International Medical Graduate Guide
USMLE and Residency


Hello to all international medical graduates seeking residency in the USA and welcome to my own private website dedicated to all IMGs of all nations who need help in acing the USMLE tests, getting observerships and matching into their dream specialty. My name is Zafanili, a poor FMG who never thought that this moment will come true. I decided to build this website as a thank you back to all people who helped me in the process of getting observerships, applying to ERAS and NRMP where I ended in matching to my dream specialty and program. I will update this website as much as I can and I will try to maintain it running as long as I can afford. This is to thank all the IMGs who helped me achieving my dream and special thanks go the applicantguide team and their website who had the upper hand in leading me and all other FMGs as usual. Their patience and free one to one help was amazing. I will start writing about USMLE, observerships, ERAS, NRMP and SOAP. I will also put links on the right and left to the material I was using from the web. My email is

USMLE Journey:

USMLE scores are very important part of your ERAS application. Most of high tier university programs and competitive specialties as radiology and surgery will set their filters primary based on high scores. In other specialties like family medicine and internal medicine some improvements in your CV can overcome your low scores, which we will talk about it later in this site. So in this part of my website I will go into the typical way which USMLE aspirants should follow to get high USMLE scores.

It is very important to stick to one major reference, otherwise you will be lost between trivial contradicting nonsense issues. Most people who scores high study for Step 1 and step 2 CK from the Kaplan notes and they use the First Aid step 1 and 2 CK for revesion. In particular, one of the complementary books that I found very helpful was the USMLE step 2 secrets which can help in the last days revesions. If you feel unsatisfied with any subject in the kaplan notes then you can get one of these recommended books in that specific subject.

For step 1 and 2ck the most important thing here is to practice mcqs daily whatever your studying progress. Either get Kaplan qbank or get USMLE World UW qbank. Both of them are online banks containing thousands of mcqs that cover every single topic you need to master. You may add notes to your main studying source as you solve mcqs and come back to read them later. Both Kaplan and UW scores ( and even NBME) can be correlated to the actual USMLE expected score by using this USMLE score convertor. It is a very good widely used by IMGs predictor of your performance in the real USMLE exam. It is not just any other correlator but built by superior experts in the USMLE fields.

Now we come to the USMLE Clinical Skills CS exam. Although it is easiest test however it is the most stressful and many IMGs do fail inspite of having high scores in other steps. The key to pass this test without attempts is to know what you are doing and this is acheived easily if you prepare well from these two simple sources: a book you have to get which is the First Aid USMLE CS and a free CS protocol used by the AMGs as well. Do practice and practice all the cases in FA applying the CS protocol mentioned in the applicantguide site and you will easily pass this exam from the first time.

Don't rush any step, take your time in preparing, 6-8 months should be enough for step 1 and 4 months should be more than enough for step 2ck. Step 2 cs should not take more than 1-2 months provided that you master the First Aid CS and the CS protocol very well.

After you are done with your step 1 and 2 CK and CS in any sequence then the ECFMG certificate will be automatically sent to you by fedex as long as your medical school certified and verified your credentials with the ECFMG.

ERAS Application:

Many applicants gets confused on how to proceed with this very initial step, the ERAS token and the AAMC ID. Let us make it simple and clear. The first step is to buy the "new" ERAS token. Don't buy the previous match token which will stay available in your oasis till the end of MAY. You will need to buy the new token which will be available late June.

Whether you are a first time or a repeat applicant, login to your OASIS account and go to the ERAS section which usually (closes in May) opens in late June for the new season and buy a new ERAS token from there. The second step,once you get the token (it may take few hours to few days to have it), go to the AAMC/MyERAS registration page. If you are a repeat applicant, the ERAS token you have from the previous year will not work, but you will still given the same aamc id again when you buy the new token. After you finish registering with aamc using the eras token there you will get your aamc ID which works as an identification number for you besides your usual USMLE ID (this aamc page will be your MyERAS home page where you will use your aamc id as login). The third step is go back to your oasis account and find the DSF (Document Submission Form) click on it and start filling the information about the documents you want to submit. Typically speaking, for a new applicant, you will need to submit "original" MSPE (dean's letter or medical school performance evaluation), "copy" of the medical school transcript and original LORs (will talk about LORs in the observership section later on). These are the documents you have to send by mail in addition to the PTAL (California letter) if you were applying to California residency programs. Then you have to upload a professional photo of yours through oasis to your ERAS account. Then you will have to upload your personal statement(s) PS directly to your MyERAS account. You can upload as many PSs as you want. You can make different PSs for each specialty and even you can make unique PS for each single program ie personalized PS. A very important advice is don't use any company to do your PS, you will be thrown out from the match for plagiarism which is happening each year with many applicants. Do your home work yourself and just show it to somebody you trust for opinion, don't share it with any company or online/skype etc spammers.

Sending & Uploading Documents:

Few important things here to consider:

1-Dean's letter or MSPE (Medical School Performance Evaluation) should be original. It's date is not important even if you got it 10 years ago. Its title doesn't matter for an IMG. Even if you couldn't get it, it is not essential part of application for IMG.


To be continued soon.
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