NBME Free 120 Ultimate Guide
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NBME Free 120 [Ultimate Guide]

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In this post, I will present everything you need to know about NBME Free 120 and some tips on how to ace your USMLE

As a medical student, you know that right when you take this path, there will be a lot of books, exams, and some trial and error that you’ll have to go through. One of these is the USMLE, which can either make or break your medical career.

If you’re considering entering medical schools that don’t require the MCAT, then there will be pressure for you to do great for your USMLE as well.

The United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE) is necessary for residency and fellowship programs. If you don’t pass it, you will not get your medical license and you won’t be allowed to practice as a doctor. 

As daunting as the USMLE may sound, there are available resources out there, such as the NBME Free 120, to help you prepare for this examination. Keep on reading as we discuss what the NBME Free 120 is in the first place and how you can maximize it to have better scores for your USMLE. 

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What Is The NBME Free 120?

The NBME Free 120, also known as USMLE Free 120, is a set of 120 sample questions given by the NBME to help aspiring medical professionals like you pass the exam. You can utilize the sample questionnaire for free at any time on their website

It is composed of questions that resemble the exact style and user interface of USMLE Step 1. Since the examination proper is computerized and will take several hours, you must learn the basics first hand with the help of NBME so you’ll save more time on your exam. 

Trust me when I say that you will need every extra time you can have on your USMLE. Any additional time is crucial as it can help you focus more on answering difficult questions. 

The NBME Free 120 includes three blocks filled with 40 questions that allow you to practice your knowledge and see whether you are prepared enough for the USMLE. It also comes with a tutorial and instructions for using the software that will deliver your exam. 

I recommend that you aim for a 95 to 100% score on the sample examination. Although it’s important that you score highly on the sample exam, remember that it’s better to familiarize yourself with the terms and mechanics than memorize the questions per se. 

How To Use The NBME 120

NBME Free 120 Ultimate Guide

Utilize It As A Test Day Guide Before USMLE

Before the day of your exam, it’s better not to overload your brain with excessive studying. You would want to use this time to get some rest so you’ll have a relaxed mind and energy to take on the test. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll do nothing. Use your NBME Free 120 as a trial test 1 to 3 days before your scheduled exam

Take the Free 120 as if you’re taking the real one, so that on the exam day, you’ll be accustomed to the format of questions, how to use the software, and make good use of the break times.

Don’t Memorize The NBME Questionnaire

As said earlier, it’s better not to dissect the whole question. You won’t see the exact ones on the USMLE test. 

You should identify your weakest areas and work on that, rather than memorizing the answers to the entire NBME. 

For example, you had a question about a specific heart defect. Instead of focusing on what made your answer wrong or right, you’re better off using the time spent doing a thorough review about cardiology.

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Use The Test Tutorial Beforehand

The NBME Free 120 will also show you how the interface will look like on your USMLE test day. Even though the tutorial is optional, I recommend using it to save time on your scheduled exam. 

The tutorial includes instructions on audio calibrations, keyboard functions, screen layout, and other vital features in the test. It would be best if you make sure you understand the content.

Doing this can save you approximately 15 minutes of break time. Those extra time can be crucial if you want to break down those blocks of questions.

When To Start AAMC Practice Exams

Understand How NBME Is Scored

It’s important to note that the NBME Free 120 does not give a three-digit score, but it generates a percentage of what you got right. There is no clear data on how your NBME score will correlate to your USMLE score. 

However, you don’t have to lose hope. The NBME offers an answer key to their sample questions so you can check which ones you got right or wrong. 

Although they don’t offer explanations for the answers, some people provide detailed and free explanations for all aspiring USMLE examiners. 

What Is The Purpose Of The NBME 120?

The main purpose of the NBME 120 is to help you boost your USMLE test score. Since USMLE is owned by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), rest assured that the questions in the sample questionnaires would be relevant for the examination proper. 

However, it would be best not to memorize the questions because there will be a low chance that you’ll encounter the same questions on your USMLE. I suggest that you focus more on learning and understanding the concepts in medicine to have a better chance of a high score.

NBME Free 120 also aims to help students achieve the score they want on their USMLE test score. The total number of items in the Step 1 examination is 280, and you will need to answer at least 60% correctly to pass the test. 

Lastly, the beauty of NBME Free 120 is that it will also give you the chance to review your strengths and weaknesses. It will present to you which areas you need to focus on more and which ones you can improve for the better.

Step 1 Tips

When To Take An NBME

The NBME 120 is free to use for everyone on USMLE’s website. It depends on the examiner when they feel like taking the NBME. 

Many students like to take the sample questionnaire at the beginning of their study period for USMLE. It can help them identify their weaknesses and know which areas they need to study more. 

However, it all depends on the state of the examiner. If you just completed your basic sciences or have taken an exit exam, then you’re all good to take the NBME and get a decent score since your knowledge about medicine is still fresh. 

On the other hand, for individuals who have been out of school for several months to years, it would be better to review your basic sciences and work on everything you learned in your med school. 

The NBME Free 120 is also not an unlimited resource. It would be best to keep them until you’re confident that you are ready to maximize the benefits. 

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Is There A Difference Between USMLE And MCAT? 

Yes, there is a big difference between USMLE and MCAT. 

Though both tests are produced to examine your skills, they are used for different purposes

Medical universities use the MCAT to assess whether their potential candidates have what it takes to learn how to become a doctor. Most schools require it, but some institutions offer special programs for those who don’t want to take the test. 

On the other hand, the USMLE is an examination to determine whether a med school graduate is skilled enough to be a professional in the United States. It is formed by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)

Even the structures of the two exams are different. The MCAT is composed of multiple-choice questions and takes up exactly five hours and ten minutes, including the break time. 

USMLE is divided into three steps, including both practical exams and computer-based tests. Step 1 is to be taken during the sophomore year of your medical studies, and Step 2 is for your senior year.  Lastly, you should take Step 3 during the first year of your residency. 

Tips On Acing The USMLE

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Tip #1. Start Studying Early On

My first and best advice on having a high score on USMLE is to start studying as early as your first year. Be active during your freshman year and learn as much as you can

The USMLE Step 1 will mainly include topics during your preclinical years

Tip #2. Talk To Colleagues Who Took The Exam

In order to know how much you’ll need to study and where to focus, it would be best to consult with friends and colleagues who took the exam. They can give you pointers and some tips to help you with the test. 

Tip #3. Make A Great Schedule Plan

The next tip is to make an effective schedule plan and stick with it. In order to pass USMLE, you need to be dedicated to your studies. 

Making a study schedule will help you keep track of things you need to concentrate on and the time you have left before your USMLE test. 

Tip #4. Remember When To Take A Rest

As much as you want to give all of your time studying, it’s also equally important to know when to take a rest. Remember that you learn faster and more efficiently when your brain is well-rested.

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Bonus: Want a full library of free medical school eBooks, video courses, and training? Click here to get access to your free med school advice library!

Preparing for USMLE is never going to be easy. After all, this is for your medical license we’re talking about!

A medical license proves that a practicing medical professional is qualified and competent enough to be in the field. It’s also a legal requirement to practice medicine in the United States.

Although getting a license is hard, there are many resources that you can use to achieve it. One of them is the NBME Free 120

Knowing how to maximize your Free 120 can significantly influence your USMLE score. However, it’s important to note that the NBME’s sample questionnaire shouldn’t be your sole resource. It’s a great tool, but you’ll need more than that to achieve a decent score in USMLE. 

If you want access to our full library of guides and free courses for med students, check out the Med Vault!

This is a completely free library of step-by-step eBooks & video courses that can help you on your medical journey!

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If you are about to take USMLE Step 1, then check out the Step 1 Academy.

The Step 1 Academy is designed for students who are looking to crush their Step 1 exams but who may not know the approach or tools to help get them there. Click here if you want to get a high Step 1 score.

And finally, you may be in medical school and you want tips and strategies that will help you avoid pitfalls (like most students do), and become more successful. You know it’s still gonna be hard, but you want to enjoy the process.

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It’s literally all the guides and resources that I put together when I was in medical school and things that I wish that I used back then. And it’s been reviewed by hundreds of students. So check it out here if you’re interested.

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Until the next one, my friend…

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