Mobile App for NBME Surgery Shelf Exam Review Questions and Practice Flashcards

surgery shelf nbme exam

Key NBME Surgery Shelf Exam Review Features


NBME Surgery Shelf Exam Board Review Topics Covered:


Alimentary Tract


Skin and Soft Tissue

Surgical Critical Care


Pediatric Surgery






NBME Surgery Shelf Exam Info

As outlined by the NBME, the Subject Exams are designed to provide institutions with effective evaluation tools and useful examinee performance data that can be compared with a large representative group of examinees at the same stage of training.

What content is covered on the NBME Surgery Shelf Exam?

According to the NBME Clinical Science: Surgery content outline, the following topics are covered on the exam:

General Principles 1%–5%

Organ Systems

  • Immunologic Disorders 1%–5%
  • Diseases of the Blood and Blood-forming Organs 5%–10%
  • Diseases of the Nervous System and Special Senses 5%–10%
  • Cardiovascular Disorders 10%–15%
  • Diseases of the Respiratory System 10%–15%
  • Nutritional and Digestive Disorders 25%–30%
  • Gynecologic Disorders 5%–10%
  • Renal, Urinary, and Male Reproductive System 5%–10%
  • Disorders of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Puerperium 1%–5%
  • Disorders of the Skin and Subcutaneous Tissues 1%–5%
  • Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue 5%–10%
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 5%–10%

Physician Tasks

  • Promoting Health and Health Maintenance 1%–5%
  • Understanding Mechanisms of Disease 20%–25%
  • Establishing a Diagnosis 45%–50%
  • Applying Principles of Management 25%–30%

What question formats are on the NBME Surgery Shelf Exam?

As outlined in the NBME Guide to the Subject Examination Program, the following question formats will be on the exam:

Application of Knowledge

This exam will have an increased emphasis on the application of knowledge instead of the recall of isolated facts.


Questions are framed in the context of clinical vignettes.

Single-best-answer (A-type)

This is the most widely used MCQ format. Each question is comprised of a focused item stem (e.g., a clinical vignette) and a lead-in question, followed by a series of options with one correct answer for each item.

Extended Matching (R-type)

These questions are organized into sets that use one list of options for all items in the set. Examinees must select one best answer.

NBME Surgery Shelf Exam Resources

Use ABSITEAssassin for surgery and reading this during your first two weeks of your surgery rotation. This will help form your base of surgery knowledge you need to know. The app does not cover everything you’ll need to know for the shelf, it’s just a very good overview and a great tool to develop your own surgery review question bank. 

During your last weeks try to go through ABSITE Assassin 2-3 more times. It’ll be much easier to skim this time around. The information will also click much better since you’ve been exposed to several weeks of surgery by this point, in additional to the questions you add to your own database.

Surgery Shelf practice questions in a mobile app that allows medical students to


While this was already introduced on the Standardized Exams For The Medical Student page there are a few key points to keep in mind when thinking about the surgery shelf exam.

What is the purpose of this exam?

The motivation behind this exam is to test one’s authority of the clinical information picked up amid a therapeutic understudy’s third year surgery clerkship. Because of this, it is likely imperative to understand that a great part of the substance that is secured on this exam won’t really come up in each surgery rotation, and requires devoted examining (particular to the exam) with respect to the understudy (read more beneath in regards to suggested assets).

At the point when does one take the NBME Surgery Shelf Exam?

The surgery shelf exam is for the most part planned to be taken in an understudy’s third year in medicinal school, toward the finish of their surgery block pivot.

What is the arrangement of the NBME Surgery Shelf Exam?

The surgery shelf is 110 addresses long (all vignette based numerous decision, with differing quantities of answer decisions), and understudies are given 2 hours and 45 minutes to finish each exam. Looking at the authority NBME report here this information can be found under the “Clinical Science Disciplines Section”.

The clinical surgery shelf exam’s details can be found here in the official NBME documents (image source)

Currently these exams are offered in either paper or electronic organizations. The specifics of this change by the establishment overseeing the exam (albeit gradually more projects are progressing to furnishing understudies with electronic adaptations of these rack exams).

How is the exam evaluated?

The NBME at first will ascertain a target crude score for every exam. This is contrasted with the national exam for every particular exam (at the time it was taken) and converted into a national rate for every understudy (i.e. how every understudy looks at among all the diverse analyzers all through the country who have taken a similar exam).


It is critical to understand that there is dependably subjectivity when choosing which assets one should use for the rack exams. In this segment the objective is to attempt and lay out the most dispassionately helpful assets that apparently ought to be considered by ALL students getting ready for their surgery shelf exam:

This Website ( It is essential to understand that a huge component for making this site was to make assets for restorative understudies to help make getting ready for the institutionalized exams (like the rack exam) considerably simpler. A significant part of the substance on here has been made amid the way toward getting ready for the surgery shelf exam, and is on a very basic level valuable in helping understudies get ready for the test.

Stepwards is here for you! Make a point to use the substance on this site as you are getting ready for your surgery shelf exam.

Here are a couple of particular areas of the site that are particularly “high return” for neurology shelf examining:

USMLE Content Outline (finish outline): much of the substance that is recorded on this authority USMLE layout additionally covers with what is tried on the surgery shelf exam. The surgery shelf traverses a wide range of segments of this substance layout.

Document of institutionalized exam questions (finish archive): This page is committed to arranging different cases of institutionalized exam inquiries BY THE TOPIC THEY ARE ASKING ABOUT. While this may appear an odd practice, it is valuable to see multiple examples of how certain topics will be portrayed on institutionalized exams. The reason for this document isn’t to fill in as an inquiry bank, however rather as a productive examination apparatus used to acquaint oneself with the substance of the exam.

Official NBME Practice Examinations: these exams are made by the testmakers of the rack exam. On a very basic level it is difficult to come up for a motivation behind why an understudy would not take these exams as planning for the surgery shelf. They are in an indistinguishable organization from the genuine article (since they are resigned inquiries from past rack exams). No other asset approaches in creating questions that speak to the real exam precisely.

The NBME is the association that is in charge of making the surgery shelf exam, and it merits investigating the training tests that they offer understudies (source)

The following are some key focuses to acknowledge when considering these NBME rehearse exams:

Where to discover them: To discover the NBME rehearse exams sign into their self evaluation website and look under the “Clinical Science Mastery Series” where the surgery exams will be recorded.


Dr. Pestanas Surgery Notes: this book accumulates many short clinical vignettes that are usually spoken to on the surgery rack exam. The vignettes are isolated by general themes. It is a short and to the point assets that will in all likelihood cover addresses that will appear on the rack exam. This book can be found here.

UWorld Step 2 CK Question Bank: it is critical to understand that this inquiry bank isn’t made by the testmakers of the rack exam. In view of this, it is reasonably generally acknowledged as being useful in planning for the rack exams. The inquiries are intended to test in arrangement for the Step 2 CS exam, however a significant part of the substance is exceptionally important for the rack exams.

This question bank can be found here.


The company UWorld has made a name for itself by preparing students for various standardized exams. Its Step 2 materials are commonly used to prepare for shelf exams (source)


While the rest of the resources listed below can all be very useful, it is important to realize that it is really not practical to purchase and read through them all. Every student needs to be true to their own learning style and invest in the books that are tailored to their educational needs. Below are some resources that are worth considering.

NMS Surgery Casebook: this book organizes various clinical cases that are geared towards preparing students for their clinical rotations as well as USMLE Step 2. Given that the Step 2 exam and the surgery shelf have significant overlap it is also commonly used to prepare for this test. This book can be found here.

Case Files Surgery: this book is unique in that it uses “real-life” surgery cases to help teach students in the context of patient presentations. It also features review questions that are aimed to replicate the USMLE board format. This book can be found here.

Pre Test Surgery: this resource is interesting in that it is entirely composed of hundreds of questions that aim to replicate the USMLE board question style format. These questions are organized by surgery subtopic (i.e. “Trauma And Shock”) and each question has a robust answer explanation. This book can be found here.