by • October 14, 2018 • Family Medicine, Medical School, My OpinionComments (0)2666

Family Medicine – Shelf Exam Tips

If you are looking to do very well on the Family Medicine Shelf Examination, then keep reading. I did very well, got an A+; finishing off my medical school exams with a huge BANG! I used a few resources, and to be frank, they did help a lot.

As per usual when it comes to my break downs on doing well on your clinical clerkships shelf examinations, I will explain what I did in as much detail as I can.

Now as just a quick introduction to what to expect when it comes to the Family Medicine Shelf Exam; it is definitely easier than Internal Medicine. Also, you’d probably be able to pass the Family Medicine Shelf Exam, if you had the Internal Medicine Shelf Exam before; with only using the first resource on the list. Obviously the only difference is “screening” – preventative medicine. I got a fair amount of screening questions on my examination and also a lot of elderly medicine related questions. Some of the questions were as simple as diagnosing the disorder or recognizing a very simple contraindication to someone’s background health in relation to medications, etc. It did have some statistical questions; I got like 2 of them and a few ethical questions.

I also got about 3, 2 part questions that the NBME have decided to include in all of their NBME questions. It is no longer the format of having two questions, with the same options, but different scenarios. Instead, they have two questions, that are related to each other and unfortunately, when you answer one, you have to lock your answer in, before moving on. It is a similar method that’s U-World has, when they have two part questions, which if you decide to move forward, by default you’ve basically locked the previous question. To be honest, I found this to be something that could stress me out, because imagine if you answered the first question wrong, you’d pretty much know it right away as the second question literally starts off with the right answer, as per the continuation of the 2 part format.So, what I did, was skip all those questions once I came to them by going to the review window. After I was done with the exam, I came back to those questions, so at least getting the first part wrong, didn’t screw up my thought process and confidence throughout the remainder of the exam, as all those questions were already answered. So, I would suggest doing this also. By the way, I got all those 2 part questions, correct. Which was a nice icing on the cake, when I left the exam; knowing that I got those 6 questions correct.

It is the other aspect of general practice, that could get you a little frustrated when it comes to this examination. But if you use all the resources I did, you’d be okay. Also, I always make study guides, because it helps with remembering the information as you work on them, and also allows you a quicker resource to do a nice quick review before you start studying for the rest of the information needed for the exam. Also my schedule was basically working on my study guide Monday and Tuesday and leaving the remainder of the week for questions and studying what I prepped that week. It’s one of the techniques I used in my 5th term, when the work load became too much and I needed to prep and then have a period of committing the information to memory.

So, without further ado, here’s what I did to get an A+ in my Family Medicine Shelf Examination.

Case Files: Family Medicine

– I used this as my main resource. Everyone who gave their advice on surviving the Family Medicine NBME, made sure to have this as part of their list of resources. It does provide a lot of information and guides your mind on what the focus of the exam is like. So I will definitely suggest getting this as either a hard copy or PDF download.

Online Med Ed: Family Medicine 6 week Study Schedule

– I loved Online Med Ed for Internal Medicine and Obs/Gyne, so I had no other choice but to see if there was anything that could prepare me for my Family Medicine NBME. You’d see though, that most of the stuff are things you would have come across if you’d taken the Internal Medicine NBME. But of course as it’s Family Medicine, expect that it would have gynecology in there, pediatrics and psychiatry. But the stuff that would have frustrated you when studying for this exam, would have been the Internal Medicine stuff. I downloaded their scheduled and basically supplemented it with whatever I got from Case Files: Family Medicine. Also, Online Med Ed happened to go through other extra information that Case Files didn’t. If you want their schedule, you can download it from here. The PDF file includes the other Shelf Exams, so to get to the Family Medicine schedule just scroll down to the 9th page. I would suggest trying to do the high yield and low yield topics, that are included below the main schedule. Just to get a more broader range of topics, to do as well as you can on your exam.

Clinical Mastery Series – Family Medicine MCQ

– There is only 2 family medicine CMS forms on the NBME website, but they are more than enough. I actually got 1 question that came on the actual Shelf Exam, that was straight from the practice exam. So no complaints there at all. I always believe, since I have been purchasing and doing the CMS practice exams, I have done well beyond my expectation on the actual exams. So the money is well spent. Also, apparently they are going to start providing correct answers to the CMS forms, which is a moment too late for me but good for you!


– A lot of people are confused for some reason, on what questions to do on U-World for Family Medicine. If you take a quick look at the NBME website and read the breakdown of the Family Medicine Shelf Examination, you’d see that Cardiovascular, Endocrine, Respiratory, Gastrointestinal, and Rheumatology, are the high yield topics; that are included in the Internal Medicine U-world MCQs. Then you have your behavioral sciences, which you can just leave to the online med ed topics and case files topics, which are sufficient. It isn’t necessary to do the the psychiatry or the pediatrics U-World questions, as yet again, the other resources are sufficient in providing what diagnoses are relevant on the examination.

AAFP Quizlet Flash Cards

– As a final, tallying up, on getting as much information into this noggin as I could, I came across this quizlet set of flash cards, that had over 500 cards that were really helpful in helping me add more information that I didn’t get from case files or online med ed. Although, majority of the time, it was like a huge massive review session for me. Yet again, an awesome way to just close up on the whole studying period before the exam. So I would suggest doing this after you’ve done the others, as a review. You can easily finish it off in two days.

So there it is! I promise if you just did what I did, you’d do very well. If it is that you just want to pass and doing awesomely isn’t number 1 on your list, then you can do Case Files, Online Med Ed and U-World as your main resources. You should do the CMS in family medicine just to give you an idea of how the exam is, so this can basically guide how you prep and study for the exam. Either way, I know you’re going to do awesomely! So if you’ve had Internal Medicine before, don’t sweat it, you’ll do fine! But if you want more than doing fine, check out my resources! ?


Case Files: Family Medicine
Online Med Ed: Family Medicine 6 week study schedule
Clinical Masters Series – Family Medicine MCQ
UWorld – Internal Medicine
AAFP Quizlet Flash Cards

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