SOAP MATCH Strategy - IMGPrep


June 19, 2024


What is the SOAP Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program? How Do I Maximize My Chances for Success with a SOAP Match Strategy

This article will provide an oversight of the evolution of the SOAP it components and how having an organized SOAP MATCH Strategy can assist this process.

The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) is an essential part of the residency matching process for medical graduates who do not initially secure a residency position through the Main Residency Match (MRM). This article delves into the history of SOAP, its evolution from what was once known as “The Scramble,” and strategies to maximize your chances for success.

A Brief History of SOAP: From The Scramble to Today

The SOAP process has its origins in what was informally known as “The Scramble,” a chaotic period when unmatched applicants would frantically contact residency programs with unfilled positions. This unstructured method created immense stress for applicants and program directors alike, often leading to suboptimal placements and wasted opportunities.

In 2012, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) introduced SOAP to replace The Scramble. The SOAP was designed to provide a more orderly, transparent, and equitable system for both applicants and residency programs. This structured approach aims to reduce the chaos and pressure associated with The Scramble by providing a streamlined process where unmatched applicants can apply to unfilled positions in a more organized manner.

Key Components of SOAP

SOAP consists of several key phases:

  1. Eligibility: To participate in SOAP, applicants must be eligible to enter GME programs on July 1 of the year they are applying. They must also be registered for the Main Residency Match.
  2. Application Process: During SOAP, eligible unmatched applicants can apply to unfilled programs using the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Applicants can apply to up to 45 programs.
  3. Offers Rounds: SOAP includes several offer rounds where residency programs extend offers to applicants. Applicants have a limited time to accept or decline offers.
  4. Post-SOAP: After SOAP concludes, unmatched applicants and programs with unfilled positions can still connect outside the SOAP process.

How to Maximize Your Chances for Success with a SOAP MATCH Strategy

1. Prepare Early

Preparation is key to succeeding in SOAP. Begin by identifying programs that have historically had unfilled positions and ensure they align with your career goals and qualifications. Familiarize yourself with the SOAP timeline and requirements to avoid last-minute surprises. Additionally, if you require a visa, be aware that the unfilled list does not specify which programs offer visa sponsorship. Prepare to quickly obtain this information from alternative sources. i.e. Freida

For International Medical Graduates (IMGs), it’s critical to understand that if a program has never previously accepted an IMG, the SOAP period is not when programs typically become more flexible regarding this criterion.

2. Tailor Your Applications

Customize your applications for each program. Highlight relevant experiences and skills that match the program’s needs. A well-tailored application can make a significant difference in standing out among other applicants. If you are open to a parallel specialty, prepare a personal statement (PS) specific to that specialty in advance.

3. Strengthen Your Personal Statement

A compelling personal statement can help differentiate you from other candidates. Use this opportunity to explain why you are a good fit for the program and how you can contribute to their team. Be honest, concise, and focus on your strengths and experiences.

4. Leverage Your Network

While direct contact with programs during SOAP is prohibited outside of the NRMP system, networking can still be beneficial in the preparation stages. Seek support and advice from mentors, advisors, and colleagues. They can provide valuable insights and write strong letters of recommendation that bolster your application.

5. Stay Organized

Keep track of deadlines, application statuses, and communications with programs. Organization is crucial to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities and can respond promptly to offers.

6. Be Flexible

Flexibility can enhance your chances of securing a position. Consider applying to programs in less competitive specialties or geographic locations. Being open to various opportunities increases your likelihood of matching.

Programs with Historically More Spots in SOAP

Certain residency programs and specialties tend to have more unfilled positions during SOAP. Over the years, primary care specialties like Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics often have more spots available. Community-based programs and those in less populous or rural areas also frequently have unfilled positions.


The SOAP process, while challenging, offers unmatched applicants a structured opportunity to secure a residency position. By preparing early, tailoring applications, leveraging networks, and staying organized, you can maximize your chances for success. Understanding the history and components of SOAP can also provide valuable insights into navigating this critical phase of the residency match process.

We understand how utterly devastating it can be to realize you didn’t match after investing so much hard work into your application. The SOAP requires compartmentalization of this reality, fast action, and organization. No organization outside of the NRMP can assist during this time, and not following the rules may result in a match violation. Do not measure your self-worth as a candidate based on one match cycle; many exceptional candidates have failed to match and have gone on to match and build successful medical careers. Stay focused, proactive, and adaptable, and you will enhance your prospects of securing a residency position through SOAP. Good luck!

IMGPrep is a leading educational consulting firm dedicated to assisting IMGs in reaching their goals, dreams, and potential. Check out our other Articles and learn more about IMGPrep

IMGprep is not associated with the NRMP® or the MATCH® ECFMG®