You Got Your Step 1 Score! What’s Next?

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Everything you need to know about interpreting your Step 1 score.

    About one month after taking the USMLE Step 1, you should receive your score. Congrats from the whole Cram Fighter team! You have successfully completed one of the most challenging academic feats out there. We thought it would be helpful to compile a list of commonly asked questions and our answers.

    I got my score! Did I do well enough?

    It depends on which specialty you have your sights on. The National Residency Matching Program released a report in September 2016 with correlations between Step 1 scores and matching with your preferred specialty. Check out Chart 6. The median score for students who matched with each specialty was above a 220.

    A score of above a 240 was the median score to be matched in Diagnostic Radiology, Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery, and Radio Oncology. A score above at or above a 250 was the median score for matching in Dermatology, Otolaryngology, and Plastic Surgery.

    How should I compare my COMLEX Level 1 score to my Step 1 score?

    What if they differ greatly? Many osteopathic students take the USMLE Step 1 in order to increase their options for residency. It can’t hurt to demonstrate your aptitude on a test that allopathic program directors are used to dealing with. However, as Med School Tutors points out, a COMLEX score of 600 or above may be enough to impress when implying for competitive specialties. This score gets you into the “600 club,” Med School Tutors explains. “If a traditionally allopathic program is familiar with the COMLEX, then a score “in the club” should buy you a ticket to at least an interview.”

    I didn’t get the score I wanted. What can I do?

    Unfortunately, it’s not possible to retake the USMLE Step 1 if you passed, according to’s FAQ. Retaking Step 1 is only possible if the exam score has expired (falls outside the specified time limit), or if you did not pass. Talk to your advisors and prepare to do better on Step 2. To see how Step 2 scores correlate with matching your preferred specialty, check out Chart 7 on the NRMR’s report.

    I didn’t pass Step 1. What now?

    Fortunately, you can retake Step 1 if you did not pass. For a step by step guide to bouncing back, check out Med School Tutors’ blog post on the subject. Although it is very unlikely you will match with competitive specialties, Med School Tutors writes that other specialties may see your perseverance as a positive.

    What other questions do you have around your Step 1 score? Write to us at, tweet us at @cramfighter, or ask us on our Facebook page ( and we’ll do our best to help you out.

    About the Author

    Erica Forrette is the former Director of Marketing at Cram Fighter.