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Date Updated: May 23, 2016

Description of Assessment Modalities

The Post-Licensure Assessment System (PLAS) has developed diverse, state-of-the-art assessment modalities that, taken together, generate pertinent data regarding a physician's medical knowledge, clinical judgment and patient management skills in his or her current or intended area of practice.

These tools are offered to and utilized by national collaborators to complement local, performance-based methods of assessment, such as medical record reviews, peer (preceptor) assessment and feedback, patient evaluations and case-based evaluations of physician care.

Primum® Computer-based Case Simulations (CCS)

A computerized patient management test developed by the NBME that utilizes a spectrum of patient cases including emergency situations and acute and chronic illness. The physician decides what treatment to begin while monitoring the patient's response throughout the case. The interactive computer format of CCS permits an assessment of patient management decision-making skills in a realistic and integrated manner. Physicians preparing for assessments that include CCS should run the CCS tutorial and practice with the sample CCS cases available at the USMLE website. This is followed by Transaction Stimulated Recall Interview, a structured interview based on a record of the physician-participant's actions in the Primum CCS cases. The physician-participant's performance and management choices are evaluated based on expectations of the particular cases administered.

Medical School Subject Examinations

Participants complete a subject exam specific to his or her specialty and practice area. These multiple choice question exams (MCQs) are available in the following clinical clerkship designations:

  • Internal medicine
  • Family medicine
  • General surgery
  • Obstetrics & gynecology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Clinical Neurology

Practice-friendly Specialty Examinations

Participants complete one, two or three brief exams in their specialty. These MCQs are written for practicing physicians and are available in:

  • Hospitalist care
  • Ambulatory care

Modular Knowledge Examinations

Participants complete a selected group of objective exams specific to his or her specialty and practice. Practice-specific tests are selected to best evaluate the physician's assessment needs. The results are used to identify possible deficiencies regarding knowledge in clinical areas.

  • Mechanisms of disease
  • Ethics and communication
  • Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Women’s health care

Contact Information

Post-Licensure Assessment System
National Board of Medical Examiners
3750 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104



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