Last updated on August 25th, 2023
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 busy daily work as physicians. 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 of pumping iron for your board exams includes practicing taking long exams. I like to do this on a Saturday or a Sunday morning when I can set aside at least four hours to take exams on a continuous basis. It’s not as fun as brunch, but it helps me more than brunch would to pass my exam.
Find several sample practice exams and take them back-to-back. You can take small breaks like you would be allocated during the real boards. However, go at it hard, this is about learning to sustain your performance.
Some people do well by taking multiple practice exams. Others do well by taking sample questions and dissecting them so they thoroughly understand the material that is being tested. They learn the relevant facts so they can get the correct answer no matter how the question formatted on the next exam they encounter.
As to actually pumping iron, that may be relevant too. We used to think that weight training just improved muscle function, but now we know it can also enhance our memory and overall wellbeing. But evidence shows that building muscle also has similar benefits to aerobic exercise in many ways. But, it also is key to producing substances that enhance overall well-being and improve your metabolism. 70% of glucose metabolism happens in skeletal muscle. Since regulation of glucose metabolism is key for having a steady source of fuel for the function of the brain and key organs, it is logical that weight training itself can benefit your overall physiology and metabolism.
Other forms of exercise such as aerobics, fast walking, and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are all potentially relevant as well. They improve overall well-being, decrease anxiety, and improve brain function. HIIT in particular is the best way to boost BDNF- Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is a key player in increasing connectivity of nerve cells.
So there you have it -at the gym or cracking the books, crank up the intensity to increase your chance of smoking your boards.
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