Breaking It Down: Average 2020 USMLE® Step 2 Match Scores by Specialty

Sophie Moran - Dec 03, 2020

There’s no denying that the USMLE® Step 1 exam is regarded as the exam with the biggest impact on residency applications. With that said, it’s important to keep in mind the role that the Step 2 CK exam can play, too. 

If you scored slightly lower on Step 1 than you had anticipated, Step 2 CK is a good opportunity to get back to the level you want. Also, as Step 1 moves into pass/fail, it’s possible that Step 2 CK scores will begin to play a bigger role in the match process. 

Are you studying for the USMLE Step 2 exam? Be prepared with our Step 2 Study plan.



With this in mind, let’s take a look at the average 2020 USMLE Step 2 match scores by medical specialty. We’ve broken down the data from the National Residency Matching Program’s (NRMP) Charting Outcomes in the Match, 2020 report into the following tables, so you can quickly refer to any specialty. 



Let’s take a look at some key takeaways from the results. 

The medical specialties with the best chance of matching

In 2020, 50% of first-year positions offered during the match were in the primary care specialties.

According to the NRMP, internal medicine programs offered 8,697 positions, and family medicine programs offered 4,662 positions. In pediatrics, there were 2,684 positions offered. 

There’s no question that it takes an enormous amount of work, skill, and dedication to match into any medical specialty. With that said, it's the primary care specialties that offer students the best chance of matching. 

The medical specialties with the highest Step 2 CK scores

Looking at the data for US allopathic seniors, these are the medical specialties with the highest Step 2 CK match scores in 2020:

  1. Dermatology - 256
  2. Otolaryngology - 256
  3. Plastic surgery - 256
  4. Interventional radiology - 255
  5. Orthopedic surgery - 255

According to the NRMP, match results can “indicate the competitiveness of specialties, as measured by the percentage of positions filled overall and the percentage filled by senior students in US MD medical schools.” 

Medical specialties that offered more than 30 positions and filled these positions with over 80% of US MD seniors, indicating a high level of competition, include:

  • Integrated plastic surgery 
  • Medicine-pediatrics 
  • Neurological surgery 
  • Orthopedic surgery 
  • Otolaryngology 
  • Thoracic surgery 
  • Vascular surgery 

To see the average 2020 USMLE Step 1 match scores by medical specialty, check out our dedicated Step 1 match scores blog post

It’s important to remember that there’s so much more to becoming a great doctor than scoring high in exams. For starters, providing excellent patient care and having a great bedside manner are integral to being a good doctor. Whether your focus is currently on exams or excelling in the clinic, AMBOSS has you covered with our USMLE study tools and comprehensive clinical content


Chart data: **Data is from the National Residency Matching Program’s (NRMP) Charting Outcomes in the Match, 2020 report. The NRMP has no affiliation with AMBOSS. 

**Only those who gave consent to use their information in the NRMP research are included in the matched and unmatched data. 

**Independent applicants include the USMLE Step 2 average scores of students accepted to residency, including Osteopathic, US, and non-IMGs.


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