Sunday 15 April 2012

Importance of the timing of USMLE step 2CS exam in increasing your match chances

I have often times talked about the planning the timing of USMLE exams in the past. The ECFMG recently released a bulletin saying that International medical graduates who plan to participate in the 2013 Main Residency Match (in March 2013) must take Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) by December 31, 2012. Though the cautionary statement is true for most parts, it tends to underestimate the degree of preparedness that an IMG applicant has to endure. Since we know that if your application is incomplete in any way during the peak interview season, the programs do not often have the patience to deal with such applicants. It is imperative that applicants for 2013 match pay special attention to dates mentioned below. Though this scenario is date specific, it may as well be true year after year, therefore generalizing: 
  1. If you do not take Step 2 CS by December 31, 201(n), your result will not be available in time to participate in the 201(n+1) Match. For this year, it will be if you do not take 2 CS by Dec 31, 2012, cannot participate in 2013 match.
  2. All programs require completion of step 1 and 2 cs/ck prior to residency. Lack or delay in score reports may cost you a precious interview.
  3. There is a difficulty getting vacant Step 2 CS test taking spots due to high demand - There are fixed number of centers and allocated number of applicants per day which makes it especially hard to find a date suitable for the CS exam. Delaying it further, worsens the delay in score reporting
  4. Also remember you cannot schedule exams between May 20 and June 16, 2012 this year. That is almost a month of backlog that will stress the system and the applicant in the later half of the year. 
  5. If you take the step 2 CS exam between November 4 through end of the year then the results will be reported by February 20, 2013. Match day is in March 2013 so that is cutting it close
  6.  As IMGs I recommend to not wait too long to get these basic things out of the way, and have every thing including your step 2 CS scores ready by September 15th so that your basic application is complete.
  7. Since results for 98%-99% of examinees who take the exam during the testing period are reported by the third Wednesday in a Reporting Period.
  • If you take the USMLE 2CS exam between Mar 25 through May 19, 2012 - Then score will be reported by July 11th in almost all cases<-- ideal for application on time.
  • If you take the USMLE 2CS exam June 17 through August 25, 2012 - Then score will be reported by October 17th, 2012 in almost all cases. <-- Delay by 1 month but still the next best time in relation to application.
  • Anything later than that can affect the chances of your interviews and thus succeeding in getting a residency


  1. Thanks for a wonderful post. May i know when will be an idle time to give the CK exam for 2013 Match.I will start my preparation only in the month of June. I understand i cant have my CK result by Sep 15. I am an IMG needing visa.

    Thanks again

    1. Results for computer-based examinations (Steps 1, 2 CK, and 3) are typically available within three to four weeks after your test date. So if you give this exam in June - you should have the result by July and latest by August. You will be good to apply by Sept 15th

  2. Hey there.. Quick question.. How much does step3 affect your interview chances? Recently several of my friends have told me that they had almost no interviews prior to step3 but once it was done they got a few calls?!!
    Would be really helpful if you could write an article on the same :)

    1. Great idea, thanks. Keep a look out for the same!

  3. Hello,
    Thank you for all your helpful comments.

    I am an IMG and have done my Step2 CK an CS exams. Step 1CK is still left. If I do it by the end of September, may I have a chance for 2013 match?


    1. You need to have you step 2CK score by Sept 15th to have your application complete AND ECFMG certified for the 2013 match. Given that it is less than a month from today, it may be difficult. Applying late or with partial requirements is not optimal for IMG applicants.


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