SAEMlogoThis is is a great look back at how SAEM Tests were developed and now used by EM clerkships across the country. Because EM does not have a National Board of Medical Examiners shelf exam, a tremendous effort was made by the authors to create a set of validated questions for clerkship directors to use.

Specifically point serial correlation coefficients (range -1 to +1) were calculated for each question. A high coefficient means a high correlation between the performance on the individual test question and the performance on the overall test. After rewriting 25% of the test questions because of poor correlation coefficients, all current test questions now have a point serial correlation coefficient >0.2.

SAEM Tests (

  • Started in June 2005
  • 24 individual tests covering a spectrum of topics
  • 565 test questions

Currently the tests are used mostly for formative (self-learning) purposes, but the hope is that there can be a standardized, summative “shelf-like” test for clerkships. There is currently a pilot “proctored” test, which is comprised of the most validated test questions.

Sorry for the delay in posting this review (watching closing ceremonies of Olympics)! Check out this article to see how tests are built and validated.

Senecal EL, Thomas SH. Beeson MS. A Four-Year Perspective of Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Tests: An Online Testing Tool for Medical Students. Acad Emerg Med 2009; 16:S42–S45.


Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD