Nbme Surgery Shelf Practice Exams

Related Articles

Online Meded Videos For The Surgery Sheld Exam

How To Prepare For The NBME Surgery Shelf Exam

Online MedEd is becoming a staple amongst medical students as a source of high-yield videos and study guides. While the Online MedEd videos will by NO means be comprehensive for the surgery shelf, they are very high-yield in providing you with practical information regarding the most common surgical procedures and emergencies. Just like our recommendation with the question banks, if you have time, we recommend watching both the medicine and surgery Online MedEd Videos.

Cracking The Nbme Shelf Exam: Surgery

The most important thing to realize about the NBME surgery shelf exam is that it’s not at all about the technical details of surgery, but rather the medical management of patients who had or need to have a surgical procedure. It could be described as a medicine shelf with a surgical flavor. To that end, the most important advice I can give is to know the purpose and indications of the surgery in question. For example, what is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy? When and why is it performed? You will not need to know much, if anything about the technical particulars, like location of incisions, suturing techniques, etc.

Without further ado, here’s a list of all the resources that I used to prepare for the shelf, in no particular order.

UWorld: UWorld for Step 2 CK only contains 135 surgery questions as of this writing, but if you haven’t already, get it anyway since it will be helpful for several other clerkships and of course, studying for Step 2 CK. The questions offer decent coverage of general surgery/abdominal stuff as well as trauma protocols – two areas that will certainly be on your actual shelf. Try to do at least 2-3 passes and make sure to hit all of your incorrects.

What Resources Are Best For Studying For The Surgery Shelf Exam

Although this is officially a surgery exam, its common for students to report that it felt more like the Medicine Shelf than they expected. This is because the exam doesnt just focus on what happens in the OR itself it includes pre-op and post-op patient management, as well as deciding whether a patient needs surgical care or not.

If youve already taken your medicine clerkship, that will help if not, then studying for the Surgery Shelf will help you later on the Medicine Shelf.

Management of trauma is another high-yield topic. Remember that a patient must be stable before you send them for any imaging studies. Focus on the most urgent aspects of the patients condition before you worry about making a detailed diagnosis.

Also Check: Life Insurance For Seniors Over 75 No Medical Exam

A Few Final Words Of Advice

At a bare minimum, you should use a question bank and the NBME practice tests. However, most of us also used a book , and some of us used the Online MedEd videos. Again, we cannot stress how important it is to start early there is a lot to cover and you will be very busy during your rotation. Best of luck!

What Question Formats Are On The Surgery Shelf Exam

Pediatrics Shelf Exam

As outlined in the NBME Guide to the Subject Examination Program, the following question formats will be on the exam:

Application of Knowledge

This exam will have an increased emphasis on the application of knowledge instead of the recall of isolated facts.


Questions are framed in the context of clinical vignettes.


This is the most widely used MCQ format. Each question is comprised of a focused item stem and a lead-in question, followed by a series of options with one correct answer for each item.

Extended Matching

These questions are organized into sets that use one list of options for all items in the set. Examinees must select one best answer.

Also Check: At Home Eye Exam For Prescription

Guide To The Surgery Shelf

Page Contents


This page is dedicated to discussing the core elements of the surgery shelf. The surgery shelf is one of the exams created by the National Board of Medical Examiners and it is administered to students by individual medical institutions.


While this was already introduced on the Standardized Exams For The Medical Student page there are a few key points to keep in mind when thinking about the surgery shelf exam.

What is the point of this exam?

The purpose of this exam is to try and assess ones mastery of the clinical knowledge learned during a medical students third year surgery clerkship. With this in mind, it is probably important to realize that much of the content that is covered on this exam wont necessarily come up in every surgery rotation, and requires dedicated studying on the part of the student .

When does one take the exam?

The surgery shelf exam is generally scheduled to be taken in a students third year in medical school, at the end of their surgery block rotation.

What is the format of the exam?

The surgery shelf is 110 questions long , and students are given 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete each exam. Looking at the official NBME document here this information can be found under the Clinical Science Disciplines Section.

How is the exam graded?


Ask For Advice From Others

Unless surgery is your very first clerkship, youll likely have some friends who went through it before you did. You can ask their advice on studying for the test, but be wary of their specific subject suggestions.

Recall bias makes it easier to remember the questions that felt more difficult to you, so if they say that a certain topic was overemphasized, that doesnt necessarily mean that it actually was it might have just felt that way.

Still, it can be very useful to help each other out some students even trade books or other study resources as they switch clerkships. MS4s and residents can also be valuable sources for information about the exam.

Don’t Miss: How Many Questions Are On The Cosmetology State Board Exam

Nbme Questions And Answers Pdf

The neurology shelf exam is regarded as one of the easier shelf examinations by many medical students because it does not cover such a vast range of topics when compared to other subject tests. We propose taking our free NBME Clinical Neurology Test if youre looking for NBME clinical mastery series PDF.

The Psychiatry Shelf Exam is regarded as one of the easier of the Shelf Exams. Honoring as many rotations as possible can undoubtedly help if youre pursuing a very competitive residency program. If youre looking for NBME psych form 5 PDF or NBME psychiatry form 3 PDF, youve come to the right place. To help you prepare for the exam, we provide the NBME Psychiatry Test.

The NBME Internal Medicine Shelf Exam is difficult, especially when it takes place during your internal medicine clerkship. This exam measures a students grasp of general medicine concepts and their application to adult patients. If youre looking for NBME medicine form 5 PDF or NBME medicine form 1 PDF, youve come to the right place. For the greatest preparation, we recommend taking the NBME Medicine Test.

How Can You Create A Study Schedule For Your Surgery Shelf Exam

Divine Intervention Episode 30-Comprehensive 3rd Year Medicine NBME Shelf Review Session 2

The surgery rotation tends to be one of the busiest in terms of the number of hours spent in a clinical setting. We definitely recommend scrubbing into as many surgeries as you can, and participating actively in the care of as many patients as possible. These experiences will help you learn in a lasting way, since youll have direct experience with the information. Dont miss out on any clinical experiences in order to have more study time.

At the same time, this rotation can be one of the most difficult in terms of finding time to study. Youll need to be diligent from Day 1 about spending some of your spare time studying each day. At times, you may find it impossible to stick to your study schedule because you simply get too busy with patients.

It helps to decide upon an amount of studying that youll do per day for example, a number of UWorld questions, or a number of pages in a textbook. This gives you a goal to aim for. If you happen to fall short on one day, just make up for it on a different day. Be flexible and dont get overwhelmed, but also stay dedicated to your Surgery Shelf Exam test preparation.

Because theres so much overlap between the Medicine and Surgery Shelf Exams, students who have already done their medicine rotations tend to do better on the Surgery Shelf Exam .

Read Also: How Many Question Are On The Real Estate Exam

Nbme Surgery Shelf Exam Prep And Readiness

Surgery Shelf practice questions are a great way to make sure youre ready for the exam, especially if youre scoring higher than your peers. We make sure that every question tracks how well others are doing so that you make sure you meet the percentile threshold. We also offer a pass guarantee on all of our shelf exam question banks.

Surgery in general is not a harder exam than the other shelf exams. Like many of the shelf exams, there is an emphasis on next best questions… focus a portion of your study time on the next best action to take. Several of the physicians we interviewed indicated that it was their easiest exam. Its 100 MCQ, and youre given 130 minutes, so youll need to move quickly, and a couple of physicians ran out of time in the process.

Emp Surgery Shelf Exam Tutoring

Finally, if you are looking for some extra help with your surgery, any other shelf exam, or any other medical exam , Elite Medical Prep is here to help! Enlisting the help of a tutor will be the best way to get customized help based on your personal needs, progress, and goals. For more information, schedule a free consultation call here!

Recommended Reading: Where To Take Az-900 Exam

Dr Pestanas Surgery Notes

This book is a very quick and easy read, and it will walk you through 180 different surgical vignettes and highlight the most important and high-yield material you need to know regarding common surgical cases. There are also some practice questions at the end of the book which are derived from the content of the book. We recommend reading this early in your rotation as it will come in handy on any surgical service you rotate through, in addition to the shelf.

The Nbme Surgery Shelf Exam

Ewing Sarcoma

The NBME® Surgery Shelf is a case-based exam that tests students on their ability to diagnose and manage surgical patients, including determining when surgical management is required. It can cover a broad range of topics, including relevant cases from Ob-Gyn, Medicine, and Pediatrics.

Looking for a new Surgery Shelf resource?Study with AMBOSS.

Also Check: What Do You Need To Pass The Bar Exam

Surgery: A Case Based Clinical Review By Christian De Virgilio

This textbook is commonly recommended to medical students as a resource to use during their surgery shelf. While this is a fairly comprehensive resource, it is not the most efficient way to learn the content you need to succeed on your shelf exam. However, if you are a budding surgeon, this may be a great read for you as it will provide you with a detailed description of the most common surgical cases . This is a fantastic resource for any student, but again, it is not the most efficient way to learn the material.

You Might Also Want To Consider Seeking Professional Advice

Here at Medlearnity, each of our Surgery Shelf Exam tutors has scored 250+ on Step 2 CK, and is extremely well prepared to help you get ready for your Surgery Shelf Exam. Being guided by someone who has successfully navigated this process can be extremely valuable, helping to relieve stress and ensure that your study plan is as effective as possible.

Its often difficult to find much time to study during the surgical rotation, so ensuring that youre efficient and that you stay on track is key. If you want to see what it would be like to learn with a tutor, you can try out a free one-hour tutoring session.

About the author

Akshay Goel MD

Dr. Goel is a body-trained radiologist and an expert in medical education and imaging informatics. He completed his Radiology Residency at Columbia University Medical Center and his fellowship at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Goel has guided several students and doctors into successful careers over the past decade. He continues to help Medlearnity tutors optimize their educational methodology to drive the highest tutoring and admissions impact possible.

You may also like

Recommended Reading: Ccfp Certified Cyber Forensics Professional All In One Exam Guide

Practice Tests From The Nbme For The Surgery Shelf Exam

The most accurate predictor of your success on the actual surgery shelf exam will come from the practice NBME. At the time this blog post was written, there are currently four practice tests you can purchase for $20.00 each. Each exam is 50 questions and designed to mimic your actual shelf exam. These are great to complete midway through and at the end of your surgery rotation so you can assess and refine your progress throughout the entire duration of your studying.

Taking The Surgery Shelf Exam

(NEW video in description) NBME Shelf Exams – Objective Approach (Part 1)

Not all students have to take the NBME Surgery Shelf Exam, and itâs not obligatory for obtaining a U.S. doctorâs license. However, most medical schools have a required surgery clerkship, and the most popular way to test students is by using the NBMEâs official Clinical Science Surgery Subject Examination. Students should note: the exam can only be taken at authorized testing locations, like Prometric test centers or on campus at select medical schools.

The exam is formatted as an online test consisting of 110 multiple choice questions which must be completed in 165 minutes. Luckily for students, it has the same interface as the USMLE Step exams, with each question set up as a vignette. The exam is graded on a national average, though whether or not you pass your surgery clerkship will depend on your individual medical schoolâs requirements. More specifically, the number of correct answers you get places you in a percentile, which is then measured across national grades.

The Surgery Shelf will test students on how they determineâbased on a diagnosisâwhether a patient needs surgery, as well as the medical management of surgical patients.

Many conventional sources tend to offer only a meager amount of practice Qbank surgery questions, however, new digital funds of medical knowledge are now available for students to study with.

You May Like: Low Cost Eye Exam And Glasses

Studying For Third Year Nbme Shelf Exams

Chances are, your third-year clerkship grades will hinge more on your NBME Shelf exam scores than on your clinical evaluations. The strategy I advocate is to come off of Step 1 strong by immediately shelling out for the UWorld Step 2 question bank for the entire year. Do the questions for each rotation.1And by do them, I mean do all of them while carefully reading the explanations. Mark all questions you guess on or get wrong and do those again. Rinse and repeat. Take your shelf exams, nervously wait 1-3 weeks for your scores to come back, and soldier on. Then at the end of third year, reset it so you can start fresh and use it to study for Step 2 CK. If youve studied for and done well on your shelf exams, UW and Wikipedia should basically be sufficient for Step 2 CK, which for at least the near future will be an extremely important non-pass/fail exam. The best way to perform well on Step 2 CK is to also prepare for and do well on your shelf exams.

While UW is, I believe, indispensable for several of the shelf exams, it is not sufficient. There are also a variety of online-based curriculum replacements that one can use for longitudinal learning during third year. But for book people, heres how I would approach each clerkship:

First Aid for the Psychiatry Clerkship is your must-read. Its extremely quick, readable, and hits everything. You can read this book in a day if you want to its that short.



Internal Medicine

Family Medicine

Nbme Medicine Subject Examination

For assessing internal medicine knowledge, some institutions develop their own examinations for use in the clerkship. However, the majority of clerkships in the U.S. use the National Board of Medical Examiners Medicine Subject Examination as an end-of-clerkship examination. Because this exam is not developed locally and is obtained from the NBME off-the-shelf, it is commonly referred to as the shelf exam. The NBME produces a series of subject examinations across different disciplines, so you will likely encounter similar style exams in use in your other third-year clinical rotations.

Scores from the Medicine Subject Examination are reported to your clerkship director. Both individual student scores and summary scoring information for all of the students taking the exam at your school are provided. Scores on the Medicine Subject Examination are statistically equated, meaning that the reported scores will have the same meaning for all students even though they may have been given different versions of the same examination at different locations. Equating makes scores comparable across schools, and also allows your clerkship director to see how you and your classmates performed relative to other schools and with different classes over time. Information from the shelf examination can also help your clerkship director ensure that what is being tested on the exam is being covered in the clerkship curriculum.

Recommended Reading: Lenscrafters How Much For Eye Exam

How Can You Prepare For Your General Surgery Shelf Exam

The general surgery clerkship is known for being one of the most challenging rotations for third-year medical students. It often requires long hours on the wards and in the OR, with relatively frequent calls.

After weeks of this , you will then be faced with the Surgery Shelf Exam, which has a reputation as being one of the more challenging Shelf Exams.

This exam is generally a significant component of honoring your surgery rotation. Those who are considering a residency in a surgical field, or those who plan to apply to competitive residency programs and therefore want to honor as many rotations as possible, will definitely want to do well on this exam.

Popular Articles