The prospect of taking a board examination can be one of the most daunting endeavors in medical education. Regardless of your level of training, the time, money, effort, and stress-related to board exams intermittently become the primary focus of your life. Some individuals appear to be “great test takers” and can breeze through these exams with ease. On the other hand, some might appear to be “horrible test takers” because they struggle at every attempt. For most of us, however,… READ MORE
Let’s face it; the “Board Exam” is a one-day test. However, it is so much more than a one-day experience. No matter what your specialty, preparation for your board exam begins months to years before the test day. The experience of that day will live with you for months to years even after you finish the board exam.
Here are some strategies to implement before, during, and after your exam to have your best possible testing experience:
Before the Board… READ MORE
Family medicine board exams mainly test the clinical knowledge of the test-taker. Therefore, a number of questions in these exams are based on assessing your knowledge regarding various treatment interventions. Three significant aspects of treatment interventions may be tested:
Treatment interventions in specific patient populations and in different variants of the disease
Details of particular treatment interventions
Treatment algorithms are the primary focus of this blog post. A rank ordering of treatment options, starting off with first-line treatment… READ MORE
Okay, I can’t resist. Since I used to be a Magician – “Pick a module, any module, don’t let me see which one.”
If you are right out of training and your residency included Obstetrics and a lot of hospital rotations, you might actually be able to pass any module you choose. But if you have been in practice for a while, and your interests have narrowed, then your knowledge base has probably narrowed as well. If this is the… READ MORE
Below is a transcription of the video (it has been edited for clarity):
Many physicians who do poorly on their boards feel frustrated by underperforming on their exam in relation to their medical knowledge and confused by not knowing how to fix this performance gap. Here I explore the first of five contributors to medical board exam underperformance and provide solutions.
Poor Focus on Exam Question Due to Anxiety
One cause of poor board exam performance is a lack of… READ MORE
As a physician, you have a lot on your plate—a full clinic, a pile of dictations, an office meeting you are leading, followed by overnight call and a paper that you have been meaning to write for a few months. Whew! Where are you to find time to study for boards? Well, medicine is a balancing act, and you will need to recreate that harmony to fit board studying into your busy physician’s life.
We all have twenty-four… READ MORE
The medical boards present multiple-choice questions that are fair and clinically relevant with pride. Simply meaning, they are not trying to trick you. Most of the case vignettes present a patient with a common form of the condition or disease, as these common forms are the ones assessed and treated by most physicians. On the other hand, as clinicians, we should be able to recognize rare disorders. Hence, the question is, how do you figure out if the question is… READ MORE
No, I’m not talking about the “dark web” or anything controversial. I’m talking about something that is much more subtle and potentially devastating to your board review strategies – the allure of more interesting things you will encounter while looking up answers you need.
I treat looking up a fact I need while studying for the boards like going into a dark alley. I increase my alertness, look around for what I came for, grab it, and get out quick.… READ MORE
Board exams assess your knowledge regarding the details of myriads of treatment interventions that are used to treat diverse medical conditions. You are expected to have a knowledge of the details of each of these specific treatment interventions, in addition to knowing the situations in which to give preference to one particular intervention over another. Therefore, it is important to know how much knowledge of the details regarding a particular treatment intervention you should have.
There are certain treatment interventions… READ MORE
Stress can you ruin your board scores. It sounds like a cliché but actually it is true! Stress leads to fight, flight, or freeze scenarios. When our autonomic nervous systems are out of balance, we can go into overdrive or we can freeze up completely depending upon whether the adrenergic nervous system or the parasympathetic nervous system is over-activated. Neither one of these is helpful for a good outcome in your test scores.
Acute stress and chronic stress can both… READ MORE
When preparing for medical board exams, it is important to remember that they are primarily testing your clinical knowledge. Therefore, expect to find many questions that will assess your knowledge about treatment modalities and which interventions are the most appropriate for each case. You can be tested on the details regarding a specific intervention, the most suitable treatment in particular populations and disease variants, and on treatment algorithms.
This post will be focusing on treatment algorithms. Treatment algorithms refer to… READ MORE
It turns out, there are several different types of “sweet spots” you should know about when you are picking what to study for your board exams. Some of them have to do with the types of material that the board focuses on, and some that the board avoids. Others have to do with the timeliness of the material, both in terms out how recent it is and how relevant it is to current practice.
Brand new material tends to be… READ MORE
A large percentage of questions on the board exams are based on treatment interventions, as an appropriate treatment is what a patient seeks from a physician. Three major facets of treatment are tested on board exams:
Treatments for specific variants of disease and patients belonging to specific populations
Details regarding particular treatment interventions
This post focuses on selecting the appropriate treatment intervention based on a patient’s specific variant of the disease or the patient’s specific population. Board exams… READ MORE
Sleep is important for a lot of reasons. One critical function of sleep is memory incorporation. This is when memories go from short-term storage into long-term incorporation. Obviously, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to study all day and then lose everything that you put in your brain because your sleep is inefficient or disrupted. Here are some things that can help your sleep to be more complete, deeper, and more effective.
Number 1: Know your sleep number –… READ MORE
The board exams pride themselves on not presenting questions that may trick you. In other words, the questions are fair and clinically relevant. This means that the majority of the questions will be related to a common form of a medical disorder. After all, these are the conditions that most of the physicians spend their days assessing and treating. However, it is also important for the clinician to identify the rare disorder. Hence, the question is, how to differentiate whether… READ MORE
Studying for a board exam can seem like a daunting task; the amount of knowledge required can be overwhelming. Finding time to fit studying into our busy lives is a struggle. Our natural inclination may be to just power through all of the topics as best as we can. How do you start the process and where do you focus?
Taking the time to assess our knowledge gaps and approach to questions is a critical first step. It prioritizes our… READ MORE
I think you should pump iron for your board exam – both literally and figuratively.
A board exam is unlike almost anything else we encounter in our daily work. It requires several hours of extended, high-performance to interface with the material presented, interpret it, and come up with the answers they are looking for.
To succeed in an environment like this, I suggest it is highly relevant to practice up to this level of intensity of performance. The figurative part… READ MORE
I’m here to talk about a difficult topic with you today. What do you do if you fail your board exam?
Below is a transcript of the video:
Well, the first thing you should do is to take some time to come to terms with what has happened. When you first open up that envelope and you see that you failed the exam, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. You don’t need to do anything. You… READ MORE
It’s easy to get derailed and have your study session go into a tailspin. When you are not having fun, every diversion can turn into a time trap. One thing you can do is invest your passion into learning new material or being totally up-to-date on your areas of interest. Here are five more hacks you can use to keep your studying in the “power zone”.
Paradoxically, the best study plans involve time away from study. That’s because things that… READ MORE
One way I’ve found categorizing board exam questions helpful is to view them in a hierarchy of three levels, each one building on the previous one and requiring a more use of one’s clinical judgment. My three levels are:
Know It → Recognize It → Decide It
Now let me explain and I promise this will be practically helpful and, I believe, comforting even.
This lowest level of question relies almost exclusively on recalling some specific piece of… READ MORE