What To Know About NBME Free Self-Assessments

Seven NBME free practice exams are now available to help students work on applying their medical knowledge to practical clinical scenarios in test-taking form. These free NBME Self-Assessments are available through September 30, 2020 and are essential for preparing for the USMLE Step exams. They are intended to help students continue to sharpen their knowledge during the testing delays arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

NBME Free Self-Assessments: What’s Included

The NBME Self-Assessments are geared towards evaluating your readiness for your USMLE Exams. They include the following:

1. Comprehensive Basic Science (CBSSA) Forms 13, 15, 16, 17, and 19

The CBSSA exams replicate the USMLE Step 1. All residency programs require applicants to have passed the USMLE Step 1 examination. The content on these exams consists of multiple-choice items based on information typically covered during basic science medical school courses. Note that five out of the seven free NBME Self-Assessments are for Step 1.

Considering the importance of your Step 1 score, make sure to use these exams wisely. You should thoroughly review each exam’s diagnostic feedback. You should understand the reasons for the correct response, as well as the incorrect options.  Make sure you can articulate a reason for why you are eliminating an answer choice while working through NBME practice exams.

2. Comprehensive Clinical Science (CCSSA) Form 7

The CCSSA exams are similar to USMLE Step 2 CK. These exams are multiple-choice items based on information typically covered during core clinical clerkships. They also resemble material that showed up on your NBME Shelf exams.

3. Comprehensive Clinical Medicine (CCMSA) Form 5

The CCMSA content resembles that of USMLE Step 3. Furthermore, it utilizes information that is typically covered in clinical encounters.

How to Use These Practice Exams for NBME

After ordering any of the free Self-Assessments, you will have 90 days to complete them. Once you take a practice NBME, you will have unlimited access to your interactive score report on MyNBME. You will also have the option to review each question, option set, and correct answer.

Make sure that you are using this review process in the right way. Really try to understand why each wrong answer is wrong, and why the right answer is right. Before making the decision to eliminate an answer choice, you should be able to state why it isn’t the correct answer. 

Take the time to focus on why you may have gotten a question wrong. Every student has test-taking patterns and missteps, that when identified, can be instrumental in improving testing performance. Use the NBME’s diagnostic feedback offered with our self-assessment services, as it highlights your areas of strength and weakness. Then you’ll be able to target your study plan going forward so you can perform well on your USMLE examinations.

How to Access These NBME Free Practice Exams

To access these NBME Free Self-Assessments, go to MyNBME.org and follow the below instructions:

(1) Enter your login information on the MyNBME sign-in screen that appears. If this is the first time you’re logging onto the site, you’ll need to select “First Time User”. You’ll then be guided to set up an account in the system.

(2) Once you are logged into NBME’s Homepage, use the “Product Search” to find the self-assessment that you’re looking for.

(3) Click on the name of the product, and select any form that is listed as “Free” – this includes:

  • USMLE Step 1: Comprehensive Basic Science (CBSSA) Forms 13, 15, 16, 17, and 19
  • USMLE Step 2 CK: Comprehensive Clinical Science (CCSSA) Form 7
  • USMLE Step 3: Comprehensive Clinical Medicine (CCMSA) Form 5

(4) Choose your preferred pace for taking the exam: standard or self-paced. Even if you select self-paced, you should still set time restrictions to answer each question. You don’t want to completely remove yourself from the thought processes you will need to exercise in a time-sensitive, test-taking environment.

However, you should see if you can still get the answer right without the EXACT time pressures that you will encounter on the day of the exam. Sometimes, it’s nice to see whether you know the medical/clinical knowledge (and can recall that info with a little more time). Alternatively, you may find that it is something you just don’t know. This would be a “blind spot” that you’ll need to revisit and review during your test prep.

(5) Click “Add to Cart” and then follow the on-screen prompts.

Treat NBME Free Practice Exams Like Gold!

These NBME practice exams provide you with questions DIRECTLY from the test writers. This is truly like gold! You get to study each question, including the way that the test writers formulate patient scenarios; write correct answer choices (as well as the incorrect, trick answer choices).

These tests help you to get into the test writers’ heads! Understanding how they think and write can prepare you for how they will include irrelevant facts in the question. You’ll also learn how they construct incorrect answer choices to try to stump you on test day. This will help you identify relevant facts in the questions with far more ease. Plus, it will prompt you to recognize wrong answer choices with more accuracy.

Take the NBME Practice Tests at the Beginning of Your Study Period

Taking the NBME free practice exams at the start of your dedicated study period helps you to find out your baseline. Don’t stress if the score is lower than you would like it to be. This is to be expected, and it’s the reason why you have dedicated study period! Going forward, use NBME’s as a “check” on where you stand every few weeks. You’ll be able to measure your learning and knowledge retention.

While NBMEs do not have explanations like UWorld, and it takes time to complete and review an NBME, it’s still worth it. NBME is the best USMLE study resource available that tells you exactly how you might perform on test day. So use it to your advantage to improve, re-tweak, and re-calibrate!

Taking an NBME Self-Assessment every few weeks will help make your study time more effective. It will also help to ensure that you are spending your time and energy in the right subject areas and topics. Use your diagnostic feedback report to re-tweak your study schedule and target your weaknesses.

Dedicate a Four-Hour Block for NBME Self-Assessments

Setting aside this time to take your NBME free practice exams will be fruitful. You want to use this opportunity to recreate the testing experience for yourself. On test day, you will want your brain and body trained to withstand test-taking conditions. So why miss using an NBME free Self-Assessment? The best part with these practice exams, is that you build your testing prowess! You will get a three-digit score telling you exactly where you are in the study process. You can then use that score to direct and improve your study plan going forward, and reach your goals.

But, you don’t need to prepare for your USMLE exams alone. Our Medlearnity tutors are available to assist you with your NBME test prep. So, reach out to us and let’s help you ace these exams!

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.

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