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Date Updated: September 29, 2017

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?

Information about the topics covered in each Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 3 content area is available in the following:

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 is validated for use with these system requirements

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 one form of CCMSA.

  • Each CBSSA form has 200 multiple-choice items divided into four sections of 50 items each, some of which have images.
  • Each CCSSA form has 184 items divided into four sections of 46 items each, some of which have images. 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.

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

Clinical Science Mastery Series

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

Each form has 50 multiple-choice items, some of which have images.

International Foundations of Medicine Clinical Science Self-Assessment
There is one unique form which has 80 multiple-choice items, some of which have images.

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 standard-paced or self-paced. Click on a self-assessment below to view a table with timing information and other details.

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.



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