Your Residency Personal Statement is a crucial component of your application package. In just one page, you need to communicate several important ideas. Of course, you’ll want to write about why you chose the specialty you’re applying to and why your experiences and strengths are aligned with the field. You will also want to stand out as a unique applicant who has something to offer the program. But what about less impressive aspects of your background? Many residency candidates wonder if they should address low USMLE Scores in the Personal Statement. Read below for our advice.

Addressing Low USMLE Scores in the Personal Statement

When it comes to writing about low USMLE Scores in the Personal Statement, you’ll want to consider a few factors. First, are your scores actually considered low for the specialty you’re applying to? Review average scores for Matched IMGs in the 18 most IMG-friendly specialties here. Just because you didn’t earn the score you’d hoped for doesn’t mean your score isn’t competitive. Next, think about the reason your scores were low. If there were extenuating circumstances in your life when you took the exam, it makes sense to explain them in your Personal Statement. If, however, the reason for low scores was failure to adequately prepare, rushing to take the exam, or another reason that, while true, does not reflect positively on you, addressing this topic in the Personal Statement might not be a great idea.


“Leaving something to the imagination” isn’t always a good thing! Taking the time to explain why you did not earn the score you hoped to on your USMLE exams can prove beneficial. Doing so gives readers insight into the circumstances that played a role in your exam score(s). Not offering any type of explanation could leave your readers wondering if your score matters to you. Or, they could come to the conclusion that you don’t want to acknowledge the score.

If you do address low USMLE scores in the Personal Statement, make sure not to go overboard. A few sentences are enough to offer your explanation. Your PS should focus on your strengths and experiences!


If your scores were significantly below a program’s typical ranges and they are reading your Personal Statement, it means your readers were likely impressed with other aspects of your application and aren’t looking to read about your scores. If you spend time explaining this topic, you’re losing valuable space to write about what readers really want to know: why you are an awesome candidate!


For more tips on writing a great Personal Statement, check out our blog Creating a Well Crafted Medical Residency Personal Statement. If you need assistance with your Personal Statement, visit Residency Statement. Our expert editors and writers are dedicated to helping you craft the perfect Personal Statement!