Psychiatry Shelf Exam Questions and Review

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Psychiatry Shelf Exam Board Review Topics Covered:

  • Neurology
  • Adjustment Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Developmental Processes and Development Through the Life Cycle
  • Eating Disorders
  • Depressive disorders and bipolar disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders
  • Sexual and Gender Disorders
  • Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Non-Pharmacological Treatments
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Psychotherapy
  • Clinical Science, Genetics
  • Disorders Due to General Medical Condition
  • Epidemiology and Statitics
  • Factitious Disorder
  • Psychology, Sociology, Politics, Ethics
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
  • Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence (Neurodevelopmental Disorders)
  • Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
  • Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

About the NBME Psychiatry 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 Psychiatry Shelf Exam?

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

General Principles 5%–10%

Mental Disorders

  • Mental disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence 5%–10%
  • Substance-related disorders 5%–10%
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders 5%–10%
  • Mood disorders 5%–10%
  • Anxiety disorders 5%–10%
  • Somatoform disorders 1%–5%
  • Other disorders/conditions 5%–10%
  • Diseases of the Nervous System and Special Senses 10%–15%

Physician Tasks

  • Promoting Health and Health Maintenance 1%–5%
  • Understanding Mechanisms of Disease 10%–15%
  • Establishing a Diagnosis 55%-65%
  • Applying Principles of Management 20%–25%

What question formats are on the Psychiatry 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.

Vignettes

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 Psychiatry Exam Prep and Readiness

During the last years of Medical School, the Psychiatry clinical clerkship exams (or shelf exams) are given by the NBME to ascertain readiness.

A couple of documents helpful as references while studying:

Use our timed exams to make sure that you’re keeping pace – this is one thing that we hear over and over again. The exam is fast-paced and difficult, so make sure you have plenty of experience in those conditions. From students we’ve interviewed, there can be extra details in the question, and the distractors will be close. Try answering the question before looking at the answer choices. Try this when practicing with our questions, as well as when you’re in the actual exam. The exam is scored in percentiles to determine pass/fail, so make sure that you’re scoring well in the average or above.

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

View all of our NBME Shelf Exam Prep Offerings here.