located in Venezuela. I then moved to the U.S. and did all my steps with Kaplan, whom honestly was a great help. My Kaplan med advisor helped me with my personal statement for the Match even though she had already left the center to start residency. I made many wonderful friends in the centers, and learned a lot in observerships I found … view full post »

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How to Get A Great Letter of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation for the NRMP Match

How do you get a great letter of recommendation? We’ve got some helpful tips.

I’m always asked if letters of recommendation are important.  They absolutely are, and I won’t even review an ERAS® application until I have at least two letters of recommendation uploaded, no matter how outstanding all of the other information might be.

I look closely at letters from other program or associate program directors or vice chairs of education. They might say something like, “I’ll be recruiting this person to my own program,” which is a great testament to that candidate’s characteristics and strengths. However, letters from hospitalist or ambulatory clinician educators and clerkship directors who have worked closely with the candidate carry as much weight.

Good letters incorporate how the writer knows the medical student, what specialty the candidate is applying to, the qualities of that person that make them an exceptional choice for the specialty in view full post »

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Your Road to Residency

Everyone has a role in this world, but your path is unique. Becoming a doctor in America takes more than a plane ticket and a great CV.

So, how do you become a doctor in America?

The path isn’t short, but every step of it is covered here. Check out the slideshow to learn more!


Your journey is just beginning. Visit to learn more about how you can start preparing for your medical career in the United States.… view full post »

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USMLE Step 2 CS: How to Avoid Common Pitfalls

Kaplan Medical’s Step 2 CS LivePrep program.

By: Melanie Piatkowski, Medical Programs Director for Live Programs at Kaplan Medical

How much thought have you given to the USMLE Step 2 CS when planning your road to residency? There are many aspects of this exam that I have seen students underestimate. I hope that by the end of this article, you will have gained insight as to the importance of this exam and how to avoid common pitfalls students encounter.

Don’t Underestimate the Cost.

It is important to consider the $1,480 cost of the exam itself as well as the additional travel and hotel expenses to one of the five USMLE Step 2 CS testing centers (Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles). Also, be aware of the new rescheduling fees (shown below).  Don’t underestimate the logistical and academic planning required in order to avoid having to pay up to $1,230 … view full post »

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Lessons Learned from the 2014 NRMP Match

med-Medical-Residency-Series-2014The academic year is in full swing. The interns are quickly learning the ropes and arcing the proverbial steep learning curve. It’s hard to believe that the new residency recruitment cycle is about to begin and that the ERAS mailbox has opened this week. As we prepare for the 2015 NRMP Match, it’s helpful to reflect on the 2014 match outcomes to see if there are lessons to be gleaned and predictions to be made.

Don’t miss the upcoming Medical Residency Event Series. Register here for free!

Medical Residency Applications: Advice & Tips from Residents
Thursday, SEPTEMBER 18 @ 8pm – 9pm ET / 5pm – 6pm PT

Medical Residency Interview Practice
Thursday, SEPTEMBER 25 @ 8pm – 9pm ET / 5pm – 6pm PT

Medical Residency Application Advice from Dr. Conrad Fischer
Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 30 @ 8pm – 9pm ET / 5pm – 6pm PT

Medical Residency Applications: Advice & Tips from view full post »

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USMLE Step 2 CK Minimum Passing Score Increases Yet Again

Step 2 CK MPSBy Maana Haghani

USMLE® Step 2 CK Minimum Passing Score Increase – June 2014
I was in Houston on June 2 to teach a Step 2 CK Test Taking Strategies seminar in the Kaplan live program. As soon I finished the seminar and checked my emails, I noticed an email from the ECFMG Newsletter on the Step 2 CK minimum passing score increase. I remembered how I had just told the students that the passing score was 203 and what they had to do to score well beyond the minimum required score. 

Why the change?
Generally, the USMLE Management Committee conducts a review of the USMLE exams’ minimum passing score. According to, based on consideration of certain criteria such as data on examinees’ performance and surveying various group, the committee decided to raise the recommended Step 2 CK minimum passing score from 203 to 209. This change is … view full post »

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Residency Application Series: Is the Looming Residency Shortage Overstated?

Photo credit: Herkie / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Over the last several years, much has been written on the statistics that predict a shortage of residency spots given the opening of several medical schools and the relatively stable number of graduate medical education slots. The decision to create more options for undergraduate medical education was predicated on the predicted future physician shortage.

Data recently released on the 2014 Match(SM) by the NRMP(R) show that the gap between numbers of allopathic medical school graduates and PGY-1 positions has remained fairly stable. Since 2002, the combined number of graduate students from U.S. allopathic and osteopathic schools has been lower than the total number of available first year positions in NRMP and AOA matches. At a recent graduate medical education meeting that I attended, interestingly, there was no talk of an impending shortage of residency spots. Perhaps … view full post »

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Issues Facing the VA Medical System

Photo Credit: Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo Credit: Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

“I’m Sorry Sir, We Have to Cancel Your Surgery Today”

Sure, there are worse things you can be forced to tell a patient, but seeing the reaction in my patient’s face after having to tell him we were canceling his hip replacement made me feel as though I’d just told him something far worse.   He’d been having severe pain in his right hip for several months and had been able to walk only a few steps at a time for several weeks due to the debilitating pain.  It’s hard to imagine how much he was looking forward to relief from pain and being able to walk again.

To make things worse, our patient was lying on the operating table preparing to undergo anesthesia induction when we got together with the anesthesia team and made the decision.  We felt … view full post »

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