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Acceptance Factors for Matching into Radiology for Residency

8 min


Two radiology residents looking at an x-ray on a computer monitor.


How to Match into a Radiology Residency Program


It’s residency application season and today we’re looking at what it takes to match into Radiology residency! The NRMP Program directors survey “at a glance” tool is extremely helpful in gauging where your application packet stands compared to the applicant pool, and whether adding additional components, like a letter of recommendation (LOR) in the specialty, could give you a leg up as programs review your application.

The interactive tableau tool can be found here, and we recommend taking a look at the specialty you’ll be applying to before submitting your ERAS packet: https://public.tableau.com/profile/national.resident.matching.program#!/vizhome/PDSurvey_0/Desktoptablet
Residency Applications

Major components of the survey you should pay attention to for Radiology Residency Matching (from top to bottom of the page):

  • Selection Criteria – Step 1 score is a MAJOR factor, while your MSPE and having an LOR in the specialty are also highly recommended
    • Your Personal statement matters in Radiology, so be sure to spend some time writing and revising. Get someone to take a look and give you feedback (especially the PD at your home institution if they’re willing)

  • Step 2 – You SHOULD take it: 50%+ of programs required at least passing CK, and we expect this number to continue to grow. So please make sure you will have your Step 2 score in by Early October at the latest.
  • Step 1 Score – 240+ looks like a solid in Radiology
    • Range programs do NOT typically offer interviews: 220 seems to be the minimum threshold we would recommend for having a good chance at enough interviews. If you’re below 220 range, we suggest having a back-up specialty you could consider.
    • Range programs DO typically offer interviews: 235-245 seems to be the range at which you can feel comfortable in being offered interviews by a decent number of programs. If you’re in the 250-260 range, you can likely be selective about where you apply.
  • Step 2 – Score a 225+: Treat Step 2 as a “minimum threshold” since Step 2 is generally looked at secondarily to Step 1. 225+ seems to be the target where you need to be to feel comfortable for Radiology.

  • Failing Step 1 NOT a show stopper: While Failing step 1 is a BIG deal in ANY specialty, 50% of radiology programs MAY still consider you if you’ve failed Step 1/Step 2. So, if you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply, but you should apply to a BIG number (100+) of programs.

  • International Grads Need to be Strong!: Only 1/4 of programs routinely consider IMGs, and most seldom do. We recommend doing your homework to determine which programs are more likely to consider IMGs, and advise you to apply to a lot of programs.

  • Interviewees Get Ranked!: If you get an interview invitation, you’re 90% likely to end up on the rank list if you interview. We recommend ranking at least 10-15 programs, so once you’ve got 15 interview invitations, you can feel okay with starting to prioritize and cancel as more come in given you’re likely to get ranked.
  • Expect interview invitations from late Sept to early Nov: If you’re falling short of 10-15 interviews by the second week in Nov, start reaching out to programs you are REALLY interested in to express interest in interviewing to beef up your rank list.
  • Expect to interview in Nov/Dec: For further discussion on how to prep for your interview see our blog post on How to Crush your Residency Interview: 


After you’ve browsed your specialty, take a look at a few other specialties and note what’s NOT important for Radiology Residency Application:


  • Research isn’t important for radiology (like it is for Plastics or Derm)
  • Having “connections” and personal relationship with the program isn’t as important for radiology



Radiology Residency Application Summary: 


  • A solid Radiology application would include a 240 on Step 1, 230+ on Step 2, an LOR from a Radiologist, and strong MSPE and Personal Statement. 
  • IMGs can apply in Radiology, but it’s a tough market, and IMGs need a strong application to be considered.
  • If you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply in Radiology, but you should apply very broadly
  • Expect Interviews Late Sept-Early Nov. Reach out to programs you have high interest in if you haven’t heard from them by Mid-Nov. Once you have about 15 interview invitations, you can start being picky about which ones you actually take (but not before).



Good Luck!

Wondering about your chances of matching into other specialties for residency? Check out our analysis of the NRMP directors survey “at a glance” tool for areas including anesthesia, dermatology, family medicine, transitional year, psychiatry, emergency medicine, neurology and more under the Residency Applications category of our blog! If you need further or specialized assistance understanding which residency specialties you are best suited to apply to, you can contact us or visit our residency advising page to learn more about how Elite Medical Prep residency advising services.

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About the Author

Martin B., MD

Before graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from the University of Miami in 2007, Martin Bauknight was awarded the Excellence in Teaching award…

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