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What is IFOM?

  • The International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) program provides accessible, high-quality examinations that help medical schools and other organizations around the world assess students’ knowledge and compare their performance against an international standard.
  • Launched in 2007, IFOM plays a key role in fulfilling NBME’s mission to protect the health of the global public through state-of-the-art assessments.
  • The IFOM program now comprises three exams:
    1. IFOM Basic Science Examination (BSE)
    2. IFOM Clinical Science Examination (CSE)
    3. IFOM Clinical Science Self-Assessment

Who Uses IFOM, and Why?

  • The IFOM exams are used by individuals and by organizations such as medical schools, internship and residency programs, and ministries of health or education for various purposes, including:
    1. To test students’ knowledge before and/or after particular phases of education and training
    2. To select candidates for training, such as internships or residencies, or for exchange programs
    3. For regional or national certification
    4. To help evaluate curriculum or other assessments
    5. To benchmark students or programs against an international standard
    6. To prepare students to take USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 Clinical Knowledge

The IFOM Basic Science Exam (IFOM BSE)

  • The IFOM BSE is a comprehensive examination designed to assess examinees’ knowledge of the basic medical sciences.
  • Schools that use a traditional curriculum (in which students are taught basic sciences first and then progress to clinical training) often administer the IFOM BSE prior to the start of clinical training, but the exam is also used for other purposes.
  • For What Purposes Is the IFOM BSE Used? Schools and other organizations use the exam in the following ways:
    • End-of-course, end-of-year, or end-of-training assessment
    • Part of admission requirements (with the IFOM Clinical Science Exam or other exams) for an internship or residency program
    • Curriculum or assessment benchmarking, eg, comparing the IFOM BSE scores to scores on a local assessment or comparing the IFOM BSE scores of students experiencing different types of curricula
  • The IFOM BSE is also used by individual students and graduates for personal benchmarking, for applying to residency programs, and for preparation to take the USMLE Step 1.
  • Pattern: The exam comprises 160 multiple-choice questions, most of which are presented in clinical vignette style, in order to assess examinees’ ability to not just recall but also apply basic medical science knowledge. The following content areas are covered:
    • Anatomy
    • Biochemistry
    • Histology and Cell Biology
    • Microbiology
    • Organ Systems
    • Pathology
    • Pharmacology
    • Physiology
  • IFOM BSE Content Outline:
  • Organ system processes
    • Normal: 20%-30%
    • Abnormal: 70%-80%
  • Physician tasks/competencies:
    • Medical Knowledge/Scientific Concepts: 62%-68%
    • Patient Care: Diagnosis: 21%-28%
      • History and physical examination
      • Laboratory and diagnostic studies
      • Diagnosis
      • Prognosis/outcome
    • Patient Care: Management: 6%-8%
      • Health maintenance and disease prevention
      • Pharmacotherapy
      • Clinical interventions
    • Communication, Interpersonal Skills, & Professionalism: 1%-3%
    • Practice-based Learning: 2%-4%
    • Application of principles of biostatistics
    • Population healthEpidemiology
  1. General Principles of Foundational Science: 12%-14%
  2. Immune System: 3%-5%
  3. Blood and Lymphoreticular System: 3%-5%
  4. Nervous System and Special Senses: 9%-11%
  5. Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue: 2%-4%
  6. Musculoskeletal System: 5%-7%
  7. Cardiovascular System: 11%–13%
  8. Respiratory System: 7%–9%
  9. Gastrointestinal System: 8%–10%
  10. Renal and Urinary Systems: 5%-7%
  11. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Puerperium: 2%-4%
  12. Female Reproductive System & Breast: 2%-4%
  13. Male Reproductive System: 1%-3%
  14. Endocrine System: 5%–7%
  15. Multisystem Processes & Disorders: 8%-10%
  16. Biostatistics, Epidemiology/Population Health, and Interpretation of the Medical Literature: 2%-4%
  17. Social Sciences: 1%-3%

The IFOM Clinical Science Exam (IFOM CSE)

  • The IFOM CSE assesses the medical knowledge and understanding of clinical science considered essential for the provision of safe and effective patient care.
  • For What Purpose Is the IFOM CSE Used? Schools and other organizations use the exam in the following ways:
    1. Curriculum/assessment benchmarking/quality control
    2. Testing students prior to or after clinical training
    3. Medical school exit exam
    4. Intern/residency selection
    5. Preparation for the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK)
  • IFOM CSE is also used by individual students and graduates for personal benchmarking, to apply to residency programs, and for preparation to take USMLE Step 2 CK.
  • The exam comprises 160 multiple-choice questions presented in clinical vignette style to assess examinees’ ability to not just recall but also apply their knowledge in clinical contexts. The following content areas are covered:
    1. Family Medicine
    2. Medicine
    3. Obstetrics and Gynecology
    4. Pediatrics
    5. Psychiatry
    6. Surgery
  • IFOM CSE Content Blueprint: 
Topics Physician tasks/competencies
  1. Normal Age-related Findings: 1%-3%
  2. Immune System: 2%-4%
  3. Blood and Lymphoreticular System: 4%-6%
  4. Behavioral Health: 3.5%-5.5%
  5. Nervous System and Special Senses: 8.5%-10.5%
  6. Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue: 3.5%-5.5%
  7. Musculoskeletal System: 6%-8%
  8. Cardiovascular System: 8%-10%
  9. Respiratory System: 8.5%-10.5%
  10. Gastrointestinal System: 8%-10%
  11. Renal and Urinary System: 4.5%-6.5%
  12. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Puerperium: 4%-6%
  13. Female Reproductive System & Breast: 6%-8%
  14. Male Reproductive System: 1%-3%
  15. Endocrine System: 6%-8%
  16. Multisystem Processes & Disorders: 6%-8%
  17. Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Public/Population Health: 3%-5%
  18. Social Sciences: 1%-3%
  • Medical Knowledge/Scientific Concepts: 13%-18%
    • Applying foundational science concepts
  • Patient Care – Diagnosis: 43%-48%
    • History and physical examination
    • Laboratory and diagnostic studies
    • Diagnosis
    • Prognosis/outcome
  • Patient Care – Management: 32%-37%
    • Health maintenance and disease prevention
    • Pharmacotherapy
    • Clinical interventions
    • Mixed management
  • Professionalism: 1%-2%
    • Professionalism/legal/ethical issues in interaction with patients and families
    • Professionalism/legal/ethical issues in interactions with patients and families related to death and dying
    • Professionalism/legal/ethical issues in interactions with other health professionals
  • Patient Safety: 1%-2%
  • Practice-based Learning: 2%-4%
    • Understanding and application of principles of biostatistics, public health, and epidemiology
    • Understanding of the principles of research ethics and regulatory issues

IFOM Clinical Science Self-Assessment

  • The International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) Clinical Science Self-Assessment assesses your knowledge of the clinical sciences in advance of taking the IFOM Clinical Science Exam.
  • It covers the same content as the Clinical Science Exam and includes 80 multiple-choice questions. 

Visit the Taking a Self-Assessment page to learn more

Taking the IFOM Exam

  • While many administrations of the IFOM exams are arranged and conducted by schools and other institutions at their sites and on behalf of their examinees, the NBME also makes the IFOM Clinical Science Exam and the IFOM Basic Science Exam available for individual administrations two times per year.
  • Individuals can use this option in a variety of circumstances, including:
    1. Personal benchmarking or practice
    2. Application to a residency program, exchange program, or other opportunity that accepts IFOM scores
    3. The examinee’s school or program is conducting an on-site IFOM administration but the examinee is separated geographically from their institution
  • The IFOM Basic and Clinical Science Exams are available to individuals, in English only, at participating Prometric Test Centers located in approximately 50 countries around the world.
  • There are two 8-week test administration periods per year; registration for each administration period is open for 4 weeks.
  • Find the exam dates for registration, status verification, and testing in this link.

Download the candidate brochure

How to Apply for IFOM?

  • To be eligible to take IFOM exams as an individual, you must be a current medical student or a medical school graduate. NBME and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates® (ECFMG(link is external)) will confirm your status with your medical school through a verification process.
  • How to Apply for IFOM Exams as an Individual: For complete and detailed information about IFOM exam individual administration, please read the Candidate Brochure.
    1. Register for your exam on MyNBME(link is external). Registration is only possible during the registration periods listed above.
    2. Pay for the exam with a major credit card. The costs shown below include the exam fee, eligibility verification, and seat time at the Prometric Test Center.
    3. Download the Status Verification Form, which you will send to your medical school. Officials at your medical school will complete the form and send it directly to the ECFMG. ECFMG must receive the required paperwork no later than one week prior to the start of the test window or you will not be permitted to take the exam.
    4. After your eligibility is verified, you will receive a testing permit by email and will then visit the Prometric website(link is external) to choose a test site and time.

Preparing for Your IFOM Exam

  • Examinees can familiarize themselves with the IFOM Basic & Clinical Science Exam web-based format by using the free 20-question online practice exams. Both timed and untimed versions are available.
  • In addition to the IFOM Clinical Science Practice Exam, the IFOM Clinical Science Self-Assessment Exam is an 80-question web-based exam built to the same content blueprint as the IFOM Clinical Science Exam. Learn more on the Taking a Self-Assessment page
  • Note: The practice exams are NOT intended to assist examinees in preparing for the content of the exam; it is only intended to familiarize examinees with the style and format of test questions they are likely to see on the IFOM exams if administered on the web.

Also Read:

  1. IFOM eXAM Score Reports
  2. IFOM Exam Rules & Conduct
  3. IFOM EXAM Resources

Also Watch:

  • How to prepare for IFOM examinations?



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