NBME logo
Date Updated: November 10, 2011

Description of Assessment Modalities

The Post-Licensure Assessment System (PLAS) has developed diverse, state-of-the-art assessment modalities that, taken together, generate pertinent data regarding a physician's medical knowledge, clinical judgment and patient management skills in his or her current or intended area of practice.

These tools are offered to and utilized by national collaborators to complement local, performance-based methods of assessment, such as medical record reviews, peer (preceptor) assessment and feedback, patient evaluations and case-based evaluations of physician care.

Standardized Testing

  • Primum® Computer-based Case Simulations (CCS) - A computerized patient management test developed by the NBME that utilizes a spectrum of patient cases including emergency situations, acute and chronic illness. The physician decides what treatment to begin while monitoring the patient's response throughout the case. The interactive computer format of CCS permits an assessment of patient management decision-making skills in a realistic and integrated manner. Physicians preparing for assessments that include CCS should run the CCS tutorial and practice with the sample CCS cases available at the USMLE website.

Personalized Testing

  • Transaction Stimulated Recall Interview - A structured interview based on a record of the physician-participant's actions in the Primum Computer-based Case Simulations. The physician-participant's performance and management choices are evaluated based on expectations of the particular cases administered.
  • Medical School Subject Examinations – Participants complete a subject exam specific to his or her specialty and practice area. These multiple choice question exams (MCQs) are available in the following clinical clerkship designations:
    • Internal Medicine
    • Family Medicine
    • General Surgery
    • Obstetrics & Gynecology
    • Pediatrics
    • Psychiatry
  • Practice-friendly Specialty Examinations - Participants complete one, two or three brief exams in their specialty. These multiple choice questions are written for practicing physicians and are available in:
    • Internal Medicine
    • Family Medicine
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Modular Knowledge Examinations - Participants complete a selected group of objective exams specific to his or her specialty and practice. Practice-specific tests are selected to best evaluate the physician's assessment needs. The results are used to identify possible deficiencies regarding knowledge in clinical areas.
    • Mechanisms of Disease
    • Interpreting the Medical Literature
    • Ethics and Communication
    • Pharmacotherapeutics with practice-friendly submodules in Ambulatory, In-patient, Behavioral, and Women's Health
    • Women’s Health Care

Contact Information

Post-Licensure Assessment System
National Board of Medical Examiners
3750 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104



I want to Learn More About...

NBME logo