Home » What You Need to Match Into Urology for Residency – Step 2 Scores and Other Helpful Tips!

What You Need to Match Into Urology for Residency – Step 2 Scores and Other Helpful Tips!

14 min


Medical tools and supplies arranged on a table with a paper labeled 'Urology,' including a stethoscope, syringes, a pill organizer, and a urine sample container.


What Step 2 score do I need to get into a urology residency?


With the new scoring system of Pass/Fail for Step 1, much of the focus has shifted to a Step 2 score. In competitive residencies like urology, a higher Step 2 score can help open the door to interviews. With this switch, many have been curious what Step 2 score is necessary to succeed in the match.


Unfortunately, there is never a “magic number” to guarantee success. And although the AUA releases data regarding the match (accessible here), they do not release an average Step 2 score of matched urology applicants.


When Step 1 was scored, many recommended a score in the 240s. For Step 2, a score in the 250s (above average) would likely put you in a place to receive urology residency interviews and succeed. This is not to say that a 240s score means you shouldn’t apply, and it also doesn’t mean you should stop at the 250s if you can aim higher! But a score in the 250s will leave you in a safe-ish zone and prove that you are in the top half of testing students. That said, remember that there is never truly a “safe” zone, as many factors play into residency application success (I know, I’m sorry, probably not what you wanted to hear).


At the end of the day, as with many residencies, you want the very highest Step 2 score possible to put on your application! As mentioned, many other factors play in to the application as well (research experience, extracurricular involvement, letters, etc.), but a high Step 2 score may be just what you need to open the door to urology residency interviews.



Is it possible to match urology residency with a Step 1 fail?


Oof! This is a tough one, but I want to begin with NOTHING is impossible. Step 1 is a ONE day test where anything can happen. I get it…you had a bad day, the testing conditions were off, you had external stressors, etc. It happens. And it’s so tough that so much of our careers can ride on one specific day. Unfortunately, a Step 1 fail can be a pretty big hit, but it does not mean the end of the world. With a Step 1 fail on your record, you may consider taking an extra research year to boost your application and study for Step 2. The best thing you can do to overcome the Step 1 fail is to prove that you are capable with the highest Step 2 score possible!



Should I apply for a urology residency with my Step 2 score on my application?


YES! Absolutely, yes! While you need to make sure you have enough time to study and succeed on the exam, you also should most certainly apply with the Step 2 score present on the application. This means taking the test at least 3 weeks before the application is due. This will help prove that your time management skills helped you get in your away rotations and you made time to study for Step. While it can make for a few difficult months the summer before applications are due, it is certainly worth it to cram it all in. I would suspect most, if not all, of urology applicants apply with a Step 2 score.



What should I do with my 30 signals? Should I only apply to 30 programs?


Another recent change is the 30 signals that you now have while applying to residency. This has led many to decrease the number of applications they submit (and ultimately save money while applying to fewer programs!).


With your 30 signals, you need to be strategic. If you are an average student, do not submit all 30 signals to all top programs. Perhaps you could aim for 5-7 “reach” programs, 15-20 solid programs that you are interested in, and around 5 “safety” programs. (Urology is competitive in general, so there aren’t really any “safety” programs, but consider applying to lesser-known programs).


If you have a “red flag” on your application, be honest with yourself about this, and target smaller programs.


If you have a great Step 2 score, wonderful research, glowing letters, etc., then you can consider signaling 10-15 of the top-tier urology residency programs.


Perhaps most importantly, make sure that you signal where you want to go. Urology residency is a long 5 years, you want to go to a place where you will be comfortable and happy while you train to become a urologic surgeon. Exciting!



Should I dual apply?


As urology becomes more and more competitive, dual applying might be a fair consideration. BUT, you really need to ask yourself what you want. Is your number one priority to match somewhere and start residency? Could you be happy in another specialty? Is your number one priority to become a urologist ONLY? Would you want to do a year of research? If your goal is urology or bust, then consider applying urology along with a few general surgery prelim spots. You could get a general surgery prelim spot or spend a year doing research. If you could be happy in another specialty, then dual applying makes more sense.


Also of note, urology is considered “outside the match.” This means that you will apply through the AUA and not through NRMP. You also match earlier to urology (in February). If you dual apply and do not match urology, you could then rank the non-urology programs that you interviewed at and enter the NRMP match.



What else do I need to succeed in the urology match?


While a high Step 2 score is extremely helpful in succeeding in the urology residency match, it is certainly not the only factor. Other things such as mentors, research, and away rotations can also be crucial parts of your success in the match.




Ensure that you set yourself up with great mentors to help you through this process. It’s a long and sometimes confusing process, reach out to urologists and urology residents to ask for advice along the way. If you don’t have a home urology program, Twitter can be a great way to connect with people who are happy to help you along in your journey. Enlisting the help of a residency advisor can also be beneficial.




Most urology applicants have some kind of research on their application. It doesn’t necessarily need to be urology-specific research (although that is best!), but you need to prove that you are capable of and interested in some type of research. Once again, ask the mentors in your life if you need help getting connected to a project.


Away Rotations


Almost all urology residency applicants complete 2-3 away rotations. These away rotations can be a great way for both you and the program to test the waters. You may find that you love the program, or you may learn that it is not a great fit for you—either way, away rotations can be critical in helping you identify what you value in a program. These are also a great time to find new mentors outside of your program and ask for a letter of recommendation. Since it may only be 3-4 weeks, make sure to ask for the letter early! This will give them a heads-up that you expect a letter and will also give them plenty of time to write the letter.



Any final words?


As you begin to prepare for the urology residency application cycle, remember that this is a stressful time, but it is also an exciting time! The past 3+ years of work is finally coming to fruition as you make plans to become a urologic surgeon. You will finally lose your title as “the medical student” and gain the coveted (and perhaps sleepy) title of “urology resident.” Do your best on Step, on your away rotations, on your personal statement, on your interviews…and then go enjoy fourth year!!!


If you are looking for additional help with your application, consider enlisting the help of a residency advisor. Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more!

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About the Author

Coco Stewart

During her time in medical school, Coco was president of the Urology Student Association and a member of the AOA Medical Honor Society.

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