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Date Updated: June 4, 2013

Comprehensive Self-Assessment Services

The NBME offers three web-based self-assessments to medical students and graduates evaluating their readiness to take USMLE:

  • Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA)
    The CBSSA uses multiple-choice items based on information typically covered during basic science medical education courses. The content of the CBSSA items resembles the content of those in Step 1 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®).
  • Comprehensive Clinical Science Self-Assessment (CCSSA)
    The CCSSA uses multiple-choice items based on information typically covered during the core clinical clerkships. The content of the CCSSA items resembles the content of those in Step 2 CK of the USMLE.
  • Comprehensive Clinical Medicine Self-Assessment (CCMSA)
    The CCMSA uses information typically covered in clinical encounters. The content of the CCMSA items resembles the content of those in the multiple-choice component of Step 3 of the USMLE.

NBME research demonstrates that under certain circumstances there is a moderate relationship between performance on the CBSSA and CCSSA and subsequent Step 1 or Step 2 CK. US and International medical students and graduates may find these self-assessments to be valuable tools as they prepare for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK.

Performance Feedback

Participants will receive a performance profile and a score interpretation guide immediately after completing a self-assessment. The performance profile provides an assessment score and graphically displays relative strengths and weaknesses in general topic areas. These profiles are similar to those that candidates receive for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3. The score interpretation guide allows participants to “translate” an assessment score to an approximate corresponding Step 1 or Step 2 CK total score. The NBME does not warrant that any individual performance on these self-assessments will predict performance on Steps 1 or 2 CK and cautions participants against making any predictive inferences.

Participants have the option to receive expanded feedback in addition to a performance profile. When participants acquire a self-assessment with expanded feedback, they receive a report which includes the number of items answered incorrectly by content category and the ability to review the text of incorrectly answered items. Correct answers are not provided as a part of the review.

When participants take multiple self-assessments, they receive longitudinal feedback which allows them to track their performance progress across all content areas. Longitudinal performance profiles are included for the six most recently completed exams.



Essential Information

Please see the table below for essential information about these self-assessments. Additional details are provided in the NBME Self-Assessment Services Information Guide.

  CBSSA CCSSA CCMSA
Format Seven forms: 200 multiple-choice items each. Six forms have an expanded feedback option. Four forms: 184 multiple-choice items each. Two forms have an expanded feedback option. Two forms: 180 multiple-choice items. Item formats are similar to those used in Step 3. Two forms have an expanded feedback option.
Standard-Paced Four sections, 50 items each. Up to 1 hour, 5 minutes to complete each section. Four sections, 46 items each. Up to 1 hour, 3 minutes to complete each section. Five sections; 36 items each. Up to 45 minutes to complete each section.
Self-Paced Four sections; 50 items each. Up to 4 hours, 20 minutes to complete each section. Four sections, 46 items each. Up to 4 hours, 12 minutes to complete each section. Five sections; 36 items each. Up to 3 hours to complete each section.
Access & Assessment Self-Assessments are delivered over the Web. You must log on to access a self-assessment and start it within 30 days (access period). Once the self-assessment is started, you must complete it within 20 days. You may sign off and resume/continue the self-assessment at any time during this 20-day administration period.
Fees These self-assessments are available for a fee of $50.00 in US currency ($60.00 for the expanded feedback option). Payment is non-refundable.

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