Neurology Shelf Exam

What You Need to Know

The NBME® Clinical Neurology Shelf Exam, or Clinical Neurology Subject Examination, evaluates a student’s mastery of neurology and its application when diagnosing patients. Though the clerkship is relatively short (about 4-6 weeks), the exam features long and challenging stems that don’t always cover what comes up in rotations.

Looking for a new Neurology Shelf resource? Study with AMBOSS.

How to Study for the Neurology Shelf Exam

  • Work on how to quickly identify high-yield information in a question stem. It will help you move through the exam faster in the limited time available. Start practicing now with AMBOSS’ highlighting tool.
  • Don’t ignore complicated topics like vertigo; even if it is not always indicated as high-yield, it can appear several times. In this case, you’ll want a robust differential diagnosis tool, like this one.
  • Practice analyzing laboratory studies and CSF results, and understand the differences between CT and MRI.
  • Dedicate as much time as you can to memorizing neurology vocabulary, which is often complicated and specific.
  • Go through as many neurology shelf exam practice questions as you possibly can, as studies have shown correlation with higher exam scores. AMBOSS currently has 350+ neurology-specific questions.
  • There is some overlap between the Psychiatry and Neurology Shelf exams, especially when it comes to drug-related questions, so it’s a good idea to take them in succession, if possible.
  • Master anatomy and neurological pathways, as lesion localization makes up a substantial part of the exam. Our neurological examination article offers illustrations, diagrams, a quiz, and tables that can aid your study sessions.

Taking the Neurology Shelf Exam

Not all students have to take the NBME Neurology Shelf Exam, and it’s not obligatory for obtaining a U.S. doctor’s license. However, most medical schools have a required neurology clerkship, and the most popular way to test students is by using the NBME’s official Clinical Neurology Subject Examination. Students should note: the exam can only be taken at authorized testing locations, like Prometric test centers or on campus at select medical schools.

The exam is formatted as an online test consisting of 110 multiple choice questions which must be completed in 165 minutes. Luckily for students, it has the same interface as the USMLE Step exams, with each question set up as a vignette. The exam is graded on a national average, though whether or not you pass your neurology clerkship will depend on your individual medical school’s requirements. More specifically, the number of correct answers you get places you in a percentile, which is then measured across national grades.

Neurology Shelf question stems are notoriously long and complicated. To best prepare, you need an essential resource that can equip you with both a comprehensive Qbank and an integrated medical knowledge library.

Succeed on Your Neurology Rotation with AMBOSS

AMBOSS is an all-in-one resource that serves as both a clinical companion on the wards and a reliable study guide for your NBME® Clinical Neurology Shelf Exam. The medical library has neurology-specific Articles, which can be used as a point-of-care reference when you’re with patients or rounding with your team, and its robust Qbank is a reliable source for in-depth studying (even offline—check out our mobile apps for Android and iOS).

Practice for the Neurology Shelf Exam Using the Qbank

  • Review as many questions as you can—you have 500+ high-yield, NBME-formatted questions to choose from.
  • Enable highlighting to identify important information quickly, even in the longest stems.
  • Look up disease descriptions, definitions, and multimedia materials instantly, thanks to our Qbank’s seamless integration with the Library.
  • Get an overview of your progress with a continuous analysis of your session success; you’ll be able to pinpoint—and close—knowledge gaps.
  • Activate exam mode to practice answering longer question stems in a time-constrained environment.

Find a Clinical Companion in the Library

  • Access Articles chock-full of neurology-related terms and topics. You can start with the neurological exam Article.
  • Practice interpreting sample images with helpful overlays that clearly identify key features and abnormalities.
  • Go through step-by-step guides and flowcharts for focused physical examinations, as well as dozens of differential diagnosis charts.
  • Study with the help of multimedia material, like illustrations, instructional videos, and photos of patient simulations.
  • Use Phrasionary to quickly look up the definitions of neurology and psychiatry vocabulary.

Use AMBOSS as a Clinical Companion