Department of Neurology

Final Exam

Away students should review their site’s page (see Clerkship Sites) for information about final exam time and location.

Time & location: The final exam takes place on the final Thursday of the clerkship unless it is a holiday. The location and time will be announced via email during the clerkship.  More information can be found here.  For those of you in WWAMI, please see the travel policy.

About the exam: The final exam is a standardized subject exam from the NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners).  It is computerized. There are 110 questions and 2 hours and 45 minutes time allotted.  Only 100 questions are used in the final analysis.  Scores will convert to Honors (81 and above), High Pass (75-80), Pass (60-74), and Fail (59 and below).

The main reason for a final exam is to provide an objective component to the grading process. Here is how the final exam will be used:

  • A passing score is required to pass the clerkship.  For students who Fail, we will recommend retaking the neurology clerkship to the student progress committee (SPC).
  • Students scoring Honors on the exam will be rewarded on the final grade by raising the summative evaluation grade by one level except when the evaluation grade is Fail.
  • A minimum exam score of 75 (high pass) is needed in order to receive a final grade of Honors. (See the grading policy page for more information)

There are several other reasons for using the NBME subject exam rather than an “internal departmental exam”. First, the NBME exam is developed by expert question writers and reviewed by neurologists for importance. Second, it is good practice for students to see the type of questions used on USMLE board exams. Third, it will allow evaluation of our neurology clerkship compared to other clerkships across the country.

The time allotted for this exam is determined by the NBME. Occasionally, a student has a documented learning disability that requires extra time on the exam. If this is your circumstance, please let us know the first week of the clerkship. The disability must be documented in the School of Medicine.

Free advice:

  1. Consider yourself warned that the exam is challenging.  I have asked students who have done the very best on the exam how they studied.  The most common answer is that they picked a resource from the Independent Study tab and completed questions from a USMLE Step 2 source such as QBank or First Aid.
  2. You will not see all of neurology in this clerkship. Read throughout the four weeks from the neurology topic list in your pocket syllabus. Do not wait until the last week.
  3. Do not slow down to spend a lot of time on one question. Students who do have not had time to finish the exam.
  4. Take the practice quiz provided by the NBME.  Twenty questions.  Go to:
Breakdown of Questions
General Principles 1-5
Mental Disorders 5-10
Diseases of the Nervous System and Special Senses
  Promoting Health and Health Maintenance 5-10
  Understanding Mechanisms of Disease 15-20
  Establishing a Diagnosis
    Disorders of the special senses 1-5
    Structural disorders (trauma, cerebrovascular disease, infections) 10-15
    Toxic, metabolic and degenerative disorders 5-10
    Paroxysmal and sleep disorders 1-5
    Neuromuscular disorders 10-15
  Applying Principles of Management 15-20
Other Organ Systems 5-10