BUSM Laptop and Tablet Requirement
Boston University School of Medicine requires incoming MD students to have a laptop and tablet computer to access course content and to use for examinations. While all of the instruction materials will run under either the Macintosh or the Windows platform, the decision whether to purchase a Macintosh or a Windows-based computer must be made by each student.
Many students find the use of a tablet (Android, IOS, Chrome) facilitates note-taking, highlighting and indexing of content using the available tablet applications. Please see details in the next section for minimum requirements since some required software (such as ExamSoft’s SofTest and NBME’s Secure Browser) is not fully supported on many types of tablets.
Laptops are required for the BUSM I Histology course (virtual microscopy), course examinations, and testing by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). Wireless internet connections, and some power outlets support laptop use in the Alumni Medical Library, large lecture halls, and common spaces and study spaces throughout the medical campus. Wireless and mobile (smartphones, tablets etc.) printing is available in the Library and in the L-Basement.
Student laptops must meet the minimum requirements listed below. Additional suggested options for consideration are likewise included below. Please visit the BU Sourcing & Procurement website for recommendations. You may also visit BU Information Services & Technology (IS&T) Shop Online site for links to Lenovo BU, Dell BU, and Apple BU (Apple requires BU login) as well as Adobe and Microsoft software.
Students can have their laptops registered with the Boston University Police Department to aid in theft deterrent and enable return of stolen or lost laptops. Registration for students is free of charge.
Once students have obtained a BU login name and Kerberos password, they can download and install McAfee anti-virus software free of charge. This includes the spyware portion and all future updates. Other anti-virus software must be removed before installing McAfee. Also, Microsoft Office for BU Students is available for a free download, with permission to download only one copy of EACH version of Office (Mac OS and Windows) offered (BU login required).
Minimum Requirements for BUSM Tablet and Laptop Computers
ExamSoft’s SofTest Requirements:
- Hardware = iPad 3+, iPad Air+, iPad Mini+, and iPad Pro
- Operating System = iOS 8, iOS 9 and iOS 10. Only genuine versions of iOS are supported
- 500 MB of free space required to commence an exam
- iPad must not be Jailbroken
SofTest-M iPad Requirements(See iPad Requirements)
- Surface Pro 1, 2, & 4 (Non-Pro Surface devices are NOT supported)
- Surface 3 (Pro and Non-Pro devices ARE supported)
- External Keyboard (USB or Bluetooth) required. Bluetooth keyboards must be paired prior to launching exam
- Hard Drive: 1GB or higher available space
- Adobe Reader XI is required for exams containing PDF attachments
- For onsite support, a working USB port is required (Newer devices may require an adaptor)
- Internet connection for SofTest Download, Registration, Exam Download and Upload
- Screen Resolution must be 1920x1080
- Administrator level account permissions
Surface Pro Requirements:(See Surface Pro Requirements)
NBME Requirements:(See NBME Best Practices for Web-based Testing on Wireless Networks)
- iPad/Tablet Requirements: iPads/Tablets are NOT allowed
- Laptops with integrated touchscreens are NOT allowed*
- Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and later generations are supported. *Touchscreen capability of Surface Pro computers should be temporarily disabled prior to taking the exam
Surface Pro Requirements:
Both ExamSoft’s SofTest and NBME requires an External Keyboard, either USB or Bluetooth. Bluetooth keyboards must be paired prior to launching exam. An external mouse might be easier to use compared to a built-in touchpad mouse but it’s not a must.
Both ExamSoft’s SofTest and NBME’s web based tests cannot be used on virtual operating systems such as Microsoft's Virtual Machine, Parallels, VMware, VMware Fusion or any other virtual environments.
ExamSoft’s SofTest & NBME PC (Windows) and Mac (OS X & macOS) Requirements:(See PC requirements, Mac requirements)
- 1.86Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo or greater processor (PCs or Macs)
- RAM: highest recommended for the operating system or 2GB (*see RAM upgrade recommendation below)
- Hard Drive: highest recommended for the operating system or 1GB of available space
- Minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768 is required with 32 bit color setting
- Wi-Fi (802.11a,b,g,n)
- At least 4 hours of actual battery life. Batteries are consumable products and their performance degrades over time. You may need to replace your batteries when run time is no longer sufficient
- Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10 for PCs, Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9, OS X Yosemite 10.10, OS X El Capitan 10.11, macOS Sierra 10.12 for Macs
- Updated Virus and Spyware Protection (free-of-charge McAfee anti-virus software provided by BU or equivalent Anti-Virus Software)
- Recommended browsers include Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer (PCs only) and Safari. Do not use beta versions of these browsers. Please check with your faculty and instructors for preferred browser(s) for a particular class or exam
Optional Considerations Prior to Laptop Purchase
- Upgrade to faster processor to improve performance
- Upgrade hard drive to 256 GB or bigger capacity Solid State Drive (SSD) to improve performance
- Upgrade to 8 GB RAM or more. Some systems offer this as a standard. Increasing RAM will improve performance of computer, but in some cases RAM cannot be upgraded
- Upgrade to larger battery if weight is not a concern to increase the time laptop can be used without having to plug into a power outlet for recharge. Be aware that batteries degrade over time and must be replaced when run time is no longer sufficient
- Purchase screen size 13" or bigger. A larger screen generally provides higher resolution and therefore more information on the screen at one time. If scrolling is a problem, particularly during an exam, then consider a computer with a larger screen. A full size keyboard is suggested, but going beyond a 15" screen is not recommended due to added weight
- Certain software packages (like SAS) used by some students may require the Windows OS and if used on a Mac would require the additional purchase of the appropriate Windows OS and a virtualization software like VirtualBox (preferred, free), VMware, or Parallels Desktop
- Consider purchasing a "no fault" protection plan
- Be aware that certain models of Macbook and PC notebooks do not have a Kensington Security Slot nor will user be able to do any upgrades, including changing the battery
The Alumni Medical Library's Computing Services Help Desk staff, based in L-1109, will provide assistance with student laptops after matriculation, including providing a laptop loaner service for students whose computers are being serviced by BU or outside repair shops. For more information about school or department related software, please contact your school's administrator. Please contact Jason Yee, Head of Library Computing Services, by email at email@example.com or telephone (617) 638-4279, or Selim Hascelik, Assistant Director of Library Computing & Systems by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (617) 638-6696 for additional information.