With the number of med students increasing faster than the number of residency positions, students are becoming more and more concerned about their USMLE Step scores to increase their odds of getting into a comparative specialty or residency program. I quite frequently hear requests from pre-med students asking about the average USMLE scores at different universities, with the idea that this can be used to compare the quality of each schools pre-clinical education. I have always cautioned against using this metric, and now I finally have at least some proof.

Study investigators from McMaster university (Yes, its a Canadian study) decided to see if their interview process was able to select students who could score higher on their board exams the MCCQE (which is similar to our USMLE step 1). From their group of 1071 students they were able to identify students that passed their Multiple-Mini-Interview system. They then followed these students and tracked their board scores at different universities. Overall they found that people who passed the MMI interview did statistically significantly better than students that didn't. They also found that it didn't matter what school these higher achieving students went to.

Although this was not the direct outcome of the study it does offer some evidence that points towards what I always thought. Competitive high achieving students are going to score highly no matter where they go, and less competitive students will probably do worse, no matter what great school they go too.

Keep this in mind next time someone tries to argue that one school is "better" than another because their average step scores are higher. Your ability to score highly on step 1 is much more dependent on your own study habits, work ethic and test taking, than what university you go to.

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