How To Prepare For The Residency Match

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and probably the most stressful too! The moment we’ve all been waiting for after so many years, the MATCH! Understandably, this can be an extremely overwhelming and tedious process. For that reason, we’ve created an extensive list of what you need to know in order to best prepare for the Residency Match! 



Sites to Become Familiar With


The first step in the preparation process involves knowing what residency match sites to become familiar with. Here’s a list of the most vitally important sites you will need to know for The Match:



The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) is the organization that facilitates and finalizes the actual match. This is done after all of your documentation and application requirements have already been satisfied. On match day in March, this organization utilizes its extensive algorithm to place you in a suitable program and will then notify you that you’ve MATCHED! 





The Association of American Medical Colleges is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting medical students with integrating into the healthcare system. The AAMC organizes and offers the ERAS application site you need to submit and complete your residency application. This site is also where all official documents, such as letters of recommendation, will be submitted. 





The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates has a program of certification that assesses whether the graduates from certain schools are ready and eligible to enter graduate medical programs in the United States. This is mainly applicable to International Medical Graduates. 





The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is an organization dedicated to accrediting sponsored institutions and residency and fellowship programs. You can visit their website to learn more about program-specific requirements for various medical specialties. 



What is ERAS? 


The Electronic Residency Application Service, known as ERAS, functions to streamline the efficiency of the residency application process for the applicants, Designated Dean’s office, Letter of Recommendation authors and the Residency Program Directors. To gain access to ERAS go to to log in or register for an AAMC account. Note that you need a valid ERAS token to register, which is usually provided by your medical school. If the token is not provided, there will be a $155 USD nonrefundable fee for service. 





There are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify for The Match application. These requirements include:

  • Take and Pass STEP 1
  • Take and Pass STEP 2 before the end of December of the prior year.
  • Medical science pass, as indicated by your medical school
  • Clinical skills pass, as indicated by your medical school
  • Communication skills pass, as indicated by your medical school 
  • Letters of Recommendation (at least 4)
  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) provided by your medical school
  • Personal Statement 
  • Medical CV 
  • ECFMG certification received (for IMGs)
  • Take and Pass Occupational English Test/OET (for IMGs)


Timelines To Know 


In order to qualify for the application process, there are some strict and suggested deadlines you need to meet. Here are some upcoming dates to keep in mind:

  • September 15th: ERAS application opens
  • September 29th: Programs begin receiving applications; therefore ensure all letters of recommendation are received before this date and submit/certify your application to increase your chances of matching 
  • 3rd Monday of March at 11AM ET: Match week begins sending out notifications that you have matched; Post-match SOAP process also begins 
  • By Friday of the same week: NRMP will notify you of the specific program and location in which you have matched
  • June 30th: MATCH and SOAP closes for the season
  • July 1st: First day of Residency begins 

What is SOAP?


Although we hope that each and every one of you match right away into your ideal program, some applicants may have to achieve their match in a different manner. SOAP stands for Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, and is also referred to as Post-Match SOAP. This process gives eligible residency applicants a second chance to match into a program that has yet to be filled. During match week, SOAP candidates will receive a list of unfilled programs from the NRMP and can then choose to apply to them secondarily through ERAS. 



What Are The Pathways? 


The Pathways are a way to organize the circumstances with which you are applying to match. These pathways are directed to IMGs with the purpose of obtaining the ECFMG certification they need in order to be eligible for the match. There are 6 main pathways that differ based on variables such as the applicant’s status in medical school and passing USMLE exams on the first try. To learn more about the Pathways and determine which Pathway you would be eligible for, you can visit the ECFMG Requirements Page



Additional Considerations 


Now that we have gone through the general process of the residency match, let’s talk about a few incidentals and supplementary topics/resources that are also important to keep in mind.





Residency applications and interviews can cost anywhere between $3000-$7000 USD. This number can change depending on how many programs you apply to. The larger volume of programs you apply to, the higher the price will be. Another cost to consider is whether or not you will be expected to fly/drive to your interview, or if it will be conducted virtually. 



Program Selection 


You can select up to 300 programs on your ranking order list. Note that there are additional fees for every program you select above 100. How you rank each program can affect which programs are more likely to select you. This is also true for what specialties you have decided to select. For example, if a large number of the programs you have selected are for Family Medicine, the likelihood that you will receive a Family Medicine Residency is greater. However, if you have selected a wide variety of different types of specialties, this may reflect negatively upon your application and portray a lack of dedication to one specialty. 



MATCH Resources 


Most medical schools have some sort of a Residency Advising Program that they offer their students.  However, due to limited resources and a large quantity of applicants, the applicants can feel very alone in the process. To help reduce your stress load and increase your understanding, there are a few resources you can use to supplement your knowledge:

Now that we’ve talked about the extensive process of Match, it’s time for you to continue compiling your application requirements. We know how stressful Match season can be on each and every one of you, so take a few deep breaths and congratulate yourself for everything you’ve accomplished to be here! I hope you found this breakdown helpful and feel better equipped to take on this next BIG STEP in Medicine! If you’d like to receive more support, visit our Residency Application Advising page to book a one-on-one consultation with one of our Residency Advising Experts! We’re rooting for you!! 




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