To increase your chances of matching to your chosen residency program, and improve your application if you went unmatched last year, consider a residency prep course in 2024. A residency prep course can help you with every step of the residency application and interview process and provides attendees with useful information to ensure that they stand out among others in their field.

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8 min read

What Do Residency Prep Courses Cover? How Can Students Benefit from Residency Prep Courses? Residency Prep Courses: What to Expect FAQs

The residency match is the process by which MD and DO medical students are matched with a position in a residency program. It's an important step in a physician's career, and it's also often a stressful one. According to recent Canadian data from CaRMS, depending on the applicant type (USMG, IMG, or CMG), approximately 68-93% of applicants match to their respective positions, whereas students who graduated the previous year saw a slightly higher match rate overall.

 In the United States, it's estimated that around 23% of medical students do not match for residency during their first attempt. It’s very possible that the successful 78.5% who matched in the United States went to a medical school with the best match rate, or, submitted exceptional application materials and perhaps took a residency prep course. Additionally, this means that many MD students will have to wait at least one year before they are able to start their careers as physicians. Current statistics from the US show that around 23% of medical students who don't match in the first round will eventually be successful in their second attempt.

Rate of unmatched residency on the first attempt:

If you're an MD student looking to match this year or next year, it's worth considering enrolling in a residency prep course. These courses are designed to help you prepare for the rigors of residency applications, interviews, as well as helping you learn how to create your residency rank order list.

What Do Residency Prep Courses Cover?

A residency prep course will help you prepare the best application by guiding you through the process of writing, composing your CV, and preparing other relevant materials. Additionally, your residency prep course can help you prepare for interviews by setting up mocks, giving you homework to practice, and help you create your list of programs you’re hoping to match to.

Residency prep courses may cover any and all of the following:

Residency prep courses can also provide students with a holistic review of the entire residency application process, including:

Because applying to residency is such a crucial and stressful time for all MD and DOstudents, a course can serve as a method of instilling confidence, assisting students with their important decisions, and sharing valuable information and resources with them that can help ensure their applications are strong, that they’re applying to the best programs, and, that they’re able to interview with ease and match!

How Can Students Benefit from Residency Prep Courses?

Enrolling in a residency prep course can benefit students in many ways:

Help you understand the application process

First and foremost, attending a residency prep course can help you get a better understanding of the entire application process. This is crucial because, as the statistics reveal, not every MD and DO student match residency. Whether or not you’re trying to match the most competitive residency or the least competitive residency, the competition is fierce, so your application and interview performance must be outstanding. An overview of the timeline, steps, materials, and expectations surrounding your application period can be helpful in the sense that it can help you visualize all that you need to do, understand where you need to improve, and prepare accordingly!

Help you narrow down, or align, your choices and goals

A residency prep course can also help you narrow down your choices, and help prepare you for your residency experience. If you’re unsure which field is best for you, or, are looking to learn more about career outcomes and what day-to-day life might look like as a resident doctor, a residency prep course can certainly help put your options into perspective and help steer you in a direction that best correlates with your professional interests, passions, and long-term career goals. They may also be able to provide you with online resources and other tools to help you through your application and decision-making process.

Learn how to prepare for your residency application

In order to increase your chances of matching, you must have an absolutely stellar application. Once your course gives you a good idea of your timeline and what’s expected, it will likely divulge in details and tips surrounding your most vital application components! For example, your personal statement must be perfected and professional, and you must communicate your relevant experiences, qualifications and skillset on your application concisely, and in a way that captivates the reader/admissions director. A residency prep course can teach you how to use what training you’ve had in medical school, and what experiences you’ve had in the field, to your best advantage to make your residency application the very best it can be! Additionally, a prep course may be able to help you recognize any red flags in your residency personal statement, and teach you how to phrase and detail certain portions in a better way, as well as how to prepare other materials such as your ERAS experience section and residency letter of intent. Highlighting your strengths as an applicant and future physician is imperative in a competitive field, and a residency prep course can teach you strategies, as well as provide you with instruction and examples, of how to do just that.

It can help you practice and enhance specific skills

A residency prep course will also give you an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills with professionals and mock interview opportunities and, understand what will be expected of you in your interview and provide you with tools for self-assessment. This can be especially helpful, as most residency interviewers will ask you a number of open-ended questions, such as the classic, ‘tell me about yourself’ residency interview question, that require an extensive amount of thought and a concise delivery. By practicing these types of questions with other medical students, or reviewing them on your own, you’ll gain confidence in your answers—and hopefully avoid any major gaffes when it comes time for real interviews.

It can help you gain confidence

Residency prep courses can also help with confidence, which is critical to have as a resident, and as a future doctor/specialist in your respective field. Many medical students are nervous about the residency application process, and for good reason. Many are also nervous about residency in general, as it is a significant and important step in a student’s career! There are a lot of different specialties to choose from, and it can be difficult to know how to choose a medical specialty that is right for you, and if you’re making the right decision. Residency prep courses can help with this decision by providing information on all of the different types of residencies, such as the best pediatric residency programs, the best internal medicine residency programs or the best residency programs for surgery, depending on your area of interest. Prep courses can also conduct interviews with current residents and even some physicians who have recently graduated from residency programs themselves.

It can help with exam preparation

Residency prep courses can help students learn how to study during residency and prepare for USMLE Step 2 CK and OSCE exams, which are often a major source of stress for medical students. These courses can help students with studying techniques and test-taking strategies, as well as providing OSCE prep cases practice exams that simulate the real thing.

Wondering how to prepare for your residency applications?

It can be a ‘refresh’ if you did not match in previous years

Whether you didn’t match last year, or, you graduated medical school some time ago, your residency prep course may be a worthwhile ‘refresh’ for you to brush up on your application preparation skills and knowledge, interview skills, and professional career goals and areas of interest. This can be especially beneficial if you did not match last year, because attending a residency prep course can shine a light on areas where you may be struggling, or, components of your application that may be lacking. Attending a course may give you an ‘aha!’ moment and help you realize just what you need to do to improve you application, and improve your chances of matching!

Residency Prep Courses: What to Expect

If you want to increase your chances of matching, one-on-one help is the best option. Most residency match courses are delivered in-person; however, some may be virtual, hybrid, or entirely self directed. In most cases, students will have the opportunity to meet for one-on-one sessions with a residency professional, admissions advisor, or another healthcare/academic professional. The residency prep course materials and instructor(s)will help you prepare by giving advice, answering questions, providing examples and sample/mock scenarios and interviews, and even by reviewing your application materials. As noted, some programs also offer online courses that can be taken on your own time and schedule. These classes typically consist of recorded lectures, live webinars and one-on-one feedback from an instructor who can answer any questions you may have. They may also include the opportunity to connect virtually with other MD students who are applying to residency, or, individuals who have already matched and can give helpful tips.

The duration of residency prep courses can vary greatly. Some residency prep courses may only be 1-2 weeks in length, and others may span over several months. They may be self-paced, or, they may require in-person attendance a few days each week for the duration of the course. The length of the residency prep course may also depend on your goals, how much time you want to spend studying and what kind of support you want from your school. For example, if you’re looking for a quick crash course to review all components of your medical residency application- then a one-week, or brief self-directed prep course may be for you. However, if you need more time to brush up on certain topics and would like weekly feedback from an instructor—as well as access to additional resources like books or peer feedback and thorough instructions for materials like your personal statement…then you may be best to consider enrolling in an intensive, or longer, residency prep course. And, although some residency prep courses may be offered as group sessions, for the most individualized approach, where an instructors full attention is given to you and less generic advice is given, a one-on-one course will be your best bet.

Still working on your CV?

The cost of your residency prep course may vary as well. Residency prep courses can be expensive, but there are some that are more affordable than others. If you’re currently an MD student, your program may very well offer a residency prep course, or be able to provide you with recommendations for one. Some courses are free to students, depending on their program and who is instructing the course.

Overall, attending a residency prep course can help provide you with an overview and a roadmap of your application process, review all components of your application and help you ensure that all of your materials are well written and captivating. It can also help instill confidence as you embark on a stressful (but rewarding) professional journey toward residency, and can connect you with other students and experts who can advise on how to make the transition to residency seamless. Lastly, residency prep courses can provide an overview of OSCE and USMLE tips, materials and expectations, and can help you prepare for interviews. They are worth consideration for medical students, whether it’s your first time applying to residency, or, if you graduated and did not match in previous years.


1. What is a residency prep course?

A residency prep course is a course that helps MD and DO students (current or previously graduated) prepare for their residency application, interviews, and, for residency. It will provide students with an overview of their residency application components, how to write a strong personal statement, how to tackle their residency interview, and what to expect in their first year of residency.

2. Who are residency prep courses designed for?

Residency prep courses are for all medical school graduates! Or, for those who will be graduating soon and are looking to get a head start on their residency application process. These courses can benefit all medical school students in some way—whether they didn’t match in previous years—or are just about to apply for the first time. The application process can be overwhelming, and a residency prep course can help students prepare a stellar application and understand what to expect should they match to their top program!

3. Why should I consider a residency prep course?

You may feel that you’re a capable writer and a strong candidate, but, some residency programs are tough to match to, and some MD students become a bit flustered by the application process. A prep course can help you organize and prepare your application, and teach you a bit more about residency. You will also likely have the opportunity to network and get feedback, which is always beneficial, especially if it means that your application will be the strongest it can be.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you’d like to take a residency prep course, but still feel you’d like support, consider a residency application consultant. And, if you’re an international applicant, consider a MCCQE prep course!

4. I’m not sure what program I want to match to most—is this still for me?

Absolutely. Even if you’re stuck between 2 – or 3, or 4—different programs, the application process remains the same. While your personal statement(s) will be unique for each field you’re applying to, the process and expectations are identical between all fields.

5. What are the current residency match rates in Canada and the United States?

Match rates vary between fields, but overall, in Canada 68-93% of first-time applicants match to their respective positions. In the United States, the match rate is 78.5%. While all of these statistics are good, it’s important to note that over 20% of students do not match on their first attempt!

6. What will a residency prep course cover?

A residency prep course may cover:

  • How to write a personal statement that makes you stand out
  • How to ace your interview
  • How to use your medical school grades and letters of recommendation to help you get in
  • The best ways to prepare for the USMLE exams
  • How to choose the right residency field for your career goals and desired lifestyle.
  • How to use the many tools available for medical students who are preparing for residency

Advice, feedback, and the opportunity to practice and connect with others

7. How long will be residency prep course be?

This can vary. Generally, courses span 1-2 weeks, but several week/month long courses are not uncommon!

8. Can I take a residency prep course online?

Course delivery varies, as many residency prep courses are lecture style, whereas some are more workshop style, and others are self-paced and include online webinars and activities. It’s recommended that you choose a course with a delivery method that suits your current needs and schedule!

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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