How to Boost Your Scores With the AMBOSS Personal Study Analysis

Sean Robert Huff, MD - Nov 26, 2021
Medical student reviewing AMBOSS analysis section on her computer with examples of analysis charts and graphs set behind her.

Medical students are well aware of the wealth of information they need to study. Whether you opt for long-term study schedules or short-term cramming, you’re likely trying to fit as much information as you can into your brain. 

Optimizing your study efforts is crucial to succeeding on USMLE® Step or NBME® Shelf exams, where small differences in knowledge or reasoning can make a big difference on exam day. But when you’re in the thick of your studying, how can you get an accurate assessment of your knowledge and focus your time accordingly?

Simply turn to your own personal analysis in AMBOSS and find out exactly where you need to focus your attention to succeed.

Revise your study approach with personalized recommendations

The AMBOSS analysis section gives you a complete overview of your latest Qbank session or your overall Qbank history.

Using the upper portion of the analysis page wisely can help you with the following:

Revise your test-taking habits: Up at the top of your analysis (found in the dashboard when you log in to your AMBOSS account), you’ll see your track record that has built up since you first started using the platform to study for a given exam (your AMBOSS study Objective).

As you progress through the Qbank, one metric that should go down over time is the ‘time per question.’ This reflects increasing familiarity with the content of the exam, and an ability to parse the leading paragraph of Step and Shelf questions quickly. 

Do note, however, that time you spent reviewing each question is not included in the ‘time per question’ statistic. This means that your review practices will not also impact this figure. As a general rule, spending about 1m20s on each question is a good mark to aim for when trying to optimize your performance on test day.

Develop an honest picture of your performance: The breakdown of your answer choices can also help make your studies more efficient. For starters, AMBOSS categorizes your question bank responses into three groups: ‘correct,’ ‘correct with help,’ and ‘incorrect.’

Analysis 1

Just as it sounds, the ‘correct’ metric tracks the rate at which you answer questions correctly.

‘Correct with help’ refers to instances in which you use AMBOSS’s learning tools (below) like Key Info or Attending Tip. Both of these tools are unique to AMBOSS’ study mode and can help you learn from even the questions you’re not quite sure how to approach. 

Lastly, ‘incorrect’ reflects questions that you did not answer correctly, irrespective of whether you used AMBOSS’ learning tools before submitting your answer.

Over time, you may notice the mix of colors on your pie chart begin to evolve. Firstly, the green strip should lengthen while the red strip contracts; this reflects your learning progress and is a reason for celebration!

The yellow strip may shrink, expand, or stay the same over time; this could mean that the way you use AMBOSS is evolving, using its special features more or less with time. Alternatively, a change in the yellow strip could reflect increased knowledge or confidence.

As there are multiple factors that influence your AMBOSS ‘percentage correct’, we recommend that you don’t compare your performance in AMBOSS to those of other question banks that you may be using. Instead of trying to predict your score based on AMBOSS analytics, we recommend focusing on changes in your percentile correct over time; this tells you that you’re doing the learning which will help you to succeed on exam day.

Know where you stand: One aspect of the AMBOSS analysis section that might at first be intimidating to you is the ‘peer group comparison.’ This figure is based on a statistical model that compares your performance on the questions you’ve completed to other AMBOSS users who have completed those same questions.

Analysis 2When interpreting this metric, it’s important to remember the following: the timing of your exam is something that AMBOSS does not take into account when calculating peer comparisons. For example, if your Step 1 exam is more than six months away, don’t overthink the results of a peer comparison that includes many individuals already in their dedicated study period.

As with other analysis metrics, it’s important for you to focus on change over time; how this statistic evolves will tell you more about your studies than just a snapshot in time.

Fine tune your content mix with personalized recommendations

As you move down the dashboard, you’ll come across the 'study recommendations' section. This information is more granular and personalized. Here, AMBOSS utilizes your previous performance to provide recommendations about how to move forward in the future. (Please note: AMBOSS cannot assess performance regarding topics that you have not yet completed in the AMBOSS Qbank!)

AMBOSS’ study recommendations section provides links to a number of relevant topics, disciplines, and systems, each with links to the AMBOSS articles and questions that are likely helpful to you. These topics are listed in order of their relative importance on the exam you’re studying for. That is, topics listed at the top are more likely to show up on exam day relative to those at the bottom.

Interpreting the color bars can be a little challenging at first. But, if you keep the following principles in mind, you’ll easily understand them:

  • The red, yellow, and green bars reflect the proportion of questions on a given topic that you’ve completed. The gray portion of the bar reflects the remaining questions on that topic.
  • The colors reflect the same performance categories as in the section above: Green is ‘correct,’ yellow is ‘correct with help,’ and red is ‘incorrect.’
  • The length of the whole bar is the same for each topic, no matter how many questions are featured in the Qbank on that topic. Therefore, answering two of two (2/2) questions for a certain topic incorrectly will leave the bar completely red. Don’t read too much into this!

To act on the insights provided by this section, click on any of the topics listed and you’ll be taken directly to that specific article in the library. Start reviewing the article’s content right away, or use the article as a launchpad into the Qbank so that you can answer topic-specific questions.  While you’re in the article, be sure to enable Learning Radar, so you can have a glance at the content you’ve missed before:

Alternatively, skip the article altogether and hop directly into the Qbank to revise your previously completed questions or challenge yourself with the remaining questions.

AMBOSS is there to help you assess your knowledge and provide a study strategy that will leave you feeling confident on exam day. You can take this even further by creating your own personalized study plan within AMBOSS. Try it today!