You have questions…we have answers!



Question: Do I need to take the USMLE Step 1 and/or 2 exams?
It depends! There are many variables including what your chosen specialty is, whether you will apply for strictly Texas programs (or a mix of in-state and out-of-state programs), if you are applying to AOA and / or ACGME
programs, your performance on COMLEX 1, etc.

During your individual residency counseling session, we will discuss whether or not the USMLE Step 1 and / or 2 exams are applicable in your particular situation. It’s not the same for everyone! Please consult with the Office of Career Development first…prior to making such an important decision. We want to ensure you’re on the right track!

Question: How can I prepare well for the Match?
One of the most important components of your academic record utilized by residency programs to prioritize applicants leading up to the Match are your COMLEX and / or USMLE scores. Many programs use these scores as their first cut-off point, meaning that if your scores do not meet their screening threshold, they may never see the rest of your application. These exams are critically important. In particular, failures on one or more of these exams can create hurdles that are difficult to overcome.

Fortunately, we do have some strategy and predictors to assist you in making decisions about how / when / if…

1) Prepare adequately for ALL exams you will take, because the application service contracts require you to disclose all your scores!

2) Take the COMSAE and use that information to inform your strategy!

3)  Don’t take USMLE unless you really need it. Obviously, students interested primarily or exclusively in AOA accredited programs will not need it. Most students interested in primary care specialties will not need it, even if you are looking at ACGME programs. Some of the most competitive ACGME primary care programs will still require USMLE, so have an idea of your top 10 programs of interest and find out. Check program websites or call program coordinators to find out. The TCOM Career Development Office can tell you which programs we’ve had students match into without USMLE scores.

4) Students in the bottom 15% of the class and those who have had to remediate >1 course or have repeated a year should probably not take USMLE. For those who are determined to do so, I suggest…

-Take the COMSAE exam, which can be used to predict your likelihood of passing. If you score below 380 on COMSAE, you are at HIGH RISK to fail USMLE. DON’T TAKE IT!

-You could also delay taking USMLE until your COMLEX 1 score is available. If you score below 430 on COMLEX 1, you are at HIGH RISK to fail USMLE. DON’T TAKE IT!

5) You need PASSING COMLEX 2 PE and COMLEX 2 CS scores ideally for the interview season, but definitely no later than the Rank Order List deadlines. Take them as early as you feel you can be prepared. If you had difficulty with COMLEX 1, bear that in mind and be sure you have time to re-take COMLEX 2 if needed. Work with the CAP Office to improve your performance!

6) Take advantage of the review / prep opportunities for COMLEX 2 PE offered through Medical Education.  Contact,Laura Hopkins, Senior Administrative Coordinator, Medical Education.

ERAS/Application/Interview Questions

Question: I failed COMLEX (or USMLE)… do I have to release those scores in ERAS?
The participation agreement you sign with ERAS requires you to release your USMLE and COMLEX transcripts to ACGME accredited programs. Generally speaking, you have nothing to gain by attempting to conceal parts of your academic record. It is better to just deal with it.

ERAS does not permit the release of USMLE transcripts to AOA accredited programs, however the same response as above applies for COMLEX.

Question: What if I want to cancel an interview?
If you want/need to cancel a residency interview, you should give a minimum of two weeks notice but the longer in advance, the better. This allows the program the opportunity to extend an interview invitation to another applicant on their wait list.

Contact the program coordinator by phone or email, let them know that your plans have changed (or that a conflict has developed, if that is the case) and that you will need to cancel your interview. Thank them for their time and apologize for the inconvenience. If you speak with the coordinator by phone, follow up with an email to close the loop. Withdraw your application from the program in ERAS.

Question: What if I have all the interviews I want/need and programs are still calling?
Withdraw outstanding applications in ERAS.

Question: can/should I indicate my interest to programs I plan to rank / rank highly?
First of all, this is what the NRMP says on the topic in Applicant FAQs:

During my interview, the program director asked me about other programs to which I had applied and how I plan to rank them. Am I obligated to provide that information?

No.  Section 6.0 of the Match Participation Agreement prohibits programs from requiring applicants to reveal the names or identities of programs to which they have or may apply and from requesting any information about how you plan to rank programs.  Any program that requires an applicant to disclose such information is in violation of NRMP policy and will be investigated by the NRMP.

Additionally, this info comes from the Match Communication Code of Conduct:

Discouraging unnecessary post-interview communication Program directors shall not solicit or require post-interview communication from applicants, nor shall program directors engage in post-interview communication that is disingenuous for the purpose of influencing applicants’ ranking preferences.

Also, review Section 6.0 in the Match Participation Agreement.  Formatting didn’t permit me to copy/paste.

All that said, it is common (and allowed) for applicants to VOLUNTEER such information.  Often this happens in the “thank you” note after your interview.  If you plan to rank a program #1, it’s fine to say so.  It might even be helpful.  Just don’t lie about it and say the same to multiple programs.  For programs in your top 5, you might indicate a plan to “rank highly”.  For others lower on your list, you may just wish to say that you plan to “rank” the program or make no
comment about your ranking intentions.

If you did not include that information in your original thank you note and wish to make further contact with the program, I suggest a brief email or handwritten note to no more than your top 5 choices, if at all.  Don’t expect the PDs to respond as many are very sensitive to potential match violations.


Question: In the criminal background section, do I have to disclose events that have been “expunged” from my record?
YES. Plain and simple.

Texas Medical Board (and many other state medical boards, if you match out of TX) will see absolutely everything you have ever been arrested for or charged with, regardless of the disposition. They have the highest level of clearance for background checks.

Generally speaking, most things you must disclose are not going to create undue hardship in obtaining your PIT, AS LONG AS YOU DISCLOSE THEM IN THE BEGINNING. TMB takes anything that might be construed as an attempt to conceal as a breach of professionalism, and that they take VERY SERIOUSLY. Don’t even think about it.

Make an appointment to discuss the details of your situation and obtain additional advice from Dr. Nash. It is best to do this early in the fourth year in the event you have to collect additional documents or complete special steps that may take additional time.

Question: I had an adverse academic action/event during medical school and have to submit supplemental Form U.  Who do I contact to send the additional required documents from TCOM?
Submit your request to the Registrar’s Office via

Lisa R. Nash, DO, MS-HPEd,
Dean – Educational Programs

This page was last modified on February 26, 2015