Bottom line: Understand and predict your shelf exam scores with NBME
As we mentioned in our Transitions discussion, it will be a great idea to practice taking shelf exams at the NBME website: https://nsas.nbme.org/home (which we also made into a Quick Link on the right under Phase II). To purchase a practice exam, select “Purchase Services” on the left hand menu after logging in. The shelf exams are found under the heading “Clinical Science Mastery Series” - there are two different practice exams for each rotation (again, nothing yet for Family Medicine, but for all other rotations there are practice exams).
To interpret the score you get on a practice shelf exam, follow these steps:
1. Get your Assessment Score. This is found on the report that you get right after completing an NBME practice exam, circled in red below.
2. Scroll down to get approximate subject exam score that corresponds to your assessment score - this is the raw score that NBME thinks you would have gotten if this had been your real shelf exam.
3. Open the Shelf Exam Score PDF (found on the SMRT Sharepoint site under Shared Documents -> Phase II folder or use this link). Use the approximate subject examination score as your raw score on this sheet. This will give you an approximate final grade for the course.
Note that the NBME specifically advises against using the practice exam scores for predicting your score on the real test day, and I agree that it would be wise not to take the example above, for instance, and assume that this student will get a 3 on their shelf exam. On the other hand, this process certainly helps me gauge approximately how much I need to panic about studying more.