Ashish Goyal, M.D.
Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Author Archives: Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Test-Taking Strategies for Medical Board Exams

CAN TEST-TAKING STRATEGIES ACTUALLY BE LEARNED?

Test-taking strategy is often overlooked when you are preparing for your board exams, yet it can be the difference between passing or failing. Since there is no question that physicians are extremely bright, why is it that even great physicians often fail their board exams?

Answer: A good clinician is not the same thing as a good test-taker.

When I failed the boards the first time, I was confused. I felt like I had a good handle on the material, but I quickly realized that how you treat a board style question is very different than how you should treat a patient. But it was too late. I had the “standard” top to bottom approach to answering board-style questions, and I ultimately failed the board exam.

I simply did not know how to approach the questions on the test effectively.

And this isn’t uncommon.

However, during my 2nd attempt at the pediatric board exam, I had a strong focus on pacing and a strategic approach to questions. That led to me not only passing my boards, but I increased my score by 160 points! I scored above the national average, and after failing the previous year, the American Board of Pediatrics asked me to write questions for them.

The skill set needed to be a master clinician is completely different than the skill set needed to be a master test-taker and win this “board-game”. Developing this strategy requires training and education like any other skill that you have had to practice. But with practice, you can have dramatic increases in your score like this member of our test-taking strategy course.

Learn Test-Taking Strategies for Medical Board Exams

HOW CAN I WORK ON MY TEST-TAKING STRATEGY?

While having a strong knowledge base is important to pass the boards, it will mean nothing if you are unable to apply what you know to the test.

If you consider yourself to be a test-taker with average (or below average) scores on standardized tests, then learning test-taking strategies can QUICKLY give you an advantage to increase your score, and pass the boards.

Plus, unlike studying for a single chapter that may be applicable to 5% of your exam, test-taking skills can be leveraged throughout 100% of this exam (and every future board exam that you ever take).

Study a ton, remember none. Sound familiar?

If you've previously done well on standardized exams, just follow the PBR “Roadmap to Success” and you will do great.

BUT, if you:

  • Struggle with standardized tests,
  • Get test anxiety,
  • Find yourself running out of time on exams,
  • Were told that you were “at-risk” of failing the boards based on IN-Training Exam scores,
  • Have taken a year off from studying for the exam, or
  • Scored less than a 222 on the USMLE Step 1

… then improving your test-taking technique is just as, if not MORE, important for you to study than the actual material.

Below you’ll find some of my top strategies I teach our PBR students to sharpen their test-taking skills before the board exam.

TOP TEST-TAKING STRATEGIES FOR MEDICAL EXAMS

  1. NEVER process a question in a top to bottom manner. Processing the information in a different order will give you much more control and clarity over the question
  2. Do not try to predict the question or answer. When you try to guess what will be asked, or what the answer will be, you waste time and energy as you think through hundreds of possibilities.
  3. Start by reading the question being asked of you, and then reading the vignette. This narrows your focus and gives you tremendous insight into what information from the vignette will be crucial to extract in order to answer the question correctly.
  4. Find your answer through the process of elimination. It’s easier, less stressful and more appropriate to eliminate weaker answer choices rather than choosing the first answer that seems to be correct.
  5. Skip “data blocks” and come back to them if needed. Most vignette-style questions can be answered by just using the text, so try that before reviewing tables of data, x-rays or images.

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Your 2018 Pediatric Board Review Books – A Sneak Peek

Your 2018 Pediatric Board Review PREVIEW (and Discounted PREORDER Code) Is Here!

2018 Pediatric Board Review Sneak Peek

Pediatric Board Review Ultimate Study GuideUnlike other board review courses, the PBR's Core Study Guide gets corrected and updated EVERY year. Many of the corrections and clarifications of the are made available to the PBR community (below) prior to the initial certification exam. This allows members to have a more secure pediatric board review experience.

For non-members who are trying to figure out how they will approach the board exam for next year, or for anyone preparing for the MOC, this is a great opportunity to essentially have a sneak peak into the 2018 edition.

In this article, you will:

  • Get a preview of the most EFFICIENT 2018 pediatric board review course available
  • Get a great review of several excellent and high-yield topics
  • Get a FREE MP3 Audio Chapter from PBR
  • Get 50 FREE High-Yield Images from PBR
  • Get a FREE Test-Taking Strategies Video Training Session
  • Get the opportunity to PREORDER the 2018 edition books for 50% off of the value of the Ultimate Bundle Pack or 85% OFF of the LIFETIME package called “PBR FOR LIFE!” Please note that the PBR FOR LIFE package is NOT typically available through the PBR catalog, so this is a SPECIAL opportunity!

A FEW WORDS OF THANKS TO THE PBR COMMUNITY

Every year I like to go through all PBR error submission and send corrections to PBR members before the initial certification exam. It’s an EXTREMELY time consuming task (takes several full days), but I believe it’s worth it.

If you have been following THE PBR EFFICIENCY BLUEPRINTthe information in this guide WILL NOT make or break your test-experience. Having said that, several test-takers have previously said that they enjoyed reading the clarifications, and that the review of the guide even helped them correctly answer several questions that came up on the exam.

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American Board of Pediatrics Accommodations for Extra Time

Getting Special Test Center Accommodations for Your Exam

Running out of Time? Get American Board of Pediatrics Accommodations for Extra Time!

Are you aware of the various American Board of Pediatrics accommodations that are available? These test accommodations are designed for pediatricians who have specific needs, and they can result in you getting twice the amount of time to take the test.

Do you have specific needs when it comes to taking tests? Do you suffer from a condition covered by the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act and subsequent ADAAA guidelines? Perhaps a condition which is going to leave you struggling for time on the boards?

If so, you might qualify for some amazing special accommodations, such as:

  • Extra time to take your exam
  • A private testing room away from all other test-takers
  • Extended break times

This article will give you the steps you need to pursue to get the special accommodations. We’ll cover important details about why the ABP offers test accommodations, which accommodations are available to you, how to apply, and most importantly – when you must apply to receive test accommodations for your board exam.

Why Does the ABP Offer Test Accommodations?

Like many standardized board exams, the American Board of Pediatrics exam must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) for people who have documented disabilities or a need for test accommodations.

Many people suffer from some sort of medical or neuropsychological condition which creates a hindrance to test taking. Test accommodations are intended to give everyone an equal chance at passing the board exams. 

American Board of Pediatrics Accommodations - Balancing the Scales

If you believe that you may qualify for a test accommodation, Click Here And Continue Reading…

Passing the Pediatric Board Exam – Maximizing CRUNCH Time

Don't have any regrets!When it comes to passing the pediatric board exam, all logic and reason can get thrown out the window during “crunch time.”

In this article, I want to share some resources and tips to help you calm the nerves, help you focus on maximizing your chances at passing the pediatric boards and most of all… ensure that at the end of the test-taking process you have absolutely NO REGRETS!

What Should I Do When It's “Crunch Time?”

Well, let’s answer all the following questions:

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS (AAP) PREP DISCLAIMER

  • Should I Be Doing A Ton Of PREP Questions?
  • What Are The Best Pediatric Board Review Books For Me To Study?
  • What’s the BIGGEST “Bang For The Buck” At CRUNCH TIME?
  • What’s the ONE THING I Can Do to LEARN MORE EFFECTIVELY?
  • What Should I Do If I Have Questions About A Topic That’s Confusing Me?
  • Is Passing the Pediatric Board Exam Realistic for Me?

Should I Be Doing A Ton Of PREP Questions?

I answer this question in detail in a Pediatrics Board Review article titled, “How Many AAP PREP Questions Should I Do?

In summary, the idea behind using ANY sort of board questions should be for PRACTICE. It is NOT to learn board-relevant content. For that, you should be focusing on a single, primary study resource (called the PBR).

This means that you don’t aim to learn new content from those questions. Your aim should be to practice your test-taking SKILLS. When I refer to “test taking skills,” I mean…

  • Are you falling for traps?
  • Are you reading the English within the actual question carefully?
  • Are you extracting the appropriate information from the clinical vignette?
  • Are you keeping a steady pace, and able to LET GO of a question when it is one that is…
    • Taking you forever to think through?
    • About a topic that you KNOW you are weak in?
    • Is SUPER long?

“Click

Passing the board exam requires a blend of strong board-relevant clinical knowledge, plus test-taking skills. Many physicians do not realize this and they continue to fail over and over again. They assume that board questions are like miniature patients, but they are not! Click Here And Continue Reading…

Pediatric Board Exam Results for 2014

The Exam Results For 2014 Are In!

I can’t believe the pediatric board exam results for 2014 are already here, and so early this year! Based on the emails I'm getting, it was a GREAT year to take the exam. Since I failed the first time I took the boards, I’m especially happy to hear that PBR made the difference for SO many repeat exam takers who previously failed the pediatric boards. It wasn’t all good news, though, and my heart really goes out to those who didn’t make the mark.

 

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