Medical Students??? NBME subject exam preparation habits and their predictive effects on actual scores


Angellar Manguvo, Megan Litzau, Jennifer Quaintace, Stefanie Ellison

Background and Purpose: There is a paucity of empirical-based knowledge upon which medical students and clerkship directors in the US and Canada direct National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) subject exam preparation. This study investigated NBME subject exam preparation habits and their predictive effects on actual scores. Methods: Sixty medical students from the University of Missouri-Kansas City were surveyed in six clerkships on preparation time, resources utilization, study strategies, and help-seeking trends when relating to NBME subject exam preparation. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine predictive effects of the constructs on actual scores. Results: Participants relied on rote-memorization and mock exam rehearsal more than cooperative learning and conceptualization. On average, 3-6 resources/clerkship were utilized with clear preference of question banks and review books over textbooks. Participants spent 11-20 hours/week/clerkship studying for NBME subject exams with a majority starting midway through the rotations. Despite observed positive correlations, none of the study variables significantly predicted actual scores. The full regression model, however, accounted for 32.2% of the variance in NBME subject exam scores. Conclusions: Exam preparation trends unveiled in this study may provide helpful insights to clerkship directors and medical students in making informed decisions on selection of preparatory resources and study strategies to best utilize time and funding.