If You Failed the Pediatric Boards, It’s Time to Study Smarter (Not Harder)
A failed pediatric boards attempt is devastating. Although I'm now the author of the Pediatrics Board Review (PBR) study guides, I failed the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) initial certification exam the first time I took the boards. I know what you're thinking, but before you throw yourself back into the depths of studying, here are two things you need to understand:
Failing the boards doesn’t make you a bad pediatrician.
Passing the general pediatric boards will have more to do with having a comprehensive strategy than studying harder. On exam day, examinees should focus on their exam scores and utilize a well-rounded approach to increase their chances of success.
After failing the pediatric boards, your chances of passing decline by almost 50%. Having helped pediatricians pass the boards after as many as NINE prior failed attempts, I'm confident that you can increase your chances of passing with an effective study schedule and the right study guides in place.
What Do My Pediatric Board Results Mean?
There are a number of factors that led to your pediatric board examination results being less than 180. It could be due to 1 factor or it could be due to 10 factors. Meaning, if you are only focusing on the board scores in isolation, you are likely to repeat your mistakes and fail again in the board exams. While you're familiar with some of the factors that can lead to success on your pediatric board exam, there are many that you probably haven't considered. One important factor is creating a study schedule to ensure you cover all the necessary material. By following a study schedule, you can increase your chances of achieving high scores on your exam. These scores will play a crucial role in shaping your future as a pediatrician. Before you begin studying, consider all of the factors that could have led to your failure and strategize around them to create a comprehensive pediatric boards study plan.
Success Factors Related to Passing the ABP's Pediatric Exam
Tailoring your study schedule is crucial for achieving high examination scores. Personalized preparation, with the guidance of mentors, can help mitigate the risk of failing the boards
Your USMLE Step 1 pass/fail scores in med school are related to your personal risk of failing
Your in-training exam scores are related to your personal risk of failing
Repetition of study content breeds reinforcement of difficult concepts
Your available time and the density of your study materials will impact your ability to have repetition, which can great improve your scores
Studying from multiple resources prevents repetition of your core resource and helps improve your understanding and scores
Board review questions should be used to assess your test-taking strategy, not build knowledge
Study sessions should be long and uninterrupted
Multimodal studying at key points of your board preparation is crucial
The ABP Content Outline and prior ABP score reports should not be the basis of your study plan
Sleep hygiene should be excellent
Personal, professional, and social obligations must be limited
Distractions must be eliminated in order to have “Deep Study”
The time of day when you study is critical
Abortive techniques for test-taking anxiety require practice
Investment of time, energy and money into success factors is required to pass
Study Schedule for Repeat Board Exam Test-Takers
This article outlines a detailed schedule that will help you pass the boards if you have failed the pediatric boards. Specifically, how to do so with materials that will help you (not fail you) during your next pediatric board exam. Remember, there are 3 pillars to passing the pediatric boards: Content, Test-Taking Strategy and Commitment. Your failure(s) on the boards may have been due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of test-taking strategy. For most people reading this, failure was a result of a combination of both. For many, the commitment to spend the time, energy, and money to help secure the pediatric knowledge and test-taking strategy need to pass the exam was also a major contributor.
The 16-week schedule provided below will give you the pediatric knowledge that you need to pass the boards. For help with test-taking strategy, poor attention to detail, falling for traps on the board exam, challenges with pacing and problems attaining high quality studying, the PBR article on test-taking strategy is a must read.
Throughout this study schedule, you’ll find references to the AAP PREP® series of questions. Note that while those questions are well-structured and thorough, you should use multiple question banks this year. Use each question to help you develop, or refine, your test-taking strategy. Do not use questions as a source of study material. You can learn much more about this recommendation in a PBR article on how to best use the AAP PREP® questions.
If you are a first-time test-taker, and you consider yourself a good test-taker, you have done well on prior board exams, and you come from a residency program with a high pass rate, then this schedule isn’t right for you. Read the PBR article discussing a less rigorous 14-week study schedule for first-time test-takers.
THE “ASHISH GOYAL” HIGHLIGHTER TRICK
Before you dive into studying, it's important to know understand how to best use a highlighter to increase your efficiency as you go through schedule. As a high-risk test-taker, you should aim to repeat your core material (the PBR Core Study Guide and the PBR Q&A Book) at least 5 times. With a little help, this is absolutely doable.
For each round of the material, highlight (or underline) only the areas you are interested in reviewing again. If you believe that you know something well enough to recall it on the day of the exam, don’t highlight it. If you believe you need to review at least 1 more time, highlight it.
How using different colors can aid in information retention and organization
For the first round, use a light-colored highlighter. In subsequent readings, switch to a slightly darker shade each time and focus only on the content highlighted in the latest round. If it wasn't highlighted in the latest round, skip it. There's no need to revisit familiar material and waste precious study time at this point in the process. In one of your later rounds of going through the material, you should skim through any information that has not been highlighted in the latest round.
For my highly successful second attempt at the boards, I used these colors during each study pass:
On your first pass, you might highlight up to 80% of the book in yellow. That's normal. By the 5th pass, you might only need to review 20%-30% of the content marked in green. In the final weeks, focus only on the blue-highlighted areas and go through those sections as many times as possible before the exam. This approach will help you curate your study sessions to concentrate on areas that are specific challenges for you, rather than wasting time reviewing familiar topics.
16-WEEK PEDIATRIC BOARDS STUDY PLAN OVERVIEW
This comprehensive study schedule includes both PBR books (Core Study Guide and Q&A Book) and AAP PREP ® questions. Set aside 500 hours to go through approximately 440 pages of core content and over 700 practice questions. Here’s the schedule breakdown:
Weeks 1-4: First round through the core content
Weeks 5-10: Second round
Weeks 11-14: Third and fourth rounds +/- practice exams (aka mock exams)
Weeks 15-16: Fifth round +/- a mock exam
As a repeat test-taker, the key to your success will be to read the PBR material at least FIVE times to establish familiarity, identify patterns in the material and promote strong reinforcement through repetition. The pediatric board exam focuses less on how much ‘knowledge’ you have, and more on your ability to select the right diagnosis or next step. By identifying the similarities and differences of diseases, you will get a deeper understanding of the material., and by learning test-taking strategy, you will be able to answer some questions with only limited knowledge.
Spend no more than 5 minutes on each of the 700 questions (an average of 75-90 seconds to answer each question and no more 3.5 minutes to review). At 5 minutes per question, that’s about 60 hours (700 questions multiplied by 5 minutes). Again, use this time to focus on test-taking strategy rather than focusing on trying to learn pediatrics by going through questions. As you get closer to the exam, decrease the time per question to 75 seconds since that’s what will be expected on the actual exam. You will spend the remaining 340 hours going through the PBR core content. Make sure you treat both PBR books (Core Study Guide and the Q&A Book) as core content that you must know. Okay… here we go!
Allocate 130 hours over 6 weeks in your study schedule (roughly 21 hours each week). The goal for the first 6 weeks is to read through everything carefully and make all the notes, drawings, and mnemonics you need to ensure complete understanding. Highlighting/underline/bracket only the areas that you think will need more review and repetition. Read the PBR article on creating mnemonics if creating mnemonics doesn't come naturally to you. Aim for an average of 18 minutes per page to cover approximately 430 pages of core content. Do any cross-referencing of facts needed but spend no more than 5 minutes outside of the PBR resources so you don’t get drawn into the black hole of Google. If you still struggle with some of the content, then post your questions in PBR’s private Facebook group.
Break up your studying with an average of 5 AAP PREP® questions per day to work on your test-taking strategy. At 35 questions per week, you should be aiming for 210 questions over this 6-week period. Questions will take about 3 hours of your time each week. This first 130 hours is crucial to anyone who has failed the pediatric boards. Approach this as a marathon, not a sprint.
After having gone through the book in painstaking detail once, the second round should be much quicker (approximately 86 hours). Aim for an average of 12 minutes per page. Like the first 4 weeks, break up your studying with an average of 5 AAP PREP® questions. Aim for 5 min per question, including the answer review. By the end of Week #10, you will have completed an additional 140 questions for a total of 350 questions.
FAILED PEDIATRIC BOARDS STUDY SCHEDULE WEEK #11 – WEEK #14: ROUNDS 3 AND 4
Stick to the schedule and stay disciplined. You should now be familiar with the PBR content, but continue reviewing the books a few more times to develop the solid knowledge base you’ll need to pass the exam. For the next 4 weeks, read the PBR materials 2 more times. Aim for approximately 10 minutes or less per page (roughly 72 hours per round). If the 3rd read through takes 3 weeks, that’s OKAY because your 4th and 5th readings to be even faster. Also, there is built-in “cushion” time within this schedule.
For these two reads, focus on refreshing your memory of familiar topics and work to cement your knowledge of the difficult ones. If you're mentally struggling or have questions about the PBR content, reach out to members of the private Pediatrics Board Review Facebook Group or submit your questions through the PBR “ASK THE EXPERT” question portals. If you find that you are moving through the content faster than 10 minutes per page, consider using the extra time to review recently visited chapters to promote even greater repetition of the challenging topics.
Continue working on questions with an average of 5 AAP PREP ® questions per day. At this point, you may want to consider batching questions and doing 12-18 questions per sitting as you aim for your 35 questions per week. If you would like to do a mock exam before the exam, this would be a good time to set one up to work on your pacing and your test day schedule (more details below).
By the 15th week, you should have made it through at least four rounds of the material. You should now have a solid foundation of the pediatric knowledge needed to pass the boards. During your 5th reading, VERY quickly read the topics you know well to ensure your understanding is correct and continue to focus on the more challenging topics in depth until they’re cemented in your mind. The challenging topics should be easy to identify if you’ve been using different color highlighters for each successive reading.
Since you will primarily be reviewing the difficult topics, it’s possible that your average pace could be faster than the recommended 10 minutes per page. Use the extra time to hone your test-taking strategy, review recently visited chapters, or to do a mock exam. If your exam is within two weeks, the best thing you can do during this time is to repeatedly review the areas you are struggling with as many times as possible. That will be the key to your success.
Continue practicing your test-taking strategy on practice questions from the AAP and other question banks. By the end of the 16th week, you will have done about 560 questions (35 per week x 16 weeks). That leaves 140 questions remaining to reach 700. By this point, you should be comfortably pacing at approximately 75 seconds per question, and you should consider doing larger batches of questions.
HOW TO SET UP PEDIATRIC MOCK EXAMS
While studying is a crucial part of passing the boards, getting familiar with the test environment is just as important for your pediatric board prep. If time allows, I recommend taking at least 1 mock exam before the actual exam. This will give you a good understanding of how the very long day of testing will go. You can consider taking one full exam in a day, or you can consider taking a half-mock exam one morning and another half-mock exam the next afternoon to gauge your energy levels at different times of the day.
Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when setting up your mock exam:
Use multiple question banks. Many different pediatricians across the country write questions for the boards. This means every question can have a different personality to it (I would know since I've written questions for the ABP too). Getting familiar with the many different ways questions can be written ensures that you will not get blind-sided on test day.
Recognize that taking a mock exam is about more than your score. It’s about understanding the challenges and barriers that come with a very long day, and then optimizing your behaviors to ensure that you are the best version of yourself from the beginning to the end. Start working on your test day habits now, and replicate them on test day.
Watch the videos below to see how these PBR members overcame prior failed pediatric board experiences.
DR. STEPHANIE MOSES
Dr. Moses made the common error of studying from board review questions. Watch this video to see how ultimately passed the boards.
DR. YESSENIA CASTRO
Dr. Castro made the mistake of trying to use multiple resources to study. She failed five times but got a great new job and $20,000 more in her annual pay after passing. Watch the video below to see how she did it.
DR. KERRI LOCKHART
Dr. Lockhart passed every medical board exam until the ABP initial certification exam. She even failed once with PBR because she refused to invest the recommended resources. Watch the video below to see what happened after her third failed attempt.
The members above passed after attending PBR's Live Test-Taking Strategies & Deep Study Course. If you truly want the best chance of passing, learn about PBR's VIP Bundle that helped one doctor pass after NINE prior failed attempts.
The VIP Bundle also includes the No Brainer package, which includes PBR's multimodal study materials to help you build your fund of knowledge, an Online Test-Taking Strategies Course (a great warm up for your Live Test-Taking Strategies Course) and up to three 90-Day Personalized Study Schedules created by Team PBR. After filling out a questionnaire about yourself, your pace of reading, and your available days to study, Team PBR will take care of the rest.
Not a PBR member yet? What are you waiting for? Click HERE now and get ready to pass the pediatric boards!
The pediatrics board exam is an essential component of your career in pediatrics, but, as with any standardized test, there’s more to the board exam than simply memorizing answers to thousands of questions. Successfully passing the exam comes from having a solid command of medical knowledge and test-taking strategies. This includes knowing what to expect on the day of the exam and doing everything possible to have a methodical approach to the big day.
So, here are some things that you can expect from Pediatrics Board Review (PBR) to help you prepare for your initial certification exam. For information on the ABP Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam and MOCA-Peds, please visit our recertification page.
Risk Calculator Quiz
While the American Board of Pediatrics provides the ABP General Knowledge Self-Assessment, do not assume your results will act as a true indication of your ability to pass the initial certification exam. This assessment is more appropriate for the ABP Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam, not the initial certification exam.
PBR’s free, online Risk Calculator Quiz will help you understand your risk profile of possibly failing the pediatric board exam and will place you as either low, moderate, or high risk.
Knowing your risk profile for the initial certification exam will give you a plan for how to move forward with your pediatrics exam. For example, pediatricians in the low-risk group will use the 300-hour study plan in the PBR Efficiency Blueprint, while those in the moderate-to-high risk groups will use the 500-hour study plan. Your plan will not only differ in how many hours you need to set aside for studying, but also how many times you'll review the material and whether improving your test-taking strategies should be a key point of focus.
For all of the risk categories, we have provided structure and guidance that will help you get to your goal of passing your pediatrics board exam. We help you with time management, community support, and we have a proven track record of success.
Did you know that PBR has helped pediatricians pass after as many as seven failed attempts? We even helped one pediatrician pass on his tenth attempt!
We can help you too.
What Should You Expect from the Pediatrics Board Exam?
If you've never taken the exam before, you can go through a short tutorial before the exam begins. PBR members are trained to go through the ABP tutorial BEFORE the exam day. Keep in mind that this tutorial is technically for the ABP MOC exam. Initial certification exam test-takers SHOULD go through it because it’s almost the exact same tutorial seen on their exam day. The slight difference will be around the number of blocks that the tutorial mentions for the exam (the initial certification exam has four blocks rather than the two mentioned in this tutorial). Going through this tutorial before your exam can remove one point of stress at the beginning of a very important day.
According to the American Board of Pediatrics, you must arrive for your pediatrics board exam at least 30 minutes before your scheduled test time. If you arrive late, the test proctor may actually bar you from entering to take the exam, meaning that you'll have to pay a rescheduling fee and take the exam the following year.
When you arrive at the testing center to take your pediatrics initial certification exam or maintenance of certification exam, you'll initially be scanned for prohibited electronic devices and will need to show a valid ID to be admitted into the testing center. You'll be given a secure storage locker to stow away your personal belongings and effects. You'll also have to turn your pockets inside out to ensure that you're not carrying prohibited items, and you’ll be asked to roll up your sleeves to show that you're not wearing a wristwatch. After that, you'll be given two laminated note boards and two markers. Immediately before you enter the exam room, you'll be asked to sign your name and document the time.
After you've signed in for the exam, someone will escort you to a workstation where the exam will take place. You will be allowed to take in your photo ID, your storage locker key, earplugs, the two laminated note boards, and two markers. If you would also like to take something else into the room, you can check the Prometric pre-approved items list.
You'll be monitored at all times while you're in the facility, and all testing sessions will have audio and video recorded. Testing advisors will also periodically walk through the exam room to monitor for any irregular behavior.
If you need any assistance, you can raise your hand for help. If you encounter a hardware or software problem while taking your exam, it's important to leave the message on your screen so that an exam official can determine the source of the error. You shouldn’t lose any testing time and your score shouldn't be affected because of any technical problems, but must communicate any such problems to a testing official as soon as possible.
If This Sounds Daunting, We Can Help!
So much of passing your boards comes down to not only your knowledge of medicine, but to your ability to take standardized tests under the very artificial environment mentioned above. This includes the development of your test-taking strategy, and it also includes understanding the many ways to optimize your test-week schedule, your test-day schedule, and yourself. PBR helps in all these areas with a team-based approach led by Dr. Ashish Goyal. Dr. Goyal is PBR’s author and he has coached members to success after as many as nine failed attempts.
Want to skyrocket your scores and get the greatest bang for your buck? We recommend:
PBR’s No Brainer Bundle
Increase your chances of board success to 95% with ALL of our pediatric knowledge base resources. You will get access to our hardcopy books, online editions of the books, audio course, video course, access to live ASK THE EXPERT webinars, a digital picture atlas, our Full Online Test-Taking Strategies Course, and even three 90-Day Personalized Study Schedules created just for you by Team PBR. The No Brainer is the BEST way to leverage your study time for maximum results.
Dr. Goyal will teach you how many questions are in each section and what kinds of questions to expect. He has also identified three major categories of questions that every ABP question will fall into, and he’s created algorithms to help you process each category of questions. He’s also discovered shortcuts to help get questions correct by identifying answer choices that are similar, opposite, contain “hard stop” words, contain “hedging” words, and those that are meant to leave you wondering why it feels like there are multiple correct answer choices.
You will learn all of this through PBR’s test-taking strategy courses. These courses have repeatedly been the key to success for professionals taking medical board exams, and they’ll help you too.
So, if you would like help preparing for your pediatrics board exam, look to the leader in this field here at Pediatrics Board Review (PBR). From helping you build your fund of knowledge the right way, to helping you with all the ins and outs of your exam day, we can help you pass your exam the very first time or your money back — guaranteed!
In this article, we’ll learn about pediatric board review courses being offered in 2023 and learn why live courses are broken. We'll also be sharing resources and recommendations for those looking into live board review courses, along with a review of the 2023 pediatric board review course createdby Pediatrics Board Review (PBR).
PBR was created by me, Ashish Goyal. As a pediatrician, I excelled when I increased my score by 160 points on the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) Initial Certification exam. I was then asked by the ABP to write questions for them.
Now, as an author, my mission is to provide the best pediatric board review materials to residents and pediatricians. And I’ve been doing this successfully with PBR since 2011.
As physicians, we're trained to learn "everything” in our field, and we apply the same methodology to how we prepare for an exam. We start from the first sentence and take a top-to-bottom approach.
But these strategies do NOT work when you are studying for the pediatric boards.
That’s why at Pediatrics Board Review, we focus on creating a full, one-stop shop for you to focus your learning on three things. They include:
The specific topics that will be tested on the exam.
The strategy behind test taking, and how to deconstruct difficult questions with ease.
The tools, schedules, and systems needed to promote efficiency and accountability.
This article will be covering a LOT about what pediatricians just like you need to pass the pediatric boards (and how we have been providing that successfully for the past decade).
The system that we’ve created has been proven to be much more effective (and cheaper) than attending a 4-6 day long course where you're expected to learn everything about pediatrics. And if the thousands of happy pediatricians are any indication, using the PBR Certification Methodology is the way to go (but more on that later).
If you are set on finding a traditional, live pediatric board review course, we do offer some advice and resources to help. Keep reading below to find a list of companies we've compiled who are offering live pediatric board review courses and the cost of attending.
But, if you have 5 minutes, take the time to read this article because it will likely save you time, money, and energy.
Through this article, and through videos like the one below, you will begin to quickly understand why a "traditional" pediatric board review course can lead to failure. PBR is not a traditional board review company, and we focus on helping physicians in ways that have never been done before. In the video below, I share with you the arrival of the a new edition the PBR Core Study Guide, the Question & Answer books, our Test-Taking Strategies Course, and information around the differences between PBR and other board review courses that allow us to excel at what we do.
So hit "play" button below and watch this book "unveiling" video to get an excellent understanding of what makes PBR different than any other medical board review program.
Click here to get the full Pediatric Dermatology and Pediatric Gastroenterology chapters from THIS YEAR's EDITION of the PBR so that you can TRY BEFORE YOU BUY!
THE MAKINGS OF A GREAT PEDIATRIC REVIEW COURSE
What Makes a Great Pediatric Board Review Course?
Having been around pediatric board materials (and helping pediatricians pass!) for more than 10 years, I have found the key to any successful pediatric review course which boils down to 5 key elements:
CONTENT CONGRUENCY: Having materials that work cohesively together has been proven to better reinforce knowledge in our brains. This is compared to having several disjointed study materials with competing methodologies. Congruency promotes a smarter, not harder, studying experience.
BOARD RELEVANT MATERIAL (NOT ALL MATERIAL!): No course should try to shove as many topics as possible into your brain; that will only lead to overload! Pick a course that provides a laser focus on the topics that are known to be tested, and curates your study experience around those topics.
A FOCUS ON THE TEST-TAKING STRATEGY (JUST AS MUCH AS THE TOPICS): Everyone has a colleague, a friend, or a family member who is very intelligent, but tests poorly. When it comes to standardized tests, knowing how to test is just as important as knowing about the subject being tested! So, your chosen course should place a high emphasis on teaching you how to TEST well.
INTERACTION: A course that promotes interaction with both your peers and the instructor can lead to a better study experience. Trying to study in isolation for hours on end, with an instructor just talking at you, will only limit the amount of information you retain. It will also provide zero opportunity for you to gain clarification on the difficult topics you struggled with.
MULTIPLE RETENTION TECHNIQUES: Everyone learns at a different pace, so finding a course that utilizes several retention techniques to help you solidify what you are studying is key.
Well, friends, the results of the 2022 pediatrics board exam have been announced! This is always an emotional time for pediatricians. For us here at PBR HQ, it's also overwhelming because we get flooded with emails from the members who have worked so hard over the past year, and have now FINALLY passed the boards! The stories from our 2022 members have been wonderful. To have members say that we have changed their lives has been nothing less than humbling. Our members are also providing feedback on making the resources we have even better so that the PBR system continues to be the best pediatric board review available. While we are known for being the premier resource for anyone at moderate to high risk of failing the pediatric boards, the results below will help you see that if we can help pediatricians pass after SIX failed attempts, then helping you pass the pediatric board exam should be easy.
In this article, I’ll be covering:
The pass rate for PBR members and first-time test takers
Feedback from our board-certified alumni on how to pass the pediatric board exams
Reflect on the pediatric board exam results 2022
Next Steps if you FAILED the boards (and common mistakes to avoid to make sure you pass next year)
Free upcoming webinar on how to ensure you pass the 2023 pediatric boards
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?
What am I supposed to do?
While having a strong knowledge base is important to pass the pediatrics 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Passing the the pediatric boards is challenging, but it's far from magic. In this article I'm going to introduce you to the 3 main areas you must focus on to pass the boards. If you don't, then even as a good pediatrician you will be at high risk for failing the boards.
By the end, you will have a much better handle on the general framework within which you will need to focus your energy. I predict that it's going to be quite liberating for you!
Let's start with a few stories…
Each year after the pediatric board results are released, I ask PBR members for feedback. “How was it for you?” The replies vary considerably, but there are specific overwhelming emotions which come through time and time again;
“a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I feel lighter and free.”
– “Dr. Wiseman”
“My family and I celebrated all day long. We cried tears of happiness knowing the endless hours of studying are over AND payed off!”