average step 1 score by school

Average Step 1 Score By School (Rankings Revealed)

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Do you have a specialty of interest in mind yet you’re not sure if you fit? The average Step 1 score by school somehow serves as a sorting hat to determine whether a student fits in that particular specialty in residency or not.

High Step 1 scores match with top-ranking or the most competitive areas. Average scores perhaps are accepted in well-known reputable ones. Low scores, well I’m not so sure—may be accepted in the least competitive or in which the admissions committee is not that meticulous when it comes to numbers.

In this post, I will give you the average Step 1 score by school to give you an idea of the scores that you should aim for (if you haven’t taken the exam yet) your target specialty or if you are looking for a specialty where you would most likely be accepted given your current Step 1 score.

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What Is The Average Step 1 Score?

what is the average step 1 score

In 2018, the average Step 1 score among first takers from US/Canadian medical school is 230. You may check below the average step 1 score for the past 3 years.


Table 1. Average Step 1 Scores of US/Canadian Step 1 Takers From 2016-2018

As you would observe, the average Step 1 score increases per year. This data suggests that the increase in mean scores is due to the perceived competition of students in getting accepted and the perceived difficulty of the exam.

Average Step 1 Score By School

what is the average step 1 score by school

Here are the average Step 1 scores by school arranged according to the 2021 USNWR best medical school rankings. Note that the top 50 medical school’s Step 1 scores are retrieved from the 2018 data.

RankSchoolStep 1
1Harvard University245
2Johns Hopkins University235
3University of Pennsylvania (Perelman)244
4New York University (Grossman)241
4Stanford University243
6Columbia University239
6Mayo Clinic School of Medicine245
6University of California—Los Angeles (Geffen)230
6University of California—San Francisco233
6Washington University in St. Louis244
11Cornell University (Weill)241
12Duke University241
13University of Washington224
14University of Pittsburgh236
15University of Michigan233
15Yale University240
17University of Chicago240
18Northwestern University239
18Vanderbilt University244
20Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai237
21University of California—San Diego232
22Baylor College of Medicine244
23University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill224
24Case Western Reserve University239
24Emory University232
26University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center236
27University of Wisconsin—Madison226
28Oregon Health and Science University226
29Boston University237
29University of Virginia234
31University of Alabama—Birmingham222
31University of Colorado228
31University of Southern California235
34Ohio State University234
34University of Iowa (Carver)n/a
34University of Marylandn/a
34University of Rochester232
38Brown University (Alpert)233
38University of Utah224
40Albert Einstein College of Medicine234
40University of California—Davis220
40University of Florida228
40University of Minnesota231
44Georgetown University228
44University of California—Irvine236
44University of Cincinnati238
47Indiana University—Indianapolis233
47University of Massachusetts—Worcester231
47University of South Florida226
50Dartmouth College (Geisel)227
50University of Miami (Miller)232

Table 2. Average Step 1 Score of The Top 50 Medical Schools in The U.S.

Among the top 50 ranked schools by USNWR, the University of California—Davis garnered the lowest average Step 1 score. However, despite this fact, the university has been known for its excellent reputation in the field of research.

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What Is The Average Step 1 Score For Specialties?

average step 1 score by specialty

According to AAMC, here are the average step 1 score by specialty. With this, you could have an idea of what score to aim for if you already have a particular specialty in mind. Check if yours fit your ideal specialty.

Child Neurology227.3228.6
Emergency Medicine232.5231.1
Family Medicine216.7215.9
Internal Medicine (Preliminary)236.2235.4
Internal Medicine (Categorical)231.8230.4
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics231.4234
Neurological Surgery243.3243.7
Obstetrics and Gynecology227.9228.4
Orthopedic Surgery245.5246.2
Pathology: Anatomic and Clinical227.3227.5
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation223.8224.9
Plastic Surgery Integrated246.1246.5
Surgery (General)232233
Thoracic Surgery: Integrated242.3244.1
Vascular Surgery: Integrated235.2237.6

Table 3. Average Step 1 Scores By Specialty

Here’s also a link to my previous post on the average Step 1 score.

Learn more about how to achieve your target Step 1 score by watching this video: USMLE Step 1 Tips and Advice [How To Get 250+]

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FAQs About The Average Step 1 Scores

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What Is Considered A Good USMLE Step 1 Score?

Scores ranging from 230 to 245 is considered good. If you are going to check the average score per specialty and school, you will notice that scores fall on this particular range. Thus, students who managed to get scores from 230 to 245 are most likely to be accepted in any specialty that they prefer especially if they couple it up with consistent good grades in Step 2 and in the clinicals.

What Is The Highest USMLE Step 1 Score Ever?

In theory, 300 is the highest or perfect score in the USMLE Step 1. But to date, I haven’t known anyone in history who had zero mistakes in Step 1. So far, the highest score I’ve heard was 282.

What Percentile Is 250 On Step 1?

The percentile of 250 on Step 1 is 84. Here is a norm table from USMLE that shows the percentile rank of medical students from US/Canadian medical schools who took the exam from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018 and scored lower than a given USMLE score.

For example, if you scored 235, that means you are at the 56th percentile. It denotes that 56% of Step 1 first-takers from the US/Canadian medical school in the three-year cohort scored lower than 235.

USMLE ScoreStep 1 Percentile Rank
155 and below0

Table 4. Equivalent Step 1 Score and Percentile Rank

[Free Download] Want to have everything you need to be a top student on your medical journey? Get FREE access to our Med School Success Handbook to get 60+ tips including the best study, time management, mindset tips you need to be a top student. Download it here. 

Is Step 1 Harder Than MCAT?

This is a debate over the internet. Some say it’s Step 1, but there are verdicts saying that MCAT is harder. However, the two exams are incomparable since they test different skillsets.

MCAT’s coverage is much wider. It covers even pre-med related sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, etc.  The topics are so broad that you might not be able to review some. Nonetheless, you could still answer the section narrating and analysis of passages.

As for Step 1, some find it harder due to the enormous information that you need to digest. But what’s good is that you’re already familiar with the material. It’s a matter of application of medical concepts you learned in the classroom and some outside resources. Of course, if you were able to study well, you will find the exam much easier.

Your Step 1 score matters in your upcoming residency matching. I hope that by knowing the average step 1 score by school and specialty, it will give you the motivation to work harder to achieve your target Step 1 score.

Are you about to take Step 1? Don’t forget to check my blog post on Step 1 Test Day Tips You Need To Know About!

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

2. The Med School BlueprintJoin the hundreds of students who have used our A-Z blueprint and playbook for EVERY phase of the medical journey so you can start to see grades like these. 

3. Med Ignite Study ProgramGet personalized help to create the perfect study system for yourself so you can see better grades ASAP on your medical journey & see results like these. 

4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

At this point, if you are looking for tips on how to achieve your ideal Step 1 score, you may check my previous articles on tips and tricks and other study recommendations.

Until next time my friend…

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