Year 3 and 4 Courses

While the year 3 and 4 clinical years lack the considerable testing demands that are a hallmark of pre-clinical training (and Step 1), exams persist (notably in the form of SHELF assessments and Steps 2CK & CS) and resources for new challenges emerge to broaden the trainee toolbox (or academic 'black bag.')

Learning to balance the development of clinical competencies, with expanding medical knowledge, residency options, and patient-centered care highlight the challenges and rewards of these concluding Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) years.

The resources, information, and C-Q-A recommendations below represent the collective input of staff and preceeding classes (check out the Words from the Wise) to help you build the best possible academic 'black bag' for success in the clinical years.  All the best! 

Shelf vs Non-shelf Rotations

Shelf Non-shelf
Med 1* Peds (CLIPP)
Surgery Family Med
Psychiatry Emergency Med
Neurology Med 1 (EKG)
OB/Gyn Surgery (OSATS)


Tips and Considerations for Clerkship Exams

C - Content Resources

Applying the C-Q-A process to your clerkship / Shelf exam preparations, exam Content can vary quite alot depending on the respective clerkships. Consult the 'Words from the Wise' surveys for specific recommendations and consider the partial listing of resources below.  In general, covering content explanations from UWorld (for 2CK) is a consistently reliable baseline approach - and supplement as needed from that point (depending on the rotation).

  • Online MedEd [general content resource]
  • IM Essentials (Text) [for Medicine 1]
  • Step-up to Medicine [for Medicine 1]
  • Pestana's Surgery Notes [for Surgery]
  • CLIPP cases [for Pediatrics]
  • USMLE for 2CK Secrets [general guide]

Q - Question Resources

Regarding Question resources for clerkships/Shelf, UWorld is the golden standard (for most of the clerkships - note exceptions below). The general strategy is to complete available questions for the respective rotations while you are completing the rotations (no need to 'save' questions for your later 2CK preparations. The content explanations are considerered to be excellent and the question style consistent with what you're likely to see on the exams themselves. While a strong resource, others exist and can be considered as needed.

  • UWorld (for 2CK)
  • IM Essentials (Questions) [for Medicine 1]
  • Board Vitals [free resource through the BioMed Library]
  • USMLE Qmax for 2CK
  • APGO/ACOG uWise question bank [available through the OB/Gyn program]

A - Assessment Resources

Regrettably, there aren't a considerable number of options for the Assessments part of the C-Q-A process for clerkship exams.  Most students appear to rely on performance within each of the UWorld question blocks (and/or through resources provided by respective clerkships sites).  This said, NBME does provide a helpful set of abbreviated assessments under the Clinical Mastery Series heading that should be considered.  Unlike their 'comprehensive' series counterparts, these shortened assessments provide a good insight into the style and content depth expected on Shelf exams.  Assessments are available in each of the major rotation areas (medicine, surgery, psychiatry, neurology, and pediatrics). 

UMN Resources / Accommodations

In addition to resources already noted, you may find the following to be helpful in supporting your success with exams in the clinical years. These include reminders to utilize contacts with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to update and/or arrange testing accommodations:

Contact Medical Education

Twin Cities Campus

Duluth Campus