This week we completed our 5-Day Psychiatry Board Prep Course in Chicagoland. (It was great to see and speak with so many colleagues there.) At the course I received several questions from our attendees about what turns out to be a single problem described in different ways. The problem is a manifestation of one type of perfectionism. It arises as a feeling of a strong need to get complete and/or definitive information about a case described in an exam case… READ MORE
Preparing for your board exam can be done alone or with a partner or group. (From now on, I’ll write ‘group’ when referring to group or single partner.) Studying in a group has several pros and cons, which I cover in this article. Depending on the learner, either the pros or the cons of group study can predominate. Thus, group study is not for everyone. For those for whom group study is a net positive, it can be the main… 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
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
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
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
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
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
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… 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
Every multiple-choice exam question is presented to you on the exam only after being vetted to be clinically relevant and fair. (Note that there are a certain percentage – maybe 10-15% – of MCQs included in exams that are under assessment and not counted in results until they pass muster. This does lead exam candidates to sometimes scratch their heads when reading poorly written questions. These questions will likely be revised or retired.)
Simply put, the boards are not trying… READ MORE
The knowledge of the test-taker regarding the details of numerous treatment interventions gets tested on the board exams. It is important to know the situations in which to select a specific treatment intervention. In addition to this, you should also have knowledge of the details of particular treatment interventions. Therefore, the question is: “how much knowledge should one have regarding the details of various treatment interventions for the purposes of board exams?”
There are certain treatment interventions that are delivered… READ MORE
Whether preparing for an exam related to maintenance of certification, a primary exam of certification, or some other type of important exam, you undoubtedly have many reading materials at your disposal. In these scenarios, our effort is likely devoted to reading and re-reading material again and again. Unfortunately, though, scientific literature actually indicates that this sort of process of learning is not optimal, and may actually take a fair bit more time than a much simpler process—trying to recall the… READ MORE
Clinical knowledge is primarily tested in medical board exams. Commonly asked questions assess the knowledge regarding treatment interventions. The following three different aspects of treatment can be tested:
Specific treatment intervention details
Treatments by disease variants and in specific populations
This post is focused on treatment algorithms. Treatment algorithms are described as an ordering of treatment interventions in ranks starting with first-line treatments followed by second-line, third-line, and fourth-line treatment interventions, eventually ending at the last-line treatment intervention.… READ MORE
I received a request from a colleague preparing for their board exam. Today I tackle this fairly common problem by explaining procrastination, its formation and treatment.
Procrastination is a type of avoidance, and avoidance is a common strategy used by many to cope with unpleasant life situations and also is part of several psychiatric conditions. Any disorder with “phobia” in its name is a type of avoidance. The problem with avoidance is that often it is counter-productive and makes the… READ MORE
I’m about to tell you something so obvious you may want to throw something at me. Despite the apparent obviousness, many exam candidates still will make the mistake I’m about to describe and do so for entirely understandable reasons. Let me explain.
On the day (or several days) prior to your exam, your anxiety level likely will increase. You may realize you are not as prepared as you would like to be and regret not devoting more time to preparing.… READ MORE