NBME 6, my 2 ¢

So I just finished taking NBME 6 and thought I’d write a little review on this form. First of all, I didn’t exactly make a very high score (see below), I barely passed. But I wasn’t very surprised. As I’ve only really been “studying” First Aid for the past week or so. So although everything looked familiar, I had a hard time recalling  information that I had encountered at one point or another. I made a few observations as I was taking the test:

1) No “spit it out” questions:

On average, I think there were about 6-10 questions on the entire exam that actually asked you to “recall” little minor details.

2) Immunology was tricky:

I was actually a little disappointed with my immunology performance. I consistently score in the low 90’s on uworld’s immunology blocks so I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the material. To my surprise, immuno was one of weak areas on the test. I thought the questions were very straight forward for immuno and I jumped at the answer choice as soon as I finished reading the question, without even looking at other options and I think that’s where I went wrong. So if you’re planning on taking this test, make sure you read all options as they have good, better and best options (i.e. there weren’t a lot of obviously wrong answers in the options).

3) Not a lot of Pharmacology

I was actually happy that there wasn’t a lot of pharmacology on this form as I haven’t started memorizing yet.

4) Pathology slides were heavily tested

So this was actually surprising…I expected to see histo slides of course but there were actually more gross specimen slides than anything. So they would show you *SPOILER ALERT* an image of a colon section with ulcerative colitis and expect you to know it. The stem of the question describes very broad type of s/s and then they throw the image at you…I felt like a lot of their slides were very similar to WebPath’s slides (http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/ORGAN.html#1) So that’s definitely a good place to start if you’re not very comfortable with such slides. Overall though, this subject was heavily tested on this form but the questions weren’t so “out of nowhere”.

6) Behavioral Science

Never been my cup of tea…in fact I haven’t touched this subject since I took ethics and biostats back in MDI/II so I’m not very surprised. The questions were fair though, nothing out of nowhere again.

7) General Principles of Health Disease

Not really sure what they mean by this section but I have an idea. Rumor has it that “disease prevention” type of questions are increasingly tested on the usmle…I’m certainly not comfortable with this subjects as 1) I have no “hands-on” clinical experience and 2) This section was completely ignored in medical schools. I’m actively searching for a book that covers the high yield principles on these topics.

8) Overall

I think it was doable and the FA/uworld combination should put you in a comfortable spot, provided that you have read the whole book and understood its content (not just memorized it).  There were some questions that weren’t on FA of course but not a lot and most were anatomy type of questions. I plan on reviewing the test possibly today or tomorrow.

9) What does this mean for me?

A 370 on the NBME means 191 on the real deal which is passing but its said that NBME scores have a standard deviation of +/- 10 points. So I’m still not out of the “danger zone”. Not what I wanted to see but at least now I know where I stand. I have a “valid” bench mark from which I can improve and track my progress. Here’s what I plan to do:

1) Continue going over FA

2) Continue doing uworld questions (I’m about 30% done)

3) Pray and have faith, it makes one fine pillow.

Till next time,



2 thoughts on “NBME 6, my 2 ¢

  1. i feel ya on this. There is a certain amount of wtf questions on NBME’s that you could not have prepared for. We just have to be able to guess/ reason our way to the right answers on those.

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