Low Scores Doesn't Mean "Life is Over!"

  • Mother of 2
  • US IMG
  • Panic/Vomiting on Step 1
  • Low Step Scores

I'm a US IMG that thought life was over after my 196 in step 1.

Here is my success story:

In Sept 2012, I started Kaplan for step 1. I got pregnant with my 2nd child in November and I was hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum and had a TIA(lasted 20mins no residual deficit). Needless to say I was done for a bit. So in July of 2013, my son was born and I dedicated time to him. Started back studying for step 1 in Jan of 2014. Paid for and scheduled all my exams and it went from there. Lots of up and downs and wanting to give up.

I thought life was over after my 196 in step 1.   I actually wished I had failed instead. I did Kaplan and had great NBMEs but freaked out and was vomiting in the exam room, they gave me a bin. The rest of the exams went fine emotionally as reflected by the scores.

Step1:      196    09/2014

Step2CK: 222    02/2015

Step2CS: PASS 05/2015

Step3:      220    10/2015 

I got 6 Interviews and I matched!!!

Lots of up and downs and wanting to give up. The pearls I can give are these:

  1. Never give up.  I missed recitals, games, “hanging out”, no superbowl parties etc....

  2. Get as much USCE as possible, I did rotations while doing CK and all through step 3.

  3. As an IMG, Do step 3. Regardless of your time out of med school or if you aced the

    steps. Do step 3. Don’t believe the line that Step 3 doesn’t matter. Data does not lie.

    ESPECIALLY if you are a non-US IMG.

  4. Research your programs. If you apply to places you don’t qualify for is as bad as not

    doing an instrument count and closing a patient. LOOK AT THE NRMP data. Look at the number of spots in a program and the average number of applicants and the profile of the current residents. Do you fit in? If not move on. I researched for 2 months, myself, I paid matcharesident but it turned out not to work, I contacted a few programs from their list and didn’t even qualify for some! I got a refund. Did it myself. Programs get between 800 to ­1200 applications per cycle. Trust yourself to do it right.

  5. Learn how to interview. Learn how to sell yourself without being arrogant. Take a course if you have to. If you had 14 or 8 interviews and didn’t match it means you have sold yourself on paper and failed to impress as a person.

  6. Scores are NOT everything. I had only UNIVERSITY interviews with a 196. NO special help. I had amazing clinical experience and lots of volunteer experience in the field I applied to. I even made the Board of Directors of prominent National Non­Profit. Scores get your application looked at. No one even asked me about my low score.

  7. Do it right one time, don’t make a half blanked attempt to match. Look at the number of IVs that candidates get the second time around, always declines, ask yourself, what about me/my experience has changed between last match and this one? Pedal to metal and do everything you can to get it right, don’t “try to match and see what happens” especially if you plan to apply to programs that tossed your application in the garbage the first time. Think like the program. Why do I want to rank this person?

  8. Reach out and use all your resources. ASK. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Your mentors and peers are there for you always. And SHARE, if you have information share it. Some medical students think they lose something by sharing information. They are ones that don’t match. You can’t suck as person and expect to get by in life.

L.R. March 17, 2016


#19 Lisa 2016-06-15 05:20
@hasin so the NRMP pdf is the best way to tell if a program is IMG friendly or not; and go to the website and look at the ratio of each resident year, it gives you a good indicator of how a program makes up each class.
#18 hasin 2016-06-09 04:06
@LISA what should we ask over the phone to understand is that program is IMG friendly or not?
#17 hasin 2016-06-09 04:05
@ LISA , what should we ask or write in the emails for the feedback about the programs?
#16 Lisa 2016-03-20 02:32
I did rotations, from 2014 all the way to November 2015. Show a a dedication to whichever field you want. I volunteered a LOT too. I met our representative, even met Hilary Clinton lol lol, I gave all of myself in pursuit of my dream.
#15 Lisa 2016-03-20 02:29
Being a Mom of two and doing all three steps was climbing mount Everest. I couldn't have done it without my husband. He was there every step of the way. I would take my pdf MTB to tennis games, read wrong question explanations while sitting in the car waiting to do school pick-ups. Cook dinner, put them to bed and then get up at 4am and study until 7am and do breakfast. My hour at the gym was spend watching Barone's youtube videos while running. It was not easy, but it wasn't that hard either. I wanted it that badly, how badly do you want it?
#14 Sulafa E 2016-03-18 22:20
Thanks for sharing
#13 Lexie 2016-03-18 20:01
Congrats Lisa! So inspirational. I am an IMG non US with 192 in step 1, pass in CS and a fail in CK. I honestly felt my journey has ended and my life is doomed. But you give me inspiration. I think I can do it now. I just need to push myself harder and overcome my failures. Thanks a lot for the amazing inspiration.
#12 Tazz 2016-03-18 13:38
After reading the article,a little hope got into me.I too have scored a 196 and honestly, there is a small part of me which refused to believe that i can move forward.Thanks for rekindling the hope inside of me although i do know that the road ahead isnt easy.
There is although one doubt i would like to ask u.Which department and program did u match in? How many obsies would u recommend?
#11 Yessika 2016-03-18 11:11
:lol: This will be my history next year.Congrats, and thank you for sharing because many people say that is almost imposible when you have babies, this history give to me optimism and make me strong. 8)
#10 Saliena K 2016-03-18 01:38
There is hope after all
Category: Success

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