While the USMLE program does not disclose how the three-digit score is calculated, Step 1 /2CK/ 3 scores theoretically range from 1 to 300, most examinees score in the range of 140 to 260, the passing score is 194 and the mean and standard deviation are approximately 229 and 20, respectively.

Step 1 194
Step 2 CK 209
Step 3 196

The current minimum passing scores are as follows:

USMLE Step 1 Scores

The USMLE step 1 is the initial step of your journey. So let’s break down the scores into 4 parts. Although the scores set as boundaries may seem a bit arbitrary, they give a starting place for the explanation.

  • Passing-210: The USMLE scores that fall in this category are considered to be very low. Or call it the USMLE Step 1 passing score. And needless to say, passing is not enough. But if you score low in this step, you still have got chance to improve in the other steps.
  • 210-230: Not a very good score, but you can call it a range of OK to fine. However, you may face difficulties in getting a good specialty if your USMLE scores lie at the lower end of this boundary.
  • 230-240: This can be called as a good range. Students with a score in this range are likely to get the doors open for all the specialties.
  • 240-250: Needless to say, these USMLE scores are what can be considered to be very good in Step 1. Moreover, these scores leave a positive impact on the directors of the USMLE program. Although the score is considered to be very good, you need to maintain this in the rest of the tests too as it alone cannot help you in ensuring a good specialty.
  • 250 or more: Such scores are considered to be excellent and obviously enable you to choose among the best specialties. Furthermore, these USMLE scores can prove to be a significant factor for registering in the most prestigious training programs.

USMLE Step 2 Scores

The concept of the previously mentioned score boundaries and their impact on your specialty can be applied to the USMLE Step 2 CK as well. To further add to your information, the score of the USMLE Step 2 depends more on Step 2 CK which makes it more important. So if you had confronted an unlucky test day or unlucky test or any failure in preparations during USMLE Step 1, here comes the golden opportunity in the disguise of USMLE Step 2 CK which can take you a long way in countering the disappointed USMLE scores of Step 1. Moreover, it further holds the belief that Step 2 CK proves to be a better sign of your abilities if compared to Step 1. So even if you miss the opportunity of Step 1, never let go of the Opportunity of Step 2 CK and gain an outstanding and a solid score to improve your application.

While going for a medical specialty, one must keep in mind the competitiveness of the various specialties. Below you can see the major medical specialties being divided into three tiers namely hard, moderate and easy.


  • Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • General Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Urology
  • Radiology
  • Radiation Oncology


  • Anesthesiology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medicine/Pediatrics (combined)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry

While you choose a specialty during your medical years, you should possess a very strong academic profile. A strong academic profile means your performance shouldn’t be just good, but very good in the USMLE tests. The USMLE tests are break down into 3 different components namely the Step 1, Step 2 (CK&CS) and Step 3. If you want to get into a good and competitive specialty, you will need to maintain a good performance in all these steps. However, if you fail to give an up to mark performance in any one of the tests, there are still chances to score very well in the rest of the steps and recover your overall USMLE scores.


The interview procedure is undoubtedly one of the crucial parts in deciding your field of specializations. Consider your residency application process in two steps – the first one to be the written part where you will be presenting your CV, Score card, university grades, etc. These papers tell a lot about you and raise few questions in the minds of interviewer too. The main purpose of the interviewer is to observe your answers to the questions, listen to you, maintain gaze with you, shake hands with you, etc. this may not be pertinent to your subjects but tell a lot more than words can tell.

So this is why the interview is considered to be a very crucial process and may take you to heights that grades and USMLE score report alone wouldn’t be able to. The definition of a good interview is where you display your key qualities like interest, confidence, asking insight questions, etc.

Other things to consider are your researches, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, etc. You may consider them as some of the supportive areas. In case if the other areas seem to be similar, these aspects come forth to make a distinction among them. Take an example of the researches, the candidates who wish to go for specialties like Radiology, Plastic Surgery, etc. must have a background related to researches as those who possess such qualities are valued more than the rest.


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