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!