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  • Understanding the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP)

    On Monday of Match week, you'll learn if—but not where—you matched. If you didn't match, there's still an opportunity to match to a residency program through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP®). SOAP matches are announced along with applicants who matched in the Main Residency Match on Friday.

    What is the SOAP?

    The SOAP is a National Resident Matching Program-run system that takes place to match unfilled residency positions with eligible unmatched applicants. During SOAP, applicants submit new applications to residencies, interview, and then are offered positions in several rounds that each have two-hour windows for response. The entire process including three, but sometimes more, rounds of offers takes place Monday through Thursday of Match week. 

    SOAP may not be the most direct route to matching to a residency program, but can be just as rewarding. If you find yourself participating, keep in mind there's evidence that residents who matched to their residency program through SOAP:

    • Performed well and had a strong fit to their programs;
    • Met all educational goals of the programs; and
    • Received high recommendations for future practice from their program directors.

    10 Tips for Participating in SOAP

    1. Review the SOAP timeline and resources from the AAMC and the NRMP .
    2. Update your application in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®).
    3. Using ERAS, access the list of programs with unfilled positions and apply to programs that meet your practice and educational goals.
    4. Use your allotted applications in the first round on Monday of Match week. Programs no longer look for new candidates in later rounds, so be sure to use your application allowance(s).
    5. Avoid Match violations by not contacting programs outside of ERAS after you've applied. Remind your faculty and mentors that they shouldn't contact programs either. 
    6. Wait for programs to contact you.  
    7. Interviews will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
    8. A rank list will not need to be prepared for SOAP.
    9. Offers typically begin Thursday morning and occur in four rounds.
    10. Respond to offers to accept, deny, or allow them to expire. Expired offers will not be presented again in subsequent rounds.

    Why don’t some programs fill?

    There are always residency programs that don't fill for a variety of reasons which have nothing to do with the quality of the program. 

    With family medicine growing as a specialty, there are many new programs. Some are likely to have community-based programs which are unattached to large academic health systems causing them to be lesser known. 

    Rest assured you'll find a desirable residency training opportunity through SOAP.

    How many applicants match in the SOAP?

    Nearly all remaining residency positions are filled during the SOAP. See what happened in last year’s SOAP. Get the latest numbers in the AAFP’s Strolling Through the Match to learn how many applicants typically match through the SOAP.

    Although the odds of matching in the SOAP are good, they are dramatically lower for applicants who skip the main residency interview season and opt for a SOAP-only approach.

    What should I do if I don't Match after SOAP?

    Your dean’s office is prepared to counsel students who do not match. Stay in contact with mentors and advisors, and find ways to build on your education by participating in research or working in a volunteer or employed position in a medical setting. Continue to build your curriculum vitae as you devise a new strategy for next year’s match.