MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Typically only one to three people per program are responsible for screening residency applications, and how they do it is important to understand. Since some programs may have up to 500 (or even 1,000) applications for only 100 interview slots, for example, it becomes the responsibility of those reviewing applications to decide who will be invited.I can tell you from experience that making these decisions is a daunting task. To decrease the work load, many program directors apply filters to applications to decrease the number of applications that must be reviewed to a reasonable quantity. What kinds of “filters” are used? There are many. Some filters may be applied so program directors only review applications who have a certain United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) step 1 score as a threshold, others may use a filter that only views applicants who have graduated within five years, while others may use no filters and manually review every application submitted. Some programs then assign “points” for everything: research, USMLE scores, and letters of recommendation; you are invited for an interview only when your “score” meets a minimum number. More often, however, a great deal of subjectivity goes into the decision to invite an applicant for an interview, whatever the grading system. Often, the screener’s personal interests and outlook play a part in the review of your application–especially if you are a “borderline” applicant. For example, if reviewer A always had to struggle with standardized tests yet managed to succeed while reviewer B always had board scores in the top 5th percentile, reviewer A is much more likely than reviewer B to screen in an application with lower-than-average board scores.
This blog entry is an excerpt from The Residency Interview (CHAPTER 1: THE INTERVIEW PROCESS).  Click her to read more.