Paediatric Shelf Exam (Meaning, Study tips, Exam tips, Benefits)

The Paediatric Shelf Exam is a test that evaluates the professional abilities of medical school students desiring to practice paediatrics.

It is a professional exam that also measures the academic abilities of these students.

Hence, to excel in the Paediatric Shelf exam, candidates must apply the study tips discussed in this article and take note of the important information about the exam that will be shared in this article. 

What is a Paediatric Shelf Exam?

The Paediatric Shelf Exam is a high-level medical exam that measures the abilities of aspiring medical doctors seeking to pursue a career in Paediatrics.

This exam assesses an individual’s ability to provide medical care to kids and adolescents and examines their practical capabilities in administering medical skills.

Aspiring Paediatricians take it in the third year of medical school after completing their clerkships.

However, Paediatric Shelf Exam may be slightly difficult, but unlike most standardized professional medical exams, questions are developed from the educational lessons shared in class.

Therefore, the exam serves as a professional medical exam that measures the academic strengths of aspiring Paediatricians.

Tips to note about the Paediatric Shelf Exam:

To pass the exam with excellent scores, take note of the following details;

High-level topics: 

Questions in the Paediatric Shelf Exam centre around high-level medical topics like gait abnormalities and gastrointestinal complaints.

Also, this test focus on patient presentation and classic illness scripts, congenital heart disease, viral exanthems, developmental milestones, type 1 diabetes, and sickle cell anaemia.

Paediatric Subject Exam:

The Paediatric Shelf Exam is not a prerequisite for medical licensure because candidates who have completed their clerkship can take the Clinical Paediatric Subject Examination. 

Question make-up:

The Paediatric Shelf Exam comprises questions developed from expired USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK questions. 

Test type:

The Paediatric Shelf Exam is a Computer-Based Test (CBT).

Total number of questions:

There are a total of 110 questions in the exam.


This exam lasts for 165 minutes only.


The Paediatric Shelf Exam is licensed by the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and the National Medical Examiners (NBME).


The exam is conducted at authorized Prometric test centres across the country.

Recommended Textbooks:

To excel in the Paediatric Shelf Exam, read Pre-Test: A+, the 14th edition of Paediatric Self-Assessment and Review, UWORLD, BRS Paediatrics, and the NBME Paediatric Practice.

Effect of the Paediatric Shelf Exam:

The Paediatric Shelf Exam accounts for at least 20% of a student’s final medical school result, with clinical performance determining a whopping 80% of final grades.

Question pattern:

The exam adopts a Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) format.

Passing score:

The passing score on Paediatric Shelf Exam is Family/rural higher than 2SD below mean, IM higher than 60, OB above 59, Peds above 60, Surgery above 60, Neuro above 60, and Psych above 60.


There are no breaks in the Paediatric Shelf Exam.

Release of result:

Candidates’ scores are released within 2 to 3 days after the end of the testing process.

Effect of failure:

Failing the Paediatric Shelf Exam for a second time has some dire consequences.

Students that fail the Shelf exam will receive an F grade in their clerkship, and must re-enroll in the clerkship program before they can re-sit the Paediatric Shelf exam.


Students that fail their second attempt at the Paediatric Shelf exam in their second clerkship program may be dismissed from their medical program.

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Study tips for Paediatric Shelf Exam:

Have a good knowledge of Normal Childhood development: 

A good number of questions in the Paediatric Shelf Exam focus on Normal Childhood development, which is a high-level topic.

Thus, as you study other high-level topics, have a good knowledge of Normal Childhood development.

Apply your clerkship experience:

Paediatric Shelf Exam questions are quite hypothetical.

Hence, picking a correct answer is difficult. However, when tested on questions bothering patient treatment and care, apply your clerkship experiences to pick the correct answer.

Although it’s not easy in any way, studying potential medical scenarios and their solutions will hint you at the possible answer. 

Know your pediatric vitals:

Paediatric Shelf Exam questions also centre majorly on paediatric vitals.

Hence, although you are not required to predict children’s heart rate and respiratory rate values, know the dangerous health-measurement values of babies and adolescents.

Create a study schedule:

Paediatric Shelf Exam requires maximum preparation. To prepare effectively, at least 10 hours of study are required daily.

Hence, develop a study schedule that will help you cover the recommended materials and textbooks before the examination.

Last-minute readings only encourage cramming, which is very disastrous in the medical field.

Nevertheless, once you create a study schedule, be disciplined enough to stick to it.

Consider academic performances:

If questions are presented on child behavioral challenges, answer them by considering the child’s academic performances in a school, which is mostly the driving force behind behavioral problems.

Take regular breaks:

Don’t dedicate all your time to studying. However, break off your reading sessions with a long period of rest.

Also, don’t allow your studies to stop you from exercising in the morning and doing a few leisure activities like seeing a movie much later in the day, which are boosters that will enhance your brains’ performance.

Choose the recommended review materials: 

Pre-Test: A+, the 14th edition of Paediatric Self-Assessment and Review, UWORLD, BRS Paediatrics, and the NBME Paediatric Practice are recommended review materials for the Paediatric Shelf exam.

Hence, don’t try to overwhelm yourself by reading too many materials.

Rather, study those materials carefully to reduce your workload and keep yourself focused on the areas of concentration.

Do enough practice questions:

Do numerous practice questions before the exams. Doing good practice questions will prepare you perfectly for the exams and improve your knowledge ahead of the exam.

Also, you would familiarize yourself with the nature and pattern of questions in the Paediatric Shelf exam, which helps you prepare effectively.

Start studying early:

Don’t wait till the last few moments before studying for the exam. Rather, organize yourself early enough by acquiring the recommended materials and developing a study schedule that suits you perfectly.

Moreover, early preparation helps you cover the high-level topics on time.

Read this: How many times can you take the MCAT?

Benefits of pursuing a career in Paediatric:

The medical field is very tasking and stressful.

Nevertheless, it is a highly rewarding career. Paediatricians play a key role in sustaining the lives of children and adolescents, which is an invaluable career pathway.

Though passing the Paediatric Shelf exam is very important if you wish to become a Paediatrician, here are some amazing benefits you will enjoy when you become a Paediatrician;

High pay:

Paediatricians are one of the highest-paid professionals in the health sector. Due to the specialized nature of services they provide, hospitals pay them incredible salaries.

In addition to their salaries, they also receive health insurance, retirement benefits, and other intriguing incentives that make their job worthwhile.

Variety of career specialties:

As a Paediatrician, you have a wide variety of specialties to focus your career on. Whether it is cardiology, child abuse, endocrinology, or oncology, there are numerous career options for you, and each of them attracts high salaries.

High job potential:

Paediatricians have one of the highest job potentials in the world. They can work in general hospitals or private hospitals worldwide.

Also, Paediatricians can work in children’s hospitals, universities, or teaching hospitals. Moreover, countless NGOs are always on the lookout to employ Paediatricians. 

High demand:

Paediatricians are professionals in high demand. Due to many children in the world, most hospitals have concern for children more than adults.

Moreover, most humanitarian health responses from seasoned NGOs like WHO and the Red Cross aims at providing quality health care to children.

Hence, no matter your location, you would get a job if you become a paediatrician.

Flexible working hours:

As a paediatrician, you can work for as long as you like. Moreover, you can also work on a part-time basis.

This is very good compared to other medical specialties that have to work for more than 17 hours a day to conduct surgeries and run diagnoses.

Career fulfilment:

Sustaining the lives of children is a priceless act, and a career in paediatrics offers an opportunity for you to treat children and save lives which attracts huge professional satisfaction.

A thrilling profession: 

Interacting with countless children regularly is so much fun. From the diagnosis stage to when they finally get discharged, constantly relating with children is one thing you would never get tired of.


The Paediatric Shelf Exam is a professional exam that assesses third-year medical school students’ practical knowledge and academic abilities.

These medical students take this exam immediately after their clerkship tests their professional abilities in the paediatric specialty.

Although, Paediatric Shelf Exam is not mandatory for a medical license, excelling in this exam is relevant to the academic progress of medical students.

Hence, this article is highly recommended for third year medical students as it contains all the relevant information about the Paediatric Shelf Exam and some study tips that will reproduce outstanding results.

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