NBME Family Medicine Shelf Exam Review Questions and Practice Tests

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“This Q-bank is awesome. When I used this bank for the first time, I said to myself 'oh wow' because I was missing little bits and pieces which I filled in with BoardVitals. These questions are hard but very similar to questions on NBME exams. I would strongly recommend BoardVitals for everyone who is studying for Step 1, 2, 3 and shelf exams. I used this bank for Step 1, and right now I'm using it for Step 2 and for my upcoming Internal Medicine shelf exam.”

Nadia Badar
Medical Student

gold key Key Board Review Features


Family Medicine Shelf Exam Board Review Topics Covered:

  • Pediatrics
  • Infectious Disease
  • Nutrition
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Neurology
  • Allergy and Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Eye
  • Ethics
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Psychiatry
  • Pulmonary / Critical Care
  • Nephrology
  • Rheumatology / Orthopedics
  • Endocrinology / Metabolism
  • OB/GYN
  • Statistics / Study Design
  • Ear, Nose, Throat
  • Geriatrics and Palliative
  • Muscuoskeletal and Sports Medicine
  • Ambulatory Medicine

About the NBME Family Medicine Shelf Exam (Subject Exam)

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 Family Medicine Shelf Exam?

According to the NBME Clinical Science Family Medicine Modular content outline, the following topics are covered on the Core portion of the exam:

Distribution Across Age Groups

  • Childhood 5%–15%
  • Adolescence 5%–10%
  • Adulthood 65%–75%
  • Geriatric 10%–15%

General Principles 10%–15%

  • Infancy and childhood (normal growth and development)
  • Adolescence (sexuality, separation from parents/autonomy; puberty)
  • Senescence (normal physical and mental changes associated with aging)
  • Medical Ethics and Jurisprudence
  • Applied Biostatistics and Clinical Epidemiology
  • Patient Safety

Organ Systems

  • Immunologic Disorders 1%–5%
  • Diseases of the Blood and Blood-forming Organs 1%–5%
  • Mental Disorders 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 10%–15%
  • 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 (content allocation increases to 15%-20% with the addition of the Musculoskeletal module) 5%–10%
  • Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 5%–10%

Physician Task

  • Promoting Health and Health Maintenance 15%–20%
  • Understanding Mechanisms of Disease 5%–10%
  • Establishing a Diagnosis 30%–35%
  • Applying Principles of Management 25%–30%

In addition to the Core portion of the exam as outlined above, optional modules in Musculoskeletal/Sports-related injury and Chronic Care are available as a supplement.

How long is the Family Medicine Shelf Exam?

The Family Medicine Shelf exam is made up of 80 items. Each optional module consists of 10 items.

What question formats are on the Family Medicine 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 Family Medicine Shelf Exam Prep and Readiness

During the later years of Medical School, clinical clerkship exams (or shelf exams) are given by the NBME to ascertain readiness. Family Medicine is a module that is required by nearly every program that participates in NBME testing.

Family Medicine is infamous for being really difficult. It’s also well known for the being the ‘what next’ exam. It really helps to lay out processes in advance of studying, and our questions try to help you with the process type questions. We also offer timed exams, so you can get a feel for pacing, and we also include a percentage correct score for EVERY question. Students rely heavily on our personalized recommendations.

NBME Family Medicine Percentile Requirements

Family Medicine requires a score at the 4th percentile to pass.

If you need any help, feel free to reach out us

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