Performance on the Obstetrics and Gynecology National Board of Medical Examiners Subject Exam: Does Practice Help?

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To evaluate whether a practice NBME examination for Ob/Gyn clerkship third year medical students (MS3s) improves scores on the final NBME examination.


NBME scores provide a measure of students' knowledge.


We compared two groups of MS3s on the Ob/Gyn clerkship at three clinical campuses. Group 1 (n=252) took the NBME examination without a practice exam (6/2012–1/2014), and group 2 (n=271) took the examination after implementation of the practice exam (3/2014–10/2015). Group 2 was surveyed anonymously regarding the practice exam. Outcomes include comparison of final scores between groups using Student t test, comparison of practice and final scores in group 2 using paired Student t test, and proportion of each group scoring ≥70% (“pass”) using χ2 test. ANOVA was used to compare scores at different sites and of different blocks of students.


Mean raw NBME scores do not differ among campuses (75.7, 74.9, 75.6, P=.61). Across the study period, scores were lower during the first half of the academic year, with blocks 6, 7 and 8 differing from 2 and 4 (P=.006). Group 2 demonstrated an improvement (P<.001) of 5.9 points from practice to final NBME. Scores are higher for group 2 than group 1 (76.7, 74.1, P=.001) and 17.1% more group 2 students scored ≥70% (P=.001). Student survey results support the use and continued inclusion of the practice exam.


A practice exam improves students' NBME score, and increases the number of students who pass. Students recommend continued use of the practice NBME exam.

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