The Successful Match


10 Steps to a Successful Neurology Residency Match

"Although it varies from year-to-year, neurology is typically a competitive residency," writes the American Academy of Neurology. "Each year we receive almost 600 applications, and from these we select 64 (~10%) for interviews," writes the University of Miami Department of Neurology.

Follow Our 10-Step Plan for Success Below

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Step 1: Review Neurology Residency Match Data

U.S seniors are readily able to match into neurology. In the 2010 NRMP Match, only 3% of U.S. seniors who applied to the field went unmatched. However, top-tier university programs are quite competitive.

Osteopathic applicants may match into allopathic or osteopathic neurology residency programs. In 2010, approximately 50 osteopathic applicants matched into an allopathic program. There are seven osteopathic neurology residency programs.

In 2010, nearly 200 international medical graduates matched into the specialty. However, many fail to match. In the 2010 Match, 38.4% of independent applicants went unmatched (IMGs and osteopathic students are considered independent applicants).

According to the AMA and AAMC, there are over 1,800 residents training in 132 ACGME-accredited neurology residency programs. Fifty-seven percent are USMDs, 36% are international medical graduates, and 7% are osteopathic graduates.


Step 2: Understand the Selection Criteria Which Matter to Neurology Residency Program Directors

To maximize your chances of matching with a neurology residency program, you must become well informed as early as possible. In particular, you need to know the criteria residency programs use to select residents. We recommend beginning with the following resources:

2012 NRMP Program Director Survey
Selection Criteria for Residency: Results of a National Program Directors Survey by Dr. Marianne Green

We interviewed Dr. Marianne Green, lead author of the above study, in an article written for the Student Doctor Network. You'll find this Q & A very informative.


Step 3: Develop Your Strategy for Success

To develop a strategy for success, use our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match. It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association of American Medical Colleges, America Medical Women's Association, and numerous allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. AMSA wrote the book "provides the medical student reader with detailed preparation for the matching process."

Read the First Chapter

Read Reviews of the Book

Learn More About the Book

The book can be purchased at Amazon or through our online store.


Step 4: Make the Most of Your Preclinical Years

The preclinical years of medical school are important for students considering a career in neurology. "As you begin planning your career (trust us—this process will sneak up on you sooner than you think), you'll have to employ a whole host of resources to arrive at your goal (i.e., residency!)," writes the American Academy of Neurology. 

Neurology residency programs also look for involvement in extracurricular activities, community service, leadership, and research.
The preclinical years are an excellent time to build these credentials. In our book, Success in Medical School: Insider Advice for the Preclinical Years, we provide you with a detailed blueprint on how to stand out in these areas as it relates to the specialty of neurology. We also discuss in detail how to initiate and cultivate a relationship with a mentor who can serve as a strong advocate in the future.

Read the First Chapter

The book can be purchased at Amazon
or through our online store.


Step 5: Evaluate Your Chances for Match Success After Taking the USMLE Step 1 Exam

The USMLE is an important factor in the neurology residency selection process. In 2011, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 225. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 212.

Applicants with lower USMLE scores need to strengthen their credentials in as many areas as possible, and work closely with an advisor to develop a strategy for match success. Our E-document, The Successful Match: Neurology Supplement, provides information on how programs use the USMLE in their decision-making process. Inside, you will find the answers to the following questions:

What is considered a low USMLE or COMLEX score?
When should you take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam?
Should osteopathic applicants take the USMLE?
Should you do an away elective?
How can students shine during the away elective?
Whom should you target for letters of recommendation?
•What are the benefits of research? Is it necessary?
How can applicants publish sooner rather than later

AND actual quotes from 20 academic and private neurologists about the reasons that led them to enter the field - incredibly helpful in developing the personal statement and preparing for the residency interview.

We also combine a thorough search of the literature with inside information from program directors to give you powerful information.This will help you make sound decisions in the year you have left before you apply. You will also avoid common mistakes made by unsuccessful applicants.


Some applicants are concerned about their chances of matching in the specialty or securing a position in highly competitive residency programs. If you have such concerns, consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai. Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation and school.


"I signed up and utilized the Strategy for Success Session during May 2013, two months before ERAS opened up so that I would be able to hit the ground running with the application process.

Dr. Desai requested all of my medical school information and my planned specialty so that he could have the most complete knowledge of working with me to help me attain residency.

After going through my materials I provided him, we used the session to plan out the next few months in all its aspects and what would make me a more desirable candidate to program directors.

I followed the plan we made and matched into the  residency of my choice."

Learn More About Our Strategy for Success Session


Step 6: Strive for Success During Core Clerkships

Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to neurology residency programs. In a recent NRMP survey of neurology residency program directors, 69% cited "grades in required clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview.

We have developed a powerful resource to help you excel in core clerkships.

AMSA wrote that our book, Success on the Wards, "offers the preclinical reader insight and an insider's view of what you will face during your clinical years of medical school, and that will allow you to really perform well. It focuses on the details, and those details will be the ones that set you apart from other medical students." (AMSA Review in The New Physician).

Read Q & A with the Book's Authors

Read the First Chapter

Learn About the Importance of Oral Communication Skills During Clerkships

Learn more about our book

The book can be purchased at Amazon or through our online store.
Neurology Observerships for International Medical Graduates

"For international medical graduates, getting clinical experience and letters of recommendation in the United States can mean the difference between becoming a practicing physician or not."

-American Medical News, a publication of the American Medical Association (March 26, 2007)

See Our List of Observership Opportunities 


Introducing a Powerful Resource for Your
Core Clerkships

The Clinician's Guide to Laboratory Medicine: Pocket is the only book that walks you from abnormal lab test to diagnosis through a series of steps.

Step 1... Step 2... Step 3... These are step-by-step approaches not available elsewhere.

"Impressive!...straight to the point...organizing the material in a Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 makes it so much simpler... I am certainly going to recommend it to my classmates!"

-Haris, 3rd year medical student

Look Inside the Book at Amazon to see how our resource can elevate your clerkship performance and allow you to deliver optimal care to your patients. See why Medical Media Review ranked the book as "one of the best medical books of all time."


Step 7: Prepare a Powerful Residency Application

Residency programs require applicants to submit their completed application through the Electronic Residency Application Service, also known as ERAS.

In my experience working with applicants, errors are common in the ERAS Application.  Although spelling and grammatical errors are frequently seen, equally common and dangerous are the less well appreciated errors. Chief among these errors is the use of language or words that makes an applicant's experiences and accomplishments seem less impressive. The words that you use in your description have a powerful impact on the impression that you leave on an application reviewer.

We agree with the words of the American College of Physicians. "Generally, your curriculum vitae is the first contact you may have with a prospective program director...It should emphasize your strength and create an interest about you sufficient to result in a personal interview."

These errors can prevent applicants from securing interviews. Even when interviews are secured, errors in the ERAS Application can lead an interviewer to downgrade an applicant's overall score. This can lower your position on the program's rank list, and affect your chances of matching. We have considerable experience reviewing ERAS Applications and can make sure that your application is polished, professional, and powerful.


Step 8: Develop a Powerful and Compelling Personal Statement

In a survey of neurology residency programs, 75% cited the personal statement as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. In our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, you'll find a detailed chapter on personal statement preparation. 

For those requiring additional assistance, we have an exceptional personal statement review and editing service.

"I am incredibly impressed with every aspect of your service with initial contact to the quality of product and overall professionalism. I am definitely going to recommend friends I know who are interested to your website."

Learn More About Our Personal Statement Review and Editing Service


Step 9: Impress During Your Neurology Residency Interview

An invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you are considered a competitive candidate for a residency position. However, your work is not done, and you need to be diligent in your interview preparation to maximize your chances of success. In the most recent NRMP Program Director Survey of neurology residency programs, "interpersonal skills" and “interactions with faculty during interview” were the two most important factors for ranking applicants with mean importance ratings of 4.8 and 4.7, respectively, out of 5.0 (scale from 1 [not at all important] to 5 [very important]). 

In our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, you'll find four extensive chapters to prepare you for the residency interview. Be sure to also read our article How to Succeed in Your Residency Interview to learn how you can stand out from other applicants.

Our experience has also shown that applicants often sound the same in interviews. When this happens, applicants miss out on an important opportunity to significantly improve their rank order position. In our mock interview service with Dr. Samir Desai, we'll show you how to deliver winning responses that will set you apart from other applicants.

"After reviewing the information we discussed during our mock interview session, I felt so much better about my chances. The suggestions you gave me were very very helpful! Everything you asked came up during interviews, and I felt well prepared. Thanks again."


"I was an older IMG far removed from medical school. I only had a few interviews so I did not have high hopes for a good outcome. You gave me hope, and told me it could happen if we prepare hard. You were right. It worked. My wife and I will never forget you."

Learn More About Our Residency Mock Interview Service


Step 10: After the Match

If you have matched successfully into neurology, let us congratulate you. If your efforts were unsuccessful, all is not lost. We have had great results helping re-applicants  match successfully. Applicants who find themselves in this position should consider consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai. Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation.

Thinking About
Fellowship Training in Neurology?

What does it actually take to secure a position in the subspecialty and program of your choice?

In our book Resident's Guide to the Fellowship Match: Rules for Success, we answer this important question.

Read the First Chapter

As with our book, The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succeed in the Residency Match, we provide specific evidence-based advice to maximize your chances of success.

Includes a Chapter on Neurology Subspecialties

We also provide consulting services to fellowship applicants. All applicants work directly with
Dr. Samir Desai.