You Gotta Have Faith

  • Step 1: 215
  • Step 2CK: 236
  • Gap: 7-year Gap since graduation
  • Non-US IMG


When your a non-US IMG who has low board scores and a 7 year gap gotta work hard, make connections, and have faith!  Read more about this amazing success story:

Read more: You Gotta Have Faith

Category: Success

Be In The Right Place at The Right Time!!


Here's a success story about making your own luck by being in the right palce at the right time.  And you can do this too!

Read more: Be In The Right Place at The Right Time

Category: Success

Success Leaves Clues

Here is my collection of Success Stories that my students have shared with me after each Match.  Listen to their stories of overcoming great obsticles to reach their goals.  Look for the secrets to their success and think about how you can use their inspiration and advice to overcome your own challenges.  YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

I look forward to posting your story next year!

Warmest Wishes,


Category: Success

SOAP Smartly: Research Your Programs


Here's the success story of an IMG with an average Step 1 score and no US clinical experience who applied late to the match.... but was able to research her programs and apply smartly in the SOAP!



Read more: SOAP Smartly: Research Your Programs

Category: Success

A Story of Perseverance


  • IMG
  • 9-year gap
  • Mother of a young child
  • Low board scores (Step 1 203; Step 2CK 207, Step 3 196)
  • Didn't match 5 years ago!


Read more: A Story of Perseverance

Category: Success

Proving the Doubters Wrong

When your not a great test taker and everyone around you is doubting you and saying that you wont make it... Do you listen to the crowd or find your own way to be successful?  


Here's the success story of an Osteopathic Student (DO) who worked hard and made his own success!

Read more: Proving the Doubters Wrong

Category: Success

A SOAP Success Story

The SOAP has a dismal success rate for IMG's.  Here's a success story showing how the connections that you make along the way can rally help you when you need them the most!

Read more: SOAPing with Friends

Category: Success

Keep on Knocking on Doors till One Opens!


Here's the story of a young doctor from Venezuela who was struggling to make ends meet while studying at the same time! Sound familiar to anyone?!?!?!? Despite low board scores and a family health issue that limited where she could apply, she continued to knock on doors until she made it to her goal!!!


  • US IMG
  • STEP 1 : 219
  • STEP 2 : 225
  • Working and shadowing while studying for boards.
  • Family health issues that limited where she could apply.


Read more: Keep on Knocking on Doors till One Opens!

Category: Success

A Message to the Unmatched

First, Congratulations to all of you that matched this year!!!

I wanted to post this to let everyone that did not match this year to know, you still have lots of hope!!!   I was in this same situation last year, and I am not ashamed to share my journey.

I am a graduate of 2016 from an international medical school. I had always been a straight A student, like any other one of us that made it to medical school. But because of family issues, I struggled a bit during my second year in med school. The result was that I had a semester where I barely passed all course with C’s, which greatly dropped my GPA, took off a couple months to fly to my family’s country resulting in a half year gap, and I got a step 1 score of about 200 (at that time, the passing score was 188). I was shocked when I received the score, doubting life and doubting myself if I made a correct choice with a career in medicine. Thanks to my very supportive family and friends, I realized that if I just work hard enough, I still have a shot.

I returned to school with the right mindset this time, making sure to do all my studies and work on time. Making sure I work and study hard for every single rotation,  getting mostly A's  with an occasional B+ and sometimes also getting great comments,  Trying hard for step 2 CK (got ~240), volunteering and making connections, passing Step 2 CS on the first attempt, and getting good LORs from attending’s I worked with.

I applied for the 2016 Match, and failed miserably.      I was too stressed on interviews I believe, and did not make the best impression. I was in the middle of a tough rotation and could not take days off, I did not make the best travel plan, and missed interviews because of flight delays. I was so anxious, I probably also asked questions I shouldn’t have asked.   Result: I spent $15,000+ USD in application, travel expenses, hotels, flights, and so forth; received 7 interviews (2 of which were from rotation connections).   I did not match.    Of course, SOAP is always a disaster for any IMG, especially non-US IMG’s.

I was shocked and depressed; I was sad and worried. Thanks to supportive family and friends again, and like my personality, I will not be defeated. I stood back up again, analyzed my “case” and application, identified my weaknesses, found many ways of improving them. For example, I obtained several LORs from Chief Attending’s, both from Rotations and from School. I asked for many advises from lots of people with more experience than me. I followed tips and advises from others, I signed up to do a Post-Graduate course which will eventually lead to a Master’s degree for me. I applied for research positons, I sat for step 3 and received a 230-ish score, and when application came, I carefully researched each program, made an excel spreadsheet, wrote down each program’s details, called all the coordinators for every program multiple times, wrote down date and details of conversation for calling for next time, and marked and sent letters to the nice ones.

I received, in the end, over 30+ interview invites for the 2017 Match. As a non-US IMG, with several red flags and a step 1 of 200... That is not bad at all. Scheduled for as many as I could go, treated each interview as my only one, despite what I think was good or not good program. Carefully researched every person that I might see, read their published articles, marked down important things that I should cover, dressed nice and got there early. Worked very well this year, received many, many positive feedback interviews. Emailed and mailed Professional Thank You Letters (on watermarked, professional paper and envelope), mailed out thank you cards, and mailed out interest letters at time of ranking.

All hard-work has not been wasted! I matched this time! MATCH of 2017!    To one of my top choices in internal medicine. Thank you so much, my supportive family who has been paying for all my expenses, thank you so much for all my friends who have stood by me when I needed most. Thank you all for letting me know that I CAN DO IT!!!
And if I can, so CAN YOU!!! You have made it thus far, suffered through the hardest exams and the most tiresome rotations. You are a Medical Doctor, and you should be able to reap the fruit of your hard work. I know the hard, the bitter, and the pain that we have been through.  I know YOU can DO IT!!!

S. Z.  March 2017




Did you need a visa?

I did need a visa the first year that I appied, in the process between the first and second match, I receive my green card, although it's still a conditional card. I am pretty sure it probably helped me as well.


Did you only apply to IM?

I applied to both internal medicine and family medicine both last year and this year.

Applied to a total of 250 programs each year.

About half and half between family and internal programs.


OK.... we really want to know.... when you said "I probably asked questions I shouldn’t have asked." …. what questions did you ask on the interview that you probably shouldn't have?

A couple questions I shouldn't have asked the first year around were mostly stupid questions because I was really stressed about my low step one score. For example, I have a feeling one of my interviews the first year was going really well, with the PD. So at the end, when he asked me if you have any questions, I asked  "how would my low step one score affect my ranking in your program."   After I saw his expression, I thought.... I probably just bought myself a ticket to the do not rank list.


I wasn't asking very specific questions about the program, the first year around. I asked questions that I pulled off the Internet just for the sake of asking that. When the second year, I realized that you get very different response/affect from the interviewer have you asked a really good question about this program specifically.


There were a couple programs this year that I actually told me they really liked me after the interview. It did not seem like a generic letter. However, I'm not sure how much faith I should have in it still. Since I match in my number six program, and four of the top five that I ranked said they really like me, and one of them even wrote it on paper that they will rent me very high during interview and showed it to me.


What do you think was the most important factor in matching where you finally matched?

I can only presume why I'm matched at the current program. I believe small things does matter. I did not do too well in the interview of my matched program, because on the only interview I had with one of the attending/assistant PD there were lots of medical questions. I did not answer everything correctly, at least half the stuff I knew when I study for step three, but forgot at the spot. On my thank you letter, I had a extra sheet inserted with all the correct answers for the questions he asked during the interview. "And basically told him, I know it probably wouldn't matter now, but I did research on the correct answers. Thank you for teaching me." I got a very positive response from this action, I believe this may be a reason for what landed me a position this match.


Thank you so much Dr. Barone! And I totally missed the part where you say "you rock". That was your favorite quote for me from your lectures. It's people like you that keeps us going! Thank you, and please keep it up! We need you!

Category: Success

The Best Christmas Present Ever!

  • IMG
  • 8-year GAP from med school graduation
  • Step 1 – 209; Step 2 – 211; CS – Pass;
  • Step 3 – FAIL on first attempt; 207 on second attempt
  • Two years of not successfully matching
  • Mother of 3 young children


What are her chances of matching this year?

Read more: Best Christmas Present EVER!

Category: Success

Create a "Smart List"

  • IMG
  • Step 1 March 2014--- 203
  • CK Oct 2014--- 221
  • CS Jan 2015--- Pass
  • Step 3 Jun 2015 Fail—189

My Dream: Pediatric Residency

Can making a "smart list" of programs to apply to, increase your chance of getting matched at a pediatrics residency?

Read more: Create a Smart List

Category: Success

It's Possible

  • Non-US IMG
  • Step 1: 190
  • Step 2: 216
  • Step 3: 191
  • All first attempt
  • Didn't match last year (One interview)
  • Didn't match THIS year (One interview)

Can a non-US IMG with low scores get a Surgery position in California?..... Yes she can!!

Read more: It's Possible

Category: Success

Keep Going

  • Non-US IMG, graduated 2012.
  • Step 1:      191 (2013)
  • Step 2CK: 205 (2014)
  • Step 2CS: passed on 1st attempt (2014)
  • Step 3:      199 (2015)

Learn from this IMG's experience.  There are many clues to success in this story! 

Keep going and reach your dreams!:

Read more: Keep Going

Category: Success

Believe in Your Goal

  • Finished medical school in 1999!!!
  • Mother of 2 young children!
  • Failure on CS
  • Step 1 216
  • Step 2 235
  • Step 3 218
  • Didn't match last year!

What is the the chance of matching for an IMG mother of 2 with a 16 year gap from Medical School, a failure on CS, and low board scores?  ... 100% if you believe in your goal!!!

Read more: Believe in Your Goal

Category: Success

Be Obsessed With Your Dream


Here's some advice from a Caribbean Medical School Graduate who matched in Surgery in California!!!!

Read more: Be Obsessed With Your Dream

Category: Success

Good Things Come to those who Prepare!

  • Non-US IMG
  • Step 1: 253
  • Step 2: 216
  • Step 3: 191
  • 4 year Gap
  • Didn't match last year!

Can a Here's my success story:

Read more: Good Things Come to those who Prepare!

Category: Success

Not everyone is a great test taker.... Show Your Skills!

  • US IMG
  • Caribbean Medical School
  • Failure on Step 2
  • Low Step 1 Score 192
  • Low Step 2 Score 225


What do you do if you don't have the best scores and have a failure on your record? 

Find a way!!!!!! Check out this success story:

Read more: Show Your Skills

Category: Success

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:

Read more: Low Scores Doesn't Mean Life is Over!

Category: Success

Never Lose Confidence in Yourself

  • US IMG
  • Took an extra year to complete medical school due to failure and withdrawal
  • Below average board scores
  • Didn't match 2 years in a row.

Here's my success story:

Read more: Never Lose Confidence in Yourself

Category: Success

Personality Counts

Dr. Barone,

Here's my story... I hope this will be inspirational for many.   I got divorced the first year of school and my grades tanked. I dropped to the bottom half of the class. However, I was able to pull through and do well on level 1 of COMLEX (after your class and your colleagues at Kaplan) and pass USMLE without issue. Then came level 2, when they changed the passing standards. I was the group right after the regrade. My level 2 score was considerably lower, about 153 points lower and just above the new passing standard. I was pretty bummed and tried to explain it in all my interviews, however no one seemed to care, they only wanted to see that I passed. I was trying for Family Practice or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I then only ranked two programs in the Osteopathic match and didn't match. Tried again in the Allopathic Match with 13 on my list and matched without a scramble! Thanks for the lecture two years ago and the pep talks! Kept me positive! 

Read more: Personality Counts

Category: Success

Drastic Changes Lead to Success

  • Two failed attempts at Matching
  • IMG at a European medical school
  • 4 year gap
  • One failure on step 1
  • Low board scores

Read how making the right changes lead him to success on his third match attempt:


Read more: Drastic Changes Lead to Success

Category: Success

What does it take to Match in a DO Ophthalmology Program?


Inspirational story:  I am a student who matched in an Osteopathic Ophthalmology program after being told multiple steps along the way that I was probably not going to make it. My interest in Ophthalmology began very early in my undergraduate premedical career. Where I struggled with test scores... MCAT 26, a seriously low COMLEX1 483, and an improved but not fantastic COMLEX2 559.  I made up for in hard work and extracurricular experiences. I knew that I would not be content in pursuing another field of medicine until after I had given my all. I matched in my first attempt.

Read more: Advice for Matching in DO Ophthalmology

Category: Success

Be Positive

Dear Dr. Barone,

In one of the darkest moments of my life you gave me light. Your honesty in the whole match process was incredibly helpful and your words of encouragement were without a doubt invaluable. I wanted to share with you that I did retake CK and passed and had 3 interviews and just received the elating news of my match into a residency program. Thank you for your guidance, it is truly appreciated!!!!

Your help will never go forgotten, to you may seem lit a small bit of help, but surely it meant much more to me.  You are more than welcome to use my story on your website. I know when I was in my situation I felt really alone, if I can be any help to someone else who may be in the position I was in, I will do it. Thank you again for everything.  Barone Rocks!


Read more: Be Positive

Category: Success

Level Playing Field

  • Caribbean IMG
  • Low Board scores
  • One failure on Step 1
  • Two failures on Step 2

"Once u have the interview everyone is truly on the same playing field."

Read more: Level Playing Field

Category: Success

Never Lose Your Confidence

  • IMG
  • Caribbean School
  • 2-1/2 year gap
  • A Failure on Step 1
  • Two unsuccessful attempts at the Match!

Read more: Never Lose Your Confidence

Category: Success

Complete Focus on the Goal

  • IMG
  • mother of 4 children
  • 23 year gap

What does it take to match as an IMG who is a mother of 4 children and has a 23 year gap since medical school?

Read more: Complete Focus on the Goal

Category: Success

About to Move On

Here's a story from the 2014 match about a Canadian citizen, IMG from a Caribbean school, a failure on Step 1 who didn't match on the first attempt and got only one interview the second attempt.... and she was ready to move on to other jobs!!!!:

Read more: About to Move On

Category: Success

 All you need is ONE!


 What are the chances of matching with only a single interview for an IMG with low board scores, a second attempt on CK, a seven year gap, and two prior years of not matching?  Find out....

Read more: All you need is ONE!

Category: Success

I wanted to let you know I passed STEP 1. I wish I could tell you I got a 260, but I earned a 210. It's not great, I know, but it is important you know that everyday I wanted to quit, I would read the stories on your website. I would watch your videos, and they kept me inspired and motivated to keep trying… to keep studying. I thought almost daily of how I could be one of those stories of students who overcame adversity. Those stories helped me believe in myself and I wanted to share mine.

I know that growing up I had no business ever applying to Medical School. I struggled through high school and barely made it into college. I remember being rejected from a mediocre university four times, all my friends had been accepted into universities and I was stuck at community college for 2 and ½ years. When I finally was accepted into that university, after taking the MCATs twice; (getting scores of 9 and then later a 19) my advisor said to me, “you will never make it in med school because you will not be able to pass the tests, don’t waste your money.” Ironically, this advisor later became dean of admissions in a Medical school that will go un-named.  Back home when I told people I wanted to become a Doctor, I would almost always get a laugh or sarcastic remark in response.  But, I never gave up and I got into med school.  

My first NBME was a 160 I think, but I kept working and finally took my STEP 1. During the exam I freaked out, I felt like I was blowing it, and all I could think after my 3rd block was that everyone was right to think I couldn’t pass these tests. On my break I walked into the bathroom, splashed water on my face and remembered what you told my class; “Your destiny is greatness, don’t get trapped by dogma which is the result of other people´s thinking, never give up on your dream.” Had it not been for that, who knows what would have happened.

I thank anyone who shares there stories on your website and you also Dr. Barone. You’re a great inspiration to me and gave me the courage to believe in myself.

If you want to share that story on your site I would be honored. I hope it will help someone like the other stories helped me.

C. W.   August 14, 2014


Category: Success

Keep Improving Yourself

Here's a success story of an IMG who failed to match two years in a row but kept improving, got better LOR's, broaded his search and made it!

Read more: Keep Improving

Category: Success

Show Leadership

Here's the story of an IMG who failed to match 2 times and never gave up:

Read more: Show Leadership

Category: Success

Super-Mom Matches in California!

Here's another success story of an IMG, mother of 3 who made it to Cali:

Read more: Super-Mom PGY1

Category: Success

Successful SOAP

Here's one of the rare IMG success stories from the SOAP:

Read more: Successful SOAP

Category: Success

Off-Cycle Position

Here's a story about working hard and making the most of an opportunity!

Read more: "Off-Cycle" Positions

Category: Success

Great Advice on Perseverance

Here's a great story and great advice from an IMG that failed step 1, didn't match last year, and was "advised" by many to give up!  Find out what she did to make it to her dream!!!!

Read more: Great Advice on Perseverance

Category: Success

Working Hard

  • IMG
  • FIVE attempts on Step 1
  • TWO attempts on Step 2
  • TWO attempts on step 3
  • NO research or observership experience

If you are an IMG with FIVE attempts on Step 1, TWO attempts on Step 2, and TWO attempts on step 3 with NO research or observership experience....  would you give up on getting a residency? 

Read more: Working Hard

Category: Success

Overcoming Fear

There are so many obsticals for an IMG.  Knowing that others have made it, lets you know that you can do it as well.  Here's an inspirational story of an IMG who prematched despite all odds:

Read more: Overcoming Fear

Category: Success

Multiple Attempts at Step 1 and 2

Here's an inspirational story about not letting the boards stop you!

Can a Caribbean IMG with multiple attempts on step 1 and 2 and an unsuccesful match attempt make it to residency in the States?

Read more: Multiple Attempts at Step 1 and 2

Category: Success

Matched on Second Attempt

Here's a story about getting rejected by the match and not stopping!  

Let's hear from an IMG who was 6 years out from graduation, needed a visa, and was rejected once --> and overcame the odds and made it!:

Read more: Matched on Second Attempt

Category: Success

DO with a "Miss" on Step 1

Here's the story of osteopathic student who overcame a failure on Step 1 Comlex and the loss of a loved one:  

"Never let your scores stop you from acheiving your dreams!" - Dr. Barone


Read more: D.O. with a miss on Step 1

Category: Success

PGY-1 "Mom"

Here's an inspirational story of a mother of 2  who refused to give up on her dreams!

She is also an IMG13 years from medical school graduation!

Read more: PGY1 Mom

Category: Success

Switching Residencies

Here's an inspirational story that shows it's never to late to find the right specialty!

Read more: Switching Residencies

Category: Success

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