Get Ready for Match 2014!

November 6, 2012
Kaplan Test Prep

Residency BlogCongratulations if you are checking items off the list in preparation for Match 2014! If you haven’t started, there is time still to meet the deadlines.

Match 2014 Checklist:

1. Apply for ECFMG Certification. Read through all of the pages on the website, and watch our video for step-by-step instructions on how to begin your ECFMG application.

2. Prepare thoroughly for the required USMLE®. Earning high scores will make you a more competitive candidate. Do NOT take the exams until you are confident you will pass.

Below are our expert recommendations for the individual USMLE® Step exams:

  • Step 2 CS – Take As Soon As Possible

We recommend that you take the Step 2 CS examination as early as possible rather than taking it after passing Step 1 and Step 2 CK because there is an annual rush to obtain test slots by December 31. If you take it earlier in the year, you will ensure a test date and have your Step 2 CS results in time for the National Residency Matching Program eligibility deadline in mid-February. Also, more programs are requiring ECFMG certification when you apply so you’ll want your CS results when you apply.

  •  Step 1: 4-6 months

Many IMGs who graduated fairly recently and have a strong command of English will need at least 4-6 months to prepare. We suggest that you divide your total study time into an initial 2/3 chunk and a final 1/3 chunk. The first is for your thorough review of each subject, with self-testing gradually increasing as you begin taking tests composed of items from ALL completed areas. The final 1/3 period is for more intense test-taking practice, where you take several blocks on mixed content under timed mode, then analyze to identify still weak topics and remediate these before moving on to the next self-testing session. Testing performance, not time spent, should dictate when you actually take the exam, because what counts is how well you can apply what you review to solving questions.

  •  Step 2 CK: 3-4 months

You should allow the first 2/3 of the reviewing time to Internal Medicine because it’s tested so heavily. Then allow days proportional to weak areas and divide the remainder pretty evenly across the other subjects. Once you finish reviewing Internal Med, you should begin self-testing with a question bank, adding in items into each testing session from any/all completed subjects as you move forward. The final third of your total review time should be dedicated for daily cycles of testing, analysis to identify weak topics, remediation of those weak topics, and then another cycle, repeating this until a few days before your exam date.

3. USCE – United States Clinical Experience
Starting now, make time for researching and requesting possible clinical opportunities. As you can see from this extremely informative ECFMG report, having USCE will increase your chances of residency interviews. Programs like to know that applicants have some sense of how medicine is practiced here in the US through externships, observerships, or medically related work experiences. There is no formal process to apply for non-rotation clinical experiences, so IMGs network with those who have found USCE and investigate on their own local hospitals and clinics. The experiences are usually unpaid and last from 1 to several months. Some IMGs pay commercial firms fees to find them US clinical opportunities. It can take months and many calls/emails before you find an opportunity. Read our previous post about finding USCE opportunities.

4. You may have long dreamed of practicing a specific specialty, but consider also where you have the best chance for interviews.  IMGs tend to land more residencies in Primary Care, as illustrated in this surprising article by Kevin Pho, MD.
5. The ECFMG timeline is summarized below starting in 2013:


June Determine eligibility.
US Residency Programs & Licensure Requirements Schedule.
If you haven’t scheduled your CS by now, do so immediately!
ERAS Tokens.
July Submit Supporting Documents. AAMC’s MyERAS opens.
August Track Supporting Documents. Finalize Application in MyERAS.
September NRMP Registration opens. Begin applying to Programs.
October MSPEs are released.
November Wait for interviews. Take Step 3 or find more USCE.
December NRMP Early Registration Deadline.


January NRMP Rank Order List Entry begins.
February Deadline for Match Registration and Submission of Rank Order List.
March Match Results Posted to NRMP Website.
SOAP Offer Rounds begin.
Match Day!

“Testing performance, not time spent, should dictate when you actually take the exam. #USMLE®”  (Tweet this quote!)

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All of the opinions expressed here are the author’s and his/hers alone, and do not represent necessarily those of Kaplan or its employees. 

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