The Elite Difference is in the Details

There are several different Surgery Shelf Exam tutoring options available to students, so what makes Elite the best? When you sign up to work with an Elite Shelf Exam tutor, you are getting much more than access to our world-class MD tutoring services. 24/7 email support, a student success team, an organized custom curriculum, and our 100% unused hour refund guarantee are just a few of the reasons our students love us.

Schedule a Consult

Who Needs Surgery Shelf Exam Tutoring?

Receiving 1-on-1 help from a Surgery Shelf Exam tutor is always helpful, but it isn’t necessary for everyone. While a tutor may not be necessary for everyone, anyone who seeks additional support, wishes to improve their understanding of high-yield topics, or wants a structured study schedule can significantly benefit from our tutoring sessions. At Elite Medical Prep, we’re here to guide you every step of the way, helping you turn your aspirations into reality.

100% Online, Without Compromising Quality

As pioneers in the online tutoring industry for medical school exams, we've been teaching exclusively online for the past 10 years. Our teaching methodology is based on research in education and is custom-tailored to your needs as a student.

Learn More
Tutoring online

Work with Experts in Surgery

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 US and Canada, as well as many osteopathic medical schools, and approximately 25 international schools. The Surgery Shelf Exam is designed to test student knowledge on pharmacotherapy, intervention management, and diagnosis of conditions requiring surgical intervention across all systems of the human body.

Medical school exam

What is the Format of 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. Due to the wide coverage of topics, the Surgery Shelf exam is considered the most challenging and important of the Shelf Exams.


How is the Surgery Shelf Exam scored?

The Surgery Shelf, like all other shelf exams, is scored as a percentage correct out of all items. The Surgery Shelf Exam report will provide an in-depth analysis with a bar graph detailing your performance, broken down by topic.


How Long is the Surgery Shelf Exam?

The Surgery Shelf exam is 165 minutes. It can only be taken at authorized locations, testing centers, or on the campuses of some medical schools.

NBME Surgery Shelf Exam Information Resources for Students

Have a question about the Surgery Shelf Exam or the Shelf Exams in general? Visit the Elite Medical Blog for a collection of articles written by our MD and MD Candidate tutors covering a variety of popular topics.

Visit our Blog

Why Our Students Love Us

Additional FAQs about The NBME Surgery Shelf Exam

1). What Makes Up A Surgery Shelf Exam?

Students are expected to diagnose surgical patients and also manage their well-being and make decisions to further escalate their patient’s cases for intervention or management.


2). How Can I Prepare For My Surgery Shelf Exam?

The Surgery Shelf Exam is critical to academic success in order to land your desired residency spot. No matter what specialty you hope to go into, the likelihood is that the pressure to succeed on your shelf exams is stacking up.

Instead of trying to independently prepare for an exam that is sometimes difficult to predict, our team of expert tutors can give you guidance and point you in the right direction, so that when it’s time to take your NBME subject exams – and especially your Surgery Shelf Exam – you can enter with increased confidence.


3). How Do I Stay Calm For My Surgery Shelf Exam?

One important thing to remember before you take your exam is this: while the surgery shelf exam is considered difficult, most students do not find it as challenging as the USMLE Step 2 CK exam.

Entering through the doors of your surgery shelf exam isn’t the be-all, end-all to your career.

Showing your commitment to studying and excelling on this exam demonstrates a level of clinical excellence medical teams want, but don’t stress yourself out too much. Hopefully, knowing this will alleviate some of the pressure on your shoulders, and help keep you in the right mindset for success.


4). Who Decides If I Pass Or Fail My Surgery Shelf Exam?

The National Board of Medical Examiners (“NBME”) manages these exams. The organization ensures students and medical schools have a quality baseline to assess students accurately.


5). What Content Is Most Likely To Appear In The Surgery Shelf Exam?

The content most likely to appear on your surgery shelf exam includes:

  • Systems – The surgery shelf exam covers a range of organ systems, with a significant emphasis on gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, blood & lymphoreticular, nervous system & special senses, and multisystem processes & disorders. These areas collectively constitute approximately 45% to 70% of the exam’s questions.
  • Physician Tasks – Diagnosis-related questions constitute a substantial portion (50% to 60%) of the surgery shelf exam. These questions assess your knowledge of history, physical examination, diagnostic studies, and patient outcomes. Moreover, questions related to pharmacotherapy, intervention, and management contribute to around 30% to 35% of the exam, while the remaining 8% to 12% is dedicated to foundational science concepts.
  • Site of Care – The surgery shelf exam will present scenarios related to various care sites where patients might be treated. About 35% to 40% of the questions pertain to ambulatory care, followed by inpatient care at 30% to 35%, and emergency care, which constitutes 25% to 35% of the exam.
  • Patient Age – The surgery shelf exam covers a wide range of patient age groups. However, the majority of questions focus on patients between the ages of 18 and 65, making up approximately 60% to 70% of the content. You should also anticipate questions related to patients aged 66 and above, which account for around 20% to 25% of the exam. Additionally, a smaller percentage (8% to 12%) of questions will address pediatric cases involving children under the age of 18.


6). How Should I Start Studying For My Surgery Shelf Exam?

An Elite Medical Prep tutor can show you how to study for the Surgery Shelf Exam and, more importantly, how to achieve the highest score that you can. You’ll work with experts in the field on all aspects of surgical intervention.

Schedule a free consultation call now to learn how 1-on-1 tutoring can help you excel and impress your examiner.