The Shelf exams are standardized subject-specific exams created by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). These exams contain a wide range of questions that have been retired, or “shelved”, from previous USMLE exams. Some questions bear great resemblance to other ones you may come across on your USMLE tests. They assess your scientific and clinical problem solving, so you may encounter these exams at several points during your time in medical school.

The complete subject list of the NBME “off-the-shelf” subject exams are shown under their major categories in bold.

NBME Subjects

Medical students most often use Cram Fighter to build study schedules as they prepare for the USMLE Step 1 board exam, but we also support building granular daily study schedules for the seven Clinical Science Shelf exams. For example, below you can see a breakout of the most Shelf exams that Cram Fighter customers studied for in the past 12 months.

Popularity of exams

Cram Fighter can help med students build study plans for each one of these seven Clinical Science Shelf exams. We support dozens of Shelf exam resources including books, lectures, Qbanks, and flashcards.

In the tables below, we’ve ranked the 5 most popular study resources for each Shelf exam subject as of September 2020, according to how often other students have added these resources to their Cram Fighter Shelf exam study schedules.

These aren’t necessarily the best resources, they’re just the ones we have seen our customers add most often, and may be a good starting point as you start to select your own study resources. Or, you can validate your own Shelf exam resources by looking at what other med students are using most often. For the most up-to-date ranking of Shelf exam resources, please check the latest tables for your exam on our Stats page as they are updated regularly based on what our customers are adding.








If you have Shelf exams on your horizon during your journey through medical school, try Cram Fighter totally free for 7 days to build your own Shelf exams study schedule. For more study tips for Shelf exams during your clinical rotations and advice on preparing for Shelfs, check out our blog post: Your MS3 Survival Guide: How To Ace Your Shelf Exams.