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Date Updated: July 3, 2013

FAQs about the Self-Assessment Program


 

Answers to some of these questions are given in
greater detail in Self-Assessment Services Information Guide .


Open or close all answers

 

What content areas do the self-assessments cover?

Comprehensive Self-Assessments
The content areas covered by the comprehensive self-assessments (CBSSA, CCSSA and CCMSA) reflect those covered by USMLE® Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 3. The content categories on different forms of the same assessment category (CBSSA or CCSSA) may vary slightly due to the distribution of items in that particular form. Information about Steps 1, 2 CK and 3, including content descriptions, is available at the USMLE website.

Clinical Science Mastery Series
Built to the same content specifications as the NBME clinical science subject examinations, the web-based Clinical Science Mastery Series provides self-assessments for US and international medical students who want to assess their knowledge of the clinical sciences covered during a clerkship or medical education course.

International Foundations of Medicine Clinical Science Self-Assessment
Built to the same content specifications as the IFOM Clinical Science Examination (CSE), this web-based examination provides a self-assessment for international medical students who want to assess their knowledge of the clinical sciences in advance of taking the IFOM Clinical Science Examination.


Are there sample tests?

To access a sample self-assessment, visit the NBME Self-Assessment Services page. The items in the sample test are NOT the same as those in the Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 3 sample materials. The sample items are NOT duplicated in any of the forms. You will NOT generate a performance profile based on your answers in the sample test. The sample performance profile is a fixed profile example designed by the NBME.


Do the comprehensive self-assessments have the same sample materials as USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK and Step 3?

The sample items and materials are unique to CBSSA, CCSSA, and CCMSA and are NOT the same as the USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 3 materials.


What are the system requirements for the self-assessments?

The NBME Self-Assessment Services page requires:

  • Windows® XP, Windows Vista® or Windows 7
  • Macintosh (MAC) OS X
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8 or Internet Explorer 9 recommended
  • Safari 5.0 or higher
  • Adobe® Flash® Player 9.0 or higher
  • Color display set to 32-bit color
  • Resolution set to 800x600, for best results
  • Mouse
  • Headphones

Are the self-assessments different in regards to difficulty?

The scores reported for the NBME self-assessment examinations are statistically equated so that they are on the same scale and are directly comparable regardless of which form you take. The forms may differ slightly in difficulty, but equating adjusts for differences in difficulty and ensures that the score you receive will be comparable regardless of whether you took an easier form or a more difficult form.


Is there a paper and pencil version of the self-assessments?

No, the self-assessments are only provided in a web-based format. To preview a sample assessment before actually purchasing one, access the NBME Self-Assessment Services page and click Sample Assessment from the menu on the left. The Sample Assessment features a tutorial and practice items representing the content and format of those in the actual assessment.


When and where can I take the self-assessments?

The self-assessment service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can take the self-assessments on any computer with access to the Internet that meets system requirements.


What is the format of the self-assessments?

Comprehensive Self-Assessments
There are seven unique forms of the CBSSA, four unique forms of the CCSSA and two forms of CCMSA.

  • Each CBSSA form has 200 multiple-choice items divided into four sections of 50 items each, some of which have images. Six forms have an expanded feedback option.
  • Each CCSSA form has 184 items divided into four sections of 46 items each, some of which have images. Two forms have an expanded feedback option. At least one form features a multimedia item.
  • Each CCMSA form has 180 items divided into five sections of 36 items each, some of which have images. Two forms have an expanded feedback option.

All forms are scaled and equated to account for slight differences in difficulty.

Clinical Science Mastery Series
Clinical Science Mastery Series

  • Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Surgery

Each form has 50 multiple-choice items, some of which have images. Expanded feedback is only provided for self-assessments in the mastery series.

International Foundations of Medicine Clinical Science Self-Assessment
There is one unique form which has 80 multiple-choice items, some of which have images. Expanded feedback is only provided for IFOM self-assessments.


How much time is allotted to answer the items in each form of the self-assessments?

You can elect to take the self-assessments in either of the following timing modes:

Timing Modes
  Standard-Paced Self-Paced
CBSSA Four sections; up to 1 hour, 5 minutes to complete each section Four sections; up to 4 hours, 20 minutes to complete each section.
CCSSA Four sections; up to 1 hour, 3 minutes to complete each section Four sections; up to 4 hours, 12 minutes to complete each section.
CCMSA Five sections; up to 45 minutes to complete each section. Five sections; up to three hours to complete each section.
CS Mastery Series One section; up to 1 hour, 15 minutes to complete the section. One section; up to 5 hours to complete the section.
IFOM Two sections; 40 items. Up to 1 hour to complete the section. Two sections; 40 items. Up to 4 hours to complete the section.


Do I have to finish the self-assessment in one sitting?

No. The self-assessment can be paused at any time. When you resume/continue you will return to the section and item you were working in when you stopped. You will be able to continue working for the remainder of the time allotted for that section. For example, if you select standard-paced mode for a self-assessment that allows 60 minutes for a section, work for 30 minutes in a section, then pause, you will still have 30 minutes left to work in that section when you resume/continue. However, you must still complete the self-assessment within the original 20-day access period.


Can I take an assessment with and without the expanded feedback option?

Comprehensive Self-Assessments
Forms 7, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16 of the CBSSA are available for purchase with the expanded feedback option (there are no forms 8, 9, or 10). Forms 4 and 6 of the CCSSA is available for purchase with the expanded feedback option. Forms 2 and 3 of CCMSA are available for purchase with the expanded feedback option. You cannot switch from standard to expanded feedback (or vice versa) once you have begun your assessment. It is important to decide which version you want before you purchase your assessment.

Clinical Science Mastery Series
Expanded feedback is only provided for self-assessments in the Clinical Science Mastery Series. Standard feedback is not an option.

International Foundations of Medicine Clinical Science Self-Assessment
Expanded feedback is only provided for IFOM self-assessments. Standard feedback is not an option.

 

 

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