What is a good score for USMLE Step 1?

It depends.

The current minimum passing score for Step 1 is 194. The score you might want to get, however, could be somewhere between 238 or as high as 251, depending on the competitiveness of your desired specialty. In 2020, four of the top-matched specialty tracks for U.S. MD graduates were internal medicine, family medicine, anesthesiology, and radiology-diagnostic. The Step 1 score range for those top-matched specialties was between 220 and 249, and the percentage of first-year residents matched in these ranges in.2020 was between 60 percent and 66 percent.

Specialty Step 1 score range Percentage of first-year residents matched in this range in 2020
Internal medicine 220–249 57.7%
Family medicine 200–229 63.2%
Anesthesiology 220–249 66.6%
Radiology-diagnostic 230–259 66.7%

Source: GME Track® as of Aug. 13, 2020, and NBME as of Sept. 21, 2020. Association of American Medical Colleges.

There are so many specialty options, and thus so many scores ranges you can aim for. Prior to starting your dedicated study time, make sure to do some research and figure out if your goal range matches the expectations of your chosen specialty.

Generally speaking, however, a USMLE® Step 1 score between 230 and 245 is considered good and a score between 245 and 255 is considered very good.

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Until the USMLE® Step 1 changes to pass/fail (earliest in January 2022) is officially in effect, your Step 1 score will carry its previous weight as a deciding factor on your residency application. Step 1 scores are currently used as an objective metric for cutoff into (or out of) certain specialties or programs. When Step 1 changes to pass/fail, this burden will likely shift to your Step 2 CK score, but Step 1 will continue to be important as the USMLE® is considering requiring a passing score on Step 1 to take Step 2. But until then… let’s stick to Step 1 scores.

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