New Video Series Helps Medical Students Understand Test Questions

Posted November 23, 2020
  • Review real, recently retired test questions
  • Gain insights from NBME physicians who authored cases and questions
  • Understand how other medical students review test questions when determining a response

Throughout this year, NBME has released episodes of Unlocking Assessment: Keys to Understanding Test Questions, a new video series to help medical students and residents better understand NBME test questions. Episode 4, which focuses on Endocrinology (Diabetes), is now available for viewing.

Featuring medical students interacting with NBME staff physicians, Miguel Paniagua, MD, and Thomas Rebbecchi, MD, each video spotlights an example test question for an interactive discussion about how exam items are created. The videos also illustrate how question authors analyze a clinical scenario when creating content for NBME exams. All episodes are available for viewing below.

To read more of this story, scroll beyond the videos. 


Endocrinology (Diabetes)






Obstetrics and Gynecology



Gastrointestinal System


Developed by NBME, the videos provide valuable information for examinees seeking to understand how to best demonstrate their clinical knowledge on NBME exams such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), NBME® Subject Examinations, medical school exams created using the NBME Customized Assessment System, and International Foundations of Medicine® exams.

A variety of fourth year students from medical schools around the United States appear in each episode. They participate in interactive, clinical decision-making discussions so others can learn directly from the resources of NBME.

Dr. Paniagua believes the video series can serve as an important resource for students as they continue their medical education in an era of social distancing and beyond.

“We felt compelled to reach out to students and provide a forum where they can learn about how patient scenarios are conceived for NBME exams. Plus, students and residents can gain insights for how to approach these questions,” Paniagua said. “We hope these virtual ‘attending rounds’ contribute to interactive learning during the pandemic.”

At the beginning of each episode, the student panel is presented with a multiple-choice question previously used in actual assessments. Following students’ discussion about the answer options, Drs. Rebbecchi and Paniagua analyze the clinical scenario from the point-of-view of a practicing physician. Then, the doctors share skills with the participants on determining the best possible response with clinical decision-making in mind.

“Once the correct answer is revealed, the group discusses what medical knowledge or competency the question was designed to test, and how those learnings apply to an actual clinical encounter,” Dr. Tom Rebbecchi said.

The series’ small group structure delivers answers to questions frequently asked by medical students about exams and test question development as well as the relevance to clinical education and learning.

To view all available episodes, you can also visit NBME's Learning Resources page.


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