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Overall Research Conclusions

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Applicants with higher Step 1 scores have higher program entrance rates. In general, across applicant type and specialty, applicants with higher Step 1 scores and applicants who did not fail the Step 1 Exam on their first attempt entered programs at a higher rate. 

The likelihood of entering a residency program varies by specialty, Step 1 scores, and applicant type. On average, applicants applying to primary care specialties, those with higher Step 1 scores, and those who are U.S.-MD applicants (i.e., U.S.-MD fourth-year students and graduates) have a higher likelihood of entering a residency program compared with applicants applying to competitive specialties, those with lower Step 1 scores, and those who are U.S. IMG, non-U.S. IMG, and DO applicants. 

There is a point at which submitting one additional application results in a lower rate of return on the applicant’s likelihood of entering a residency program. This means that the value added by submitting one additional application is reduced relative to the value added by each application before reaching the point of diminishing returns. Note: This point of diminishing returns is an estimate and is not perfectly precise. 

The point of diminishing returns varies based on USMLE Step 1 scores. On average, applicants with higher USMLE Step 1 scores require fewer applications to reach the point of diminishing returns compared with applicants with lower USMLE Step 1 scores. 

The point of diminishing returns also varies by specialty and applicant type. On average, applicants to competitive specialties had to submit more applications to reach the point of diminishing returns compared with applicants to primary care specialties. 

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Supporting the Transition to Residency

The transition to residency is a time of critical importance in a medical student’s journey to become a physician. The AAMC is developing tools and information to better support students, their advisors, and program directors during this phase.

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Program Directors: Select Smart

Find PDWS software support, resources for you and your students, important dates and a timeline, as well as ERAS news and announcements. 

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