Which NBME Practice Exam Forms Should You Take for Your USMLE Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 and Clerkship Updated

Which NBME Practice Exam Forms Should You Take for Your USMLE Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 and Clerkship

Below is a complete list of all forms available this year for the USMLE NBME self-assessment and practice exams for USMLE Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 offered by the NBME and some guidance on using them in your study preparation.

  • Step 1 practice exams are termed: Comprehensive Basic Science Exams
  • Step 2 practice exams are termed: Comprehensive Clinical Science Exams
  • Step 3 practice exams are termed: Comprehensive Clinical Medicine Exams
  • Clerkship practice exams are termed: Clinical Science Mastery Exams

Changes to the NBME Self – Assessment Service

According to the NBME site, all the CBSSA Forms will provide examinees with the correct answers for questions they have answered incorrectly as part of the expanded feedback for the NBME Self-Assessment Services. This enhancement will be available for the following:

• Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA)

• Comprehensive Clinical Science Self-Assessment (CCSSA)

• Comprehensive Clinical Medicine Self-Assessment (CCMSA)


For more information, see the NBME site/announcement here.

Step 1 NBME Advice

“On March 25, three new CBSSA forms (20, 21, and 22) were released on the NBME site and five forms (13, 15, 16, 17, and 19) were retired. Form 18 is still available for purchase. Examinees who purchased the aforementioned forms before March 25 will still have 90 days from date of purchase to complete their self-assessment." 

Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment contains four sections of 50 items; 200 total multiple-choice items. Item formats are similar to USMLE Step 1. Standard-Paced provides up to 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete each section.  Self-Paced provides up to 5 hours to complete each section however, in order build stamina, we recommend trying to complete 50 questions in hour.

Since all but NBME #18 have been retired, the following advice is what we have found most helpful to students. Take Forms 18 last as this assessment is a good score and content indicator. We suggest you take these during your intensive review period to help determine if you are ready to take Step 1. Currently, we do not have any student feedback on CBSSA Form 20, 21, 22 at this time.




USMLE Step 1 NBME Assessments

Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA) Price (USD) each
Comprehensive Basic Science w/ Expanded Feedback (Forms 18, 20, 21, 22) $60


 USMLE Step 2 NBME Advice

Based on student feedback, we recommend taking all three forms from oldest to newest.

USMLE Step 2 NBME Assessments

Comprehensive Clinical Science Self-Assessment (CCSSA) Price (USD) each
Comprehensive Clinical Science w/ Expanded Feedback (Forms 6, 7, and 8) $60


Shelf Exams

When preparing for Shelf Exams while on third and fourth year rotations, we recommend taking the following forms to prepare for each Shelf Exam. These assessments contain 50 multiple choice questions similar to the Clinical Science subject tests.

Subject based Assessments to prepare for Shelf Exams

Self-Assessments for Subject Exams or Clinical Sciences Price (USD) each
Clinical Neurology Self-Assessment (Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4) $20
Emergency Medicine Self-Assessment (Form 1) $20
Family Medicine Self-Assessment (Forms 1, and 2) $20
Medicine Self-Assessment (Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4) $20
Ob/Gyn Self-Assessment (Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4) $20
Pediatrics Self-Assessment (Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4) $20
Psychiatry Self-Assessment (Forms 1, 3, and 4) $20
Surgery Self-Assessment (Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4) $20


 Step 3 NBME Advice

We recommend taking an NBME at the beginning of your study period to make decisions about your board preparation goals. We have a blog on USMLE Step 3: Preparing for Computer-Based Case Simulations that will assist you in understanding and preparing for Computer-based Case Simulations.


Comprehensive Clinical Medicine Self-Assessment (CCMSA) Price (USD)
Comprehensive Clinical Medicine Self-Assessment w/ Expanded Feedback (Forms 4, 5-New) $60


About DIT Advising Team

The Doctors In Training Student Advising Team offers many advisory services including the following: customizing individual study plans for USMLE Step 1/ COMLEX Level 1 or USMLE Step 2 CK/ COMLEX Level 2, advising students with respect to combating everyday stress and test anxiety and preparing students for the residency application process.
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