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Pediatric Board Questions – 3 Strategies to Skyrocket Your Score!

ARE TEST QUESTIONS LIKE MINI-PATIENTS?

Doctor Examining ComputerNO! Pediatric board questions are NOT like mini-patients.

Don’t believe me? Well, by the end of this article you’re going to:

  1. Learn the difference between real life patients and test patients
  2. Learn 3 strategies towards correctly answering board-style questions that you can put into practice IMMEDIATELY to increase your board score
  3. Become familiar with free and paid resources at your disposal to help you work on your test-taking techniques
  4. Feel inspired to approach board-style questions as 75-second puzzles rather than stressful patient encounters

A SAMPLE PEDIATRIC BOARD REVIEW QUESTION

How would you proceed with the little girl below? It’s a short question, so please set your timer to 60 seconds, read the question below and commit to ONE answer choice. 

A 3-year-old female toddler presents for a routine well child visit. You note an abdominal mass on exam. You suspect the child may have a Wilms tumor. There have not been any urinary symptoms, but urine dipstick shows evidence of blood. There’s a history of breast cancer in the family. 

Which of the following is the most appropriate diagnostic test to determine the cause of the patient’s abdominal mass?

A. CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis

B. Complete urinalysis

C. Oncology referral

D. Biopsy of the mass

E. BRCA gene testing

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QUESTION: What’s The Diagnosis In This Child With Lower Extremity Pain?

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A child presents with a PAINFUL lower extremity. The pediatric board question states that he also has “decreased exercise tolerance.” You’re asked to identify the disorder. His cardiac and pulmonary exam are unremarkable but an x-ray of a LONG BONE is shown with various findings. Of the multiple findings in the images below, the white arrow points to the “classic” finding associated with this disorder.

QUESTIONS:

1. Can you name the disorder?

2. Can you name the classic findings shown in the images?

Classic x-ray findings shown in this child with leg pain

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How Many AAP PREP Questions Should I Do?

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS (AAP) PREP DISCLAIMER

PRACTICE VERSUS STUDY – A BIG DIFFERENCE

I love the American Academy of Pediatrics' PREP series of questions for PRACTICING test-taking skills, but NOT as a substitution for studying for the boards form a board-focused study guide.

The difference can be confusing! That is why it's IMPERATIVE that you understand my thoughts on why PREP questions are NOT the best study questions before you read the rest of this article. The gist is that it's almost impossible for any question bank out there to give you a comprehensive, board-focused review of what you need to know for the pediatric boards. Therefore, you should focus on one, primary study resource for the CONTENT, and then use question banks for PRACTICE of board-style questions.

THE REAL VALUE OF AAP PREP QUESTIONS – PRACTICE

Where does the real value lie in PREP questions as they relate to your preparation for the American Board of Pediatrics initial certification exam or MOC exam? Or perhaps a better would aim to address that misperception that you “must” go through PREP questions in order to pass the boards.

While I do feel that they are the BEST pediatric board review questions to simulate the boards, I also believe that ANY pediatric board review question bank will help you PRACTICE your test-taking techniques.

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I also believe that you SHOULD use other question banks to practice your skills as a test-taker so that you can gain exposure to a VARIETY of question styles and question-writers. The ABP's questions were not developed by one person. They have been slowly created over decades by MANY questions-writers, including myself.

Dr. Robin Scott, a PBR Alum, summed it up VERY WELL in her message below.

I did not look at PREP at all. I passed the 2013 exam after multiple prior attempts by reading PBR, taking the [Test-Taking Strategies] course and practicing hundreds of questions (from Board Vitals). I used questions just for practice, not for content. I asked Ashish about using other sources outside of PBR; I wanted to study/memorize all of MedStudy pediatrics. He dissuaded me. I was skeptical, but I had nothing to lose so I did what he recommended. That's my story, and I'm here to say it worked!”

– Dr. Robin Scott

PRACTICE

Again, PRACTICE is the absolute best reason to use any board-style prep questions. You must NOT confuse practicing test questions with building knowledge, but since we all have a desire to review the answers (discussed more in detail below), this particular series of questions is probably the BEST pediatric question bank you could use. The AAP's questions have likely been vetted to the nth degree, and you can usually be sure that the correct answer is in fact correct. They also seem to be a good mix of short and long questions.

  • PRACTICE TIMING: Since the questions are often LONG, they are perfect for allowing you to work on your TIMING. Give yourself the same same amount of time you'll give yourself on the exam. About 1 minute and 15 seconds per question. Once you have broken down and “processed the question” to the best of your abilities, if you still can't narrow down your search to a single answer then GUESS, MARK IT, an GO on to the next question!
  • PRACTICE DISCIPLINE: It takes a great deal of discipline to move through questions at a regular pace. The more often you do it, the more likely this will become a habit for you. You must get comfortable with the idea of processing questions in a systematic manner so that you always have an endpoint to the question in front of you. Getting to that realization is CRITICAL in allowing you calmly move on to the next question without frustration and anxiety.
  • PRACTICE AVOIDING TRAPS: You have to be able to look for Click Here And Continue Reading…