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The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Family Medicine Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge across a wide range of Family Medicine content, including health maintenance and common chronic care issues.

What is the Family Medicine Shelf Exam?

The Family Medicine Shelf Exam is comprised of 110 multiple-choice question items that aim to test student mastery of Family Medicine knowledge at the conclusion of the clerkship rotation.

What content does the Family Medicine Shelf Exam cover?

The Family Medicine Shelf Exam covers a broad scope of content relating to Family Practice across all ages – from infancy to adolescence to adulthood and beyond. The Family Medicine exam places a greater focus on the course of natural development from childhood to adulthood as compared to the Medicine exam. For example, be prepared to know about the unique developmental milestones reached by age 6 months, 12 months, 36 months and so on, as well as the natural course and distinguishing features of puberty and then normal versus pathologic memory changes with aging. There is also an emphasis on promoting health and health maintenance (ex. lifestyle adjustments, vaccinations). Even pregnancy questions are bound to pop up on the exam! Essentially no topic is off limits for the Family Medicine shelf.

How is the Family Medicine Shelf scored?

The Family Medicine Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the Family Medicine exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance on questions pertaining to various organ systems and general principles.

How is the Family Medicine Shelf Exam administered?

The Family Medicine Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Medicine Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology of conditions that affect all major organ systems.

What is the Medicine Shelf Exam?

The Medicine Shelf Exam is typically regarded as one of the toughest NBME Shelf Exams in conjunction with the Surgery Shelf Exam, primarily because there is a wide range of content covered and the questions often require students to have a deep understanding of the pathophysiology of conditions affecting every organ system. The Medicine Shelf Exam itself is a 110 multiple-choice question test that aims to assess student mastery of general Medicine knowledge at the conclusion of the Internal Medicine clerkship.

What content does the Medicine Shelf Exam cover?

The content covered on the Medicine shelf exam includes: immunologic disorders, hematologic disorders, neurologic disorders, cardiovascular disorders, pulmonary disorders, nutritional and digestive disorders, gynecologic disorders, renal/urinary/male reproductive disorders, musculoskeletal and skin disorders, and endocrine disorders. In comparison to the Family Medicine Shelf Exam, the Medicine exam focuses more on 1) understanding the pathophysiology, 2) establishing a diagnosis, and 3) making appropriate treatment decisions.

How is the Medicine Shelf scored?

The Internal Medicine Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the Internal Medicine exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.

How is the Medicine Shelf Exam administered?

The Internal Medicine Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface
either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Neurology Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge of diseases of the nervous system.

What is the Neurology Shelf Exam?

The Clinical Neurology Shelf Exam is a 110 multiple-choice question exam that is built to assess student mastery of the diagnosis and management of various neurologic conditions at the conclusion of the third year clerkship.

What content does the Neurology Shelf Exam cover?

The Neurology Shelf Exam covers a fairly narrow range of content that includes: mental disorders (i.e. psychiatry, albeit a minor portion of the exam), head trauma, cerebrovascular disease, central nervous system infections, metabolic and toxic (i.e. hepatic encephalopathy and drug-induced altered mental status), degenerative neurologic disorders, sleep disorders, and neuromuscular disorders.

How is the Neurology Shelf scored?

The Neurology Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the Neurology exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.

How is the Neurology Shelf Exam administered?

The Neurology Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The OB/GYN Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge of the specific conditions and diseases affecting women in all stages of life.

What is the OB/GYN Shelf Exam?

The OB/GYN Shelf Exam is a 110 multiple-choice question exam that aims to assess student mastery of the conditions and diseases affecting the female reproductive system across all ages.

What content does the OB/GYN Shelf Exam cover?

The OB/GYN Shelf Exam covers a broad range of content pertaining to female health and wellness. The content emphasized on the exam can be subdivided into Gynecology and Obstetrics, with both subjects being equally represented in questions. With respect to Gynecology, questions cover general health maintenance (ex. annual exams, pap smears – who should get them and how often, breast exams) in addition to the pathophysiology of breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical, and vaginal conditions. With respect to Obstetrics, questions cover general health maintenance in pregnancy (ex. first, second, and third trimester screenings; gestational diabetes; vaccine safety) in addition to the pathophysiology of disorders of pregnancy (ex. intrauterine growth restriction, placenta previa, placental abruption, preterm labor, and so on).

How is the OB/GYN Shelf scored?

The OB/GYN Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the OB/GYN Shelf Exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.

How is the OB/GYN Shelf Exam administered?

The OB/GYN Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Pediatrics Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge on the normal development of humans from birth to adulthood and the unique conditions and illnesses that can affect children at various stages of life.

What is the Pediatrics Shelf Exam?

The Pediatrics Shelf Exam is a 110 multiple-choice question exam built to assess student mastery of the illnesses, genetic conditions, and acquired conditions affecting children at the conclusion of the Pediatrics clerkship.

What content does the Pediatrics Shelf Exam cover?

The Pediatrics Shelf Exam covers a broad range of material including normal infant and child development (ex. developmental milestones, interpretation of growth charts, puberty, vaccine schedules) and the pathophysiology of conditions unique to the infant, child, and adolescent populations. For example, this can include questions on congenital infections, congenital heart defects, genetic disorders diagnosed on newborn screen, childhood tumors and cancers, and abnormal pubertal development to name a few.

How is the Pediatrics Shelf scored?

The Pediatrics Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the Pediatrics Shelf Exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.

How is the Pediatrics Shelf Exam administered?

The Pediatrics Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Psychiatry Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders and neurologic disorders.

What is the Psychiatry Shelf Exam?

The Psychiatry Shelf Exam is a 110 multiple-choice question exam that is used to assess student mastery of the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and neurologic disorders at the conclusion of the Psychiatry Clerkship.

What content does the Psychiatry Shelf Exam cover?

The Psychiatry Shelf Exam covers a narrow range of topics (similar to the Neurology Shelf Exam) due to the specialized nature of Psychiatry. Questions will typically focus on mental disorders including: disorders diagnosed in infancy, childhood, and adolescence (ex. ADHD, conduct disorder); substance-related mental disorders; schizophrenia and other psychoses; mood disorders (ex. depression, mania); anxiety disorders; somatoform disorders; and others (ex. factitious disorder, malingering).

How is the Psychiatry Shelf scored?

The Psychiatry Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the Psychiatry Shelf Exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.

How is the Psychiatry Shelf Exam administered?

The Psychiatry Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

The NBME Subject Examinations, commonly referred to as the NBME Shelf Exams, are a series of subject specific standardized tests administered after certain 3rd year rotations. The exams are used at virtually all LCME-accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Surgery Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge …

What is the Surgery Shelf Exam?

The Surgery Shelf Exam is a 110 multiple-choice question exam that aims to assess student mastery of the surgical management of a wide range of health disorders at the conclusion of the Surgery clerkship.

What content does the Surgery Shelf Exam cover?

The Surgery Shelf Exam is one of the most challenging shelf exams to prepare for and excel on due to the fact that the content tested is very unique and very broad. The exam itself does not focus on surgical techniques, but rather the decision making that goes into offering surgery; when surgery is indicated; the risks, benefits, and expected complications of various surgeries; appropriate resuscitation after trauma; and the utility of imaging (ex. X-ray, CT, and MRI) in surgical planning. The exam requires students to have a deep understanding of medicine and conditions affecting all organ systems first and foremost, in addition to an understanding of how surgery may play a role in the diagnosis and management of certain conditions.

How is the Surgery Shelf scored?

The Surgery Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. This is an adjustment from 2015 when scores used to be reported as a scaled score. Typically, there is a 2-3 day turnaround between when the shelf exam is submitted and when the scores for students become available, so do not be surprised if there is a several day delay in receiving your score from your institution. Similar to all other shelf exams, the Surgery Shelf Exam report will provide an in depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.

How is the Surgery Shelf Exam administered?

The Surgery Shelf Exam is administered via the NBME’s web-based interface either at your institution in a secure testing area or at a Prometric center. Expect that your test will be timed (typically 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete all 110 items) and proctored.

Receiving 1-on-1 help from an expert is always helpful. However, for some students, getting personalized help studying for one or more of their Shelf Exams is necessary in order to achieve their goals. We strongly encourage students who fit into one or more of the following categories to contact us and speak with our learning advisor to determine if tutoring is your best option for success.

Do not wait to contact us until you fail. Be proactive!

At Risk Students

  • If you historically have high test anxiety and/or are a poor standardized test taker, a couple tutoring sessions focused on strategy and wellness can be very beneficial to your success. In addition, if preparing for other medical exams was a traumatic experience for you, a tutor can help your Shelf Exam prep go smoother.
  • If you performed marginally on earlier Shelf Exams a tutor can help you bring up your scores for the remainder of your tests. Your Shelf Exam grades are considered secondary only to USMLE in evaluating a candidate for residency. Specifically, performing well on the Surgery and Medicine Shelf Exams can be critical in matching into a good residency program. As such, the importance of them can not be understated.
  • If you historically have poor time management skillsa Shelf Exam tutor can help hold you to a study plan and help you better prepare for your exam. Shelf Exams can be particularly difficult to study for since students often find themselves incredibly busy with their rotations. Despite the difficulty to find time to study for, Shelf Exams have become increasingly important in honors, high pass, and passing grade determination.
  • If you scored 60% or lower on the NBME Clinical Mastery Series (CMS)-we strongly advise working with a Shelf Exam tutor. The NBME CMS is designed to provide students with realistic practice questions for the Shelf Exams and performance feedback. As such, a low score on the NBME CMS can be a red flag indicating that a tutor might be a good idea to ensure success.

Previous Failures

  • If you have previously failed USMLE Step 1 or received a low score, If you have previously failed USMLE Step 1 or received a low score,

*Some medical schools have students do clinical rotations before taking USMLE Step 1. If this is your situation, we even more strongly advise working with a Shelf Exam tutor since you will not have a frame of reference for what to expect out of standardized medical school exams.

Proactive Students

  • If you worked successfully with a tutor for USMLE Step 1 and found the structure and support helpful, then a Shelf Exam tutor can likely help you in the same way.
  • If you are trying to achieve honors in your clinical rotations If you are trying to achieve honors in your clinical rotations.

Our rates start at $195 per hour. Some of our highly specialized and/or tutors who have been with Elite Medical Prep for a long time bill at a higher rate. However, rest assured that whatever tutor you choose to go with, you are getting the most Elite and professional Shelf Exam help available.

In addition, enjoy our Unused Hour Guarantee! All unused 1-on-1 tutoring hours are fully refundable

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