Last updated on June 1st, 2023
Many of you know the quotation from Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks he replied: “Because that’s where the money is.” When seeing patients or studying for the board exam, it is equally true that time IS money. So you need to go where the money is!
So, what conclusions does that lead to in terms of what are reasonable study aids you can use to focus your time efficiently? Courses and practice exams from American Physician Institute are an excellent place to start.
Other good choices include prior in-training exams. Questions on these exams come from the same or similar pools as those used on the board exam itself. Even if it is not the exact question, it may be the exact same facts that are being tested in a question that is worded differently. That will allow you to target areas the board has emphasized again and again.
I always recommend studying the wrong answers, the distractors, as well as the right answers. The wrong answers contain information that the item writer thought was relevant to Family Medicine in general and the area of the topic specifically, so they included them to distract you from the right answer. But the next question they write, or next year’s question, might be about the information contained in the distractor. So, I always recommend studying this material, too, because it increases the field of relevance for the material you study. This allows you to get an understanding of what those writing the exam think is relevant information to the field.
For the module exams, if you really want to study in-depth, you can go a step further. You can get board review books from the specialty of the module you were studying. For instance, if you are going to take the Women’s Health module, you could get a Gynecology board review book. I did that last time I took the Family Medicine Boards and got 100% of the GYN questions right, so I know it works. If you were going to take the Pediatrics module, you could get a Pediatrics review book, and so on.
Finally, you want to concentrate your studies and areas that represent a large part of your exam score. The modular you choose represents 13% of your score. Other areas that have a large representation in the range of 10% include Cardiology, Pulmonology, and Musculoskeletal Medicine (which includes both Orthopedics and Rheumatology).
By focusing on these highly relevant areas, you can concentrate on your studies in areas that are most likely to improve your overall board score and, hence, your chances of passing the board exam.