Participating in the SOAP Process: A Guide for Foreign Medical Graduates


The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) occurs during Match Week. As a foreign medical graduate looking to enter a US medical residency program, there are two ways in which you might end up participating in SOAP: if you don’t receive any interview offers, or if you find out on the Monday of Match Week that you weren’t matched by the algorithm after submitting your ROL. Read on for more information about each of these situations, and find out what you can expect from the SOAP process in 2018.

Next Steps if You Were Not Offered Interviews

After working hard on your application, it can be disappointing to find out that you were not offered any interviews. However, that does not mean that you won’t be starting a US medical residency program in July. You are still eligible to participate in the SOAP process during Match Week, so there is a still a good chance that you can find a spot in an unfilled program.

If you did not receive any interview offers, the only thing you need to do during the fall and winter is to register for the Main Residency Match. For the 2018 Match, the regular deadline passed on November 30, 2017, but the late registration deadline is February 21, 2018. If you haven’t yet registered, you will need to pay a late fee of 50 dollars, but you can still participate in the 2018 Match.  Although the late registration deadline is the same as the deadline for creating a Rank Order List (ROL), it is important to note that you do not need to worry about creating one if you were not offered any interviews, because the algorithm will not match you to a program anyway. All you have to do is get registered and wait for Match Week to arrive!

Participating in SOAP During Match Week

If you did not get any interview offers for the fall or winter, you will know before Match Week that you will be participating in SOAP. However, you might also find out at 11:00 am Eastern Time Monday of Match Week (March, 12, 2018), when the NRMP releases the Main Residency Match results. SOAP begins when the results are released and candidates find out whether or not they got matched. If you find out that you did not get matched, SOAP is your best option.

At 12:00 pm Eastern Time on the Monday of Match Week, you can start preparing your SOAP application in the AAMC ERAS system. It is important to be prepared, because programs can start reviewing your application at 3:00 pm, and they can start contacting you as soon as they receive your application. Communicating directly with a program on the first or second day of the SOAP process can significantly boost your chances of getting matched to an unfilled program, since programs start preparing their SOAP preferences lists at 11:30 am the next morning (Tuesday, March 13). The deadline for programs to certify their preference lists for Round 1 is 11:55 am on Wednesday, March 14.

Five minutes later, at 12:00 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday of Match Week, SOAP participants receive the Round 1 offers. At that point, you have two hours to accept or reject your Round 1 offers, and at 2:05 pm, SOAP Round 2 begins. This time, programs have only 50 minutes to alter and re-certify their preference lists, and you will receive your Round 2 offers at 3:00 pm. Again, you have only two hours to accept the offers, reject, or wait for Round 3 offers.

Programs have all of Wednesday night to alter and re-ceritfy their preference lists, which means that SOAP applicants get their Round 3 offers at 9:00 am on Thursday, March 15, 2018. SOAP ends two hours later (11:00 am Eastern Time), which is the deadline to accept or reject the Round 3 offers. After Round 3, SOAP officially ends.

After Soap: The Post-Soap List of Unfilled Programs

Once SOAP ends, candidates have the opportunity to access the post-SOAP list of unfilled programs. At 12:00 pm Eastern Time on Thursday of Match Week, candidates who have not yet accepted an offer can access the list of unfilled programs, including programs that decided not to participate in SOAP. If you have not yet been matched, you can take a look at the programs on the list and immediately start contacting any program about a possible offer.

Preparing to Participate in SOAP

Clearly, participating in SOAP (or post-SOAP matching opportunities) is a highly a complex process with a tight schedule. In order to be successful, you have to be prepared — regardless of whether or not you were interviewed, since you might find out on Monday of Match Week that you were not matched. Going into Match week, you should have a strong familiarity with the schedule discussed above, and you should be ready to provide programs with an updated CV and other information that shows them exactly why you are an excellent candidate for a US medical residency program.


If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking for success in the matching process, FMG is here to help. From the moment you start considering a US medical residency program to the day you get matched, you can count on our resources to help you through. Contact us today for more information!


Preparing Your Rank Order List: Do’s and Don’ts for Foreign Medical Graduates


Now that you’ve finished your initial application, completed your interviews, and finalized your registration for the 2018 Match, there is only one thing left to do: prepare your Rank Order List (ROL). Earlier on the blog, we talked about the basics of ROLs — what they are, how they work, and what foreign medical graduates need to know from the start. Today, we were going to go further in-depth and talk about some of the Do’s and Don’ts for creating an ROL. That way, when the Rank Order List Entry opens on January 15, 2018 (mark your calendar!), you will have the tools you need for success.

DO’s for Creating Your Rank Order List (ROL)

When it comes to creating your rank order list, there are key things that you should make sure to do.


  • DO rank programs in the order of your true preference. The ROL is the place where you get to tell the NRMP where you want to train. After spending months or even years scoping out programs and trying to get a feel for the different training options, this is your opportunity to let the NRMP know which programs you think will best support both your personal and professional goals. Even if you worry that a particular program might be a “reach” for you, you should rank it at the top if it is the place where you would most like to complete your training!
  • DO include a both competitive and less-competitive schools on your ROL. While you should definitely rank your preferred programs at the top — even if they are highly competitive — you should also try to include programs with less competitive profiles on your list. That way, if you don’t end up getting matched to some of the more competitive programs, you won’t run the risk of not getting matched at all.
  • DO remember to certify your ROL before the deadline. In order for the match algorithm to process your ROL, it needs to be certified within the R3 system by 9:00 pm Eastern Standard time on February 21, 2018. Also, you should note that the R3 system is notorious for running slowly in the last few days before the deadline, so if you have your ROL ready in advance, DO upload it early.
  • DO remember that you can change ROLs that have already been certified. If you decide to upload your ROL early, you still have the chance to change your mind before the February 21 deadline — as long as you remember to recertify your ROL. The Match algorithm will only process the last certified ROL.

DON’Ts for Creating Your Rank Order List (ROL)

Preparing your rank order list might seem simple enough, but don’t be fooled! There are a variety of pitfalls that you can easily fall into if you’re not careful. Here are a few major DON’Ts for foreign medical graduates who are preparing their ROLs:


  • DON’T rank programs where you aren’t interested in training. When creating your ROL, you may be tempted to rank all the programs where you interviewed, and that’s a great plan if you feel comfortable training in any of the programs. However, if you have misgivings about a program and are only including it because you feel desperate to get matched, you might want to think twice about adding it to your ROL. When you certify your ROL, you make a binding commitment to train at any program where you get matched, so you should only rank programs where you would feel satisfied about (and celebrate!) a match.
  • DON’T include programs where you did not interview. As you already know, the Match is a computer algorithm. It won’t recognize any programs where you did not interview as options for a match. Therefore, it’s not worth the time to include any of these programs on your ROL.
  • DON’T wait until the deadline to enter your ROL into the system. Creating an ROL requires more than just writing down a list of programs — the R3 system can initially be confusing, so you should give yourself enough time to figure it out. Also, the NRMP warns that its servers tend to get overloaded in the last few days before the deadline, so it’s a good idea to give yourself extra time to make sure that you won’t have to worry about unexpected technological glitches.
  • DON’T forget to save your ROL after making changes. When you add a new program to your list or change the order in the R3 system, you have to click the “save” button before you leave the system if you want to return to your ROL the way you left it. It is important to note that saving an ROL is different from certifying it. Saving your ROL allows you to develop and change your ROL as the deadline approaches, but it is only finalized and ready for processing by the match algorithm when you certify it.
  • DON’T try to import an ROL on a mobile device. These days, you can use your smartphone or tablet for just about everything. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include every part of the residency matching process. In order to import an ROL in the R3 system, you need to be using a traditional laptop or desktop computer.



Whether you’re anticipating the last few months of the 2018 NRMP Match, gearing up for the 2019 Match, or looking ahead to future years, FMG Portal is here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for more information!