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
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
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
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
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
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
There are countless ways to study, and you may already know what works best for you. But if you find that you study materials and then do not really remember them when you need them, you might want to try this program.
The first priority is to have accurate targeting of the material you want to learn. When I work with individuals, I look at their board scores and I help them to decide which areas they need to focus… 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
So, you’ve spent the hours reviewing all of the important details for your exam. You’ve done your best to target the weak areas, spending extra time focusing on topics that you didn’t quite master the first time through. And, perhaps most importantly, you’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort doing practice questions and exams—all written by different authors—completed with time constraints in a variety of environments. By all measures, you are ready for this exam.
Once in the… READ MORE
Studying for the General Surgery Boards is similar to studying for USMLE Step 1; you have already been taught everything that you need to know for the exam, but at the same time you have no idea what to expect or how to study. The ABSITE is a good way to test your knowledge throughout residency, but no matter how well (or poorly) you perform, it does not prepare you enough to pass the boards.
I am writing this post… READ MORE