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Are NBME Practice Exams a True Reflection of Shelf Exam Difficulty?

Medical school students taking a practice NBME to prepare for their shelf exams.


In medical education, shelf exams evaluate students' knowledge and clinical reasoning during core clinical clerkships. Administered by medical schools, often written by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), these pivotal exams determine students' readiness for clinical rotations and overall performance. Questions often arise about the correlation between NBME practice...

Understanding the New NBME Score Report

A medical school student looking through his NBME score report on a laptop to determine if he is ready for the USMLE exam.


Understanding the New NBME Score Reports for USMLE Step 1 and 2 Preparation   So you just finished an NBME practice exam and the score report pops up. Most students immediately focus on the big score reported at the top. However, there is a wealth of information you can glean...

2023 Guide to Interpreting NBME Practice Exams for Step 1 and Step 2

A medical school student taking an NBME practice test for USMLE prep in a living room in front of a desktop computer.


Almost all students preparing for the USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 will take at least one (hopefully more!) practice test leading up to test day. While various practice tests are available to assess your performance, many students will turn directly to the NBME practice tests. In this post, we...

Using the Old NBME Exam Forms Before They Are ‘Retired’

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Medical school student taking an old NBME practice exam in a computer room.


This blog was originally published 0n February 24, 2019, and may contain some out-of-date information. You may be interested in some of our more recent posts on this subject: NBME 25- NBME 30: Which is the Best Predictor for Passing Step 1 Best Ways to Use NBME Practice Exams to...

Using the UWSA Practice Tests After New NBME Releases

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A medical school students filling in a multiple choice exam bubble sheet while taking a UWSA practice test.


This blog was originally posted on February 25, 2019, and edited on August 8th 2023. For more recent relevant blogs you may be interested in:   Best Ways to Use NBME Practice Exams to Prepare for the Real Thing NBME 25- NBME 30: Which is the Best Predictor for Passing...

Reliability of the New NBME Forms in Predicting USMLE Step 1 Score

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A medical student taking an NBME practice exam.


On March 2nd, 2021, NBME is releasing its newest forms– 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.

Best Ways to Use NBME Practice Exams to Prepare for the Real Thing

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A med school student taking an NBME practice exam in preparation for Step 1 in a library.


The NBME, or National Board of Medical Examiners, writes practice exams for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3. The NBME exams contain questions similar to those found on your step exams and are one of the best ways to practice your test-taking skills for Step 1, 2, or 3. But what is the best way to use the NBME practice exams?

When to Take the NBME Practice Exams

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A medical school student taking an NBME practice exam in a library on her laptop.


Deciding when to take practice exams is a dilemma that many students face when preparing for USMLE Step 1. Practice NBME exams are undoubtedly one of the most useful and important resources you will use in your Step 1 preparation. They can help you assess your own readiness to pass...

7 Ways to Ace Your Psychiatry Shelf Exam

20 min


A medical student studying for her psychiatry shelf exam, wearing scrubs, in front of a laptop and textbooks.


After surviving a notoriously more rigorous clinical rotations like Internal Medicine and Surgery, many students find some relief in knowing that they are able to take a little breather on their Psychiatry service. The hours are more regular and your psychiatry shelf exam seems a bit less daunting and easier...

NBME 25- NBME 30: Which is the Best Predictor for Passing Step 1

8 min


Medical students taking their USMLE Step 1 exam in a classroom.


There are an incredible number of resources out there for Step 1 preparation. No one study approach will work for everyone or guarantee success. Whatever plan or resources you decide to use, everyone will need to use practice questions and practice exams. These help to really gauge how well they...

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