NBME 25- NBME 30: Which is the Best Predictor for Passing Step 1 (2024)

There are an incredible number of resources out there for Step 1 preparation. No one study approach will work for everyone or guarantee success. Whatever plan or resources you decide to use, everyone will need to use practice questions and practice exams. These help to really gauge how well they understand the content that will be tested on Step 1. In this post, we will review the NBME 25 and 30 to help you understand which of these is the best predictor for passing USMLE Step 1. We recommend taking a look at our 10-Week Step 1 schedule or our 5-week Step 1 schedule to help you get on your way to Step 1 success!

Practice exams are one of, if not the most important factor of your Step 1 preparation. They provide a benchmark of how you are performing. Practice exams can also help you predict whether you are ready to take your exam. They are also very useful for breaking down your performance by subject area. This can help you identify areas where you might need to focus your studying. Taking all your practice exams seriously and thoroughly reviewing them is essential to your preparation for Step 1. You will get experience with the types of questions the USMLE will ask and review much of the content that could be covered on your exam.

Which Practice Exams are Available?

There are currently six practice exams offered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) for Step 1. These are called Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessments (CBSSAs). The current forms available to students for purchase are Form 25 – Form 30. Each exam is $60, however, your medical school may provide you with vouchers to take to one or more of these practice forms.

Each exam consists of four sections of 50 questions with a total of 200 multiple-choice questions. You can take each exam at a standard pace (1 hour and 15 minutes per section) or self-paced (5 hours per section). I recommend all my students use standard pacing in order to simulate the timing of the actual USMLE. In addition to the NBME exams, there are two UWorld Self-Assessments (UWSA) that are also good resources. If you want even more practice questions, the NBME also offers a Step 1 Orientation that includes 120 practice questions. This is known to many students as the “Free 120”. These questions are also similar to the style you will see on the USMLE, however, there are no official answer explanations to help you review the questions.

Which NBME Practice Exam is the Best Predictor for Passing Step 1?

Students often want to know which CBSSA is the best predictor for passing Step 1 This is especially important if you may not have enough time to take all the CBSSAs. Many students ask, “Which is the most important NBME?” or “How do I decide which NBMEs to take?”

Based on informal student reporting, NBME 28 and UWSA 2 are the most correlated with Step 1 performance. Given this information, it might be a good idea to take these two exams when you are further along in your dedicated study and closer to your actual test day. However, all the CBSSAs that are currently available as well as the UWSAs should be helpful predictors of your performance.

The NBME consistently updates the available test forms. The questions are reflective of the style and content that you will see on the USMLE Step 1. When you take a CBSSA, you will receive an estimate of your likelihood to pass Step 1 if you took it within a week of your practice exam. While many factors can affect your actual performance on test day, it is generally good for most students to have taken at least 3 practice tests and obtained a 95 percent or greater likelihood of passing before sitting for Step 1.

Enhance Your USMLE Step 1 Preparation with Community Insights and Expert Guidance!

Navigating the vast array of resources for Step 1 can be a challenge, but practice exams are a crucial component of your preparation. They provide a clear benchmark for your performance and help you gauge your readiness for the exam. Join our newly established subreddit, r/ask_a_usmle_tutor, where you can connect with experienced MD tutors and fellow students, and get valuable insights on practice exams, study strategies, and more. Join us now at r/ask_a_usmle_tutor

Looking for personalized guidance? Our experienced tutors can assist you in deciding which practice exams to take, create an ideal study schedule, refine your test-taking strategy, and provide the motivation needed to succeed on the USMLE Step 1. Schedule your complimentary consultation today to explore how we can support you on your journey!

Looking for a tailored Step 1 schedule? Consider checking out our 10-Week Step 1 schedule or our 5-week Step 1 schedule to kickstart your journey towards Step 1 success!

NBME 25- NBME 30: Which is the Best Predictor for Passing Step 1 (2024)


Which NBMEs are most predictive for Step 1? ›

Many students ask, “Which is the most important NBME?” or “How do I decide which NBMEs to take?” Based on informal student reporting, NBME 28 and UWSA 2 are the most correlated with Step 1 performance.

What is the passing score for NBME 25? ›

However, we can determine what percentage you would need on each CBSSA (NBME) to pass Step 1. The passing score percentage for each of the Step 1 NBMEs is: CBSSA 25 – 64% correct (73 incorrect) CBSSA 26 – 64% correct (72 incorrect)

What score do you need to pass Step 1 on NBME? ›

Examination Feedback

NBME sets a standard of competence for the IFOM BSE that approximates the Step 1 passing standard. The IFOM BSE score that best approximates the Step 1 passing standard is 78.

Which NBME to take for Step 1 2024? ›

NBME Free 120 is the closest in terms of the kind of questions you'll be asked as well as simulating the testing environment. The material covered on this test is extremely high-yield; there's also a chance some of the questions asked could appear on your real test.

Is Step 1 closer to Uworld or NBME? ›

The USMLE Step 1 exam tends to resemble NBME style questions more closely, but in my experience the UWSAs often better predict final exam scores than the NBMEs for many students. Recommendation: start with NBMEs and save the two UWSA for the final few weeks of studying.

What percent of test takers fail Step 1? ›

Failing USMLE Step 1 is not uncommon.

2022 NBME performance data show that the passing rate for 1st time test takers with a US or Canadian MD degree was 93%; with a US or Canadian DO degree was 89%; and for non-US or Canadian degrees was 74%. These passing rates have gone down from the 2021 data across the board.

What is a 90% chance of passing Step 1? ›

A 90% estimated probability of passing Step 1 within a week still means that 1 out of 10 students with the same level of performance will fail based on the predictive model. The estimated probability is not the same as the percentage of the content mastered.

What is a low pass on NBME? ›

NBME provides students a low pass range on their NBME practice exams of 60%-70% with a recommended scoring range of 68%-70% for sense of security on test day. This will vary by student. But the rule of thumb is that if you are scoring consistently in this range, you can move forward with taking the exam.

What is the average NBME score? ›

Reported Step 1 scores range from 1-300 with a mean of 231 and a standard devia on of 20.

How does NBME calculate chance of passing? ›

Your es mated probability of passing Step 1 is calculated using a sta s cal model based on examinees who tested within one week of taking Step 1 for the first me. If you tested more than a week before you are scheduled to take Step 1, your es mated probability may be different.

Is UWorld enough to pass Step 1? ›

Yes, it's generally recommended for users to complete two full passes of the UWorld Step 1 QBank. However, UWorld also offers a 30-day subscription if you have discovered this service with your exam in 30 days or less.

How many NBMEs should I take for Step 1? ›

How many NBME tests should I take? Three NBME tests seems to be the number to shoot for Step 1 and 2 CK. There are six available Step 1 practice tests, three tests for Step 2 CK, and one test for Step 3.

When did NBME 25 come out? ›

Yes, the Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessments released on March 24, 2021 (forms 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30) include answer explanations for both correct and incorrect answer choices. Will the cost of the Comprehensive Self-Assessments increase as a result of adding answer explanations?

Is 60% enough to pass Step 1? ›

The percentages of correctly answered items required to pass varies by Step and from form to form within each Step. However, examinees typically must answer approximately 60% of items correctly to achieve a passing score.

Is 6 weeks enough for Step 1? ›

And for those students who may have struggled through the first few years of medical school, they should consider taking 6-8 weeks studying for Step 1.

Do NBMEs underpredict Step 1? ›

Importantly, the NBME reports that “if you tested again without learning or forgetting…, your score would fall within 4 points of the reported score two-thirds of the time.” That makes the NBME an excellent and accurate predictor of your Step 1 performance.

Is NBME 18 predictive? ›

In our experience, since the new NBMEs were introduced, NBME form 18 has been the most predictive of students' scores on test day.

How accurate are the NBMEs? ›

Those statistics are pretty remarkable, particularly for Step 2 CK. It implies that roughly 1 in 4 students will score at least 20 points higher on their actual test than predicted by the Step 2 CK NBME. (By comparison, many fewer Step 1 students will accomplish this feat).

Is UWSA2 still predictive? ›

If time allows, you should complete both UWSAs, but UWSA2 seems to be the best predictor of your Step 2 CK score. When comparing NBMEs and UWSA, UWSA 2 seems to correlate most closely with test-day performance. When I was preparing for Step 2, I was also concerned about improving my stamina for test day.


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