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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:


  • 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 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?


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!

So, to answer the question of how many PRACTICE questions you should be doing, the answer is simply… ENOUGH SO THAT YOU’RE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITIES TO “PROCESS QUESTIONS” EFFECTIVELY. For me, that was about 750 PREP® questions over a 2-3 month period.

Also, I recommend warming up your brain with 10-20 questions PRIOR to walking into the pediatric board exam.

To read more about this idea, visit my article entitled, “Pediatric Board Questions – 3 Strategies to Skyrocket Your Score!

What Are The Best Pediatric Board Review Books For Me To Study?

Even though I’m the author of the Pediatrics Board Review series, I often find it entertaining when pediatricians feel compelled to ask me this question. Even so, my simple and very honest answer is as follows…

“The best pediatric board review books to study are the ones which contain HIGH-YIELD, board-relevant information that you can manage to learn inside and out through at least 3 to 5 rounds of studying for the initial pediatric board certification exam, and at least 2 times for the pediatric MOC exam (aka, the pediatric maintenance of certification exam).”

In my humble opinion, most of the board review books on the market do a horrible job of taking a stand on what material will be covered on the board exam. Instead, they try to summarize ALL OF PEDIATRICS into a massive set of books. That way, when you fail or get questions wrong, you can never blame them for NOT covering the material. The problem with that approach is that you end up in a state of overwhelm and despair, leaving you with little time to get through the content more than one time.

We are no longer in medical school, and we really need concise, time-saving, and effective material to help us pass the boards during our very busy lives!Black Hole of Google Search

There ARE 1 or 2 resources that are more condensed, but I feel like they are SO thin on details and explanations that the reader is FORCED to look things up through other resources, including the web.


Do NOT choose a study resource that requires you to go outside of it for further explanation. For the ABP initial certification and MOC exams, the 

Pediatrics Board Review books, videos, and MP3s present to you TESTABLE content, and do it in a concise and memorable format.

These materials helped me increase my score by 160 points, and PASS by 130 points.

Ashish Goyal - Passing the Pediatric Board Exam by a mile

The material is updated EVERY year, and the PBR has helped people finally pass the boards after they had FAILED 5 and even 6 times before! Here's one of my favorite “thank you” emails “Results Day 2013.”

Ashish's Favorite Pediatrics Board Review Testimonial of 2013

====== HERE'S ANOTHER ONE =====

I finally passed the peds boards. I have taken this exam numerous times before and cannot believe how this turned my life upside down. The anxiety of waiting for the results… was unbearable…

Each time I failed the exam, I felt I needed to buy another review book… What a waste!…

I used PBR exclusively. I loved the book because it was an easy read. Having been out of residency plus a fellowship, I found out over time I forgot some of the simple salient points that one should know. PBR brought back all those points, strengthening again the basic foundation of knowledge I needed to pass the exam.

I concentrated only on the PBR and question book and went over it numerous times… I studied on the bus, to and from work or to just even review what I studied the previous night…

I am living proof. The PBR worked for me… I am proud to say that I am now able to enjoy life and the company of friends that have been long neglected…

No longer do I have that feeling of something looming over me or that something in the back of your mind reminding you that you have to study.

– Dr. Vincenzo (Read his full article here)

What’s The BIGGEST “Bang For The Buck” At CRUNCH TIME?


Biggest Bang for the Buck

Passing the board exam is about 3 key ingredients:

  • Content
  • Technique
  • Commitment

You either have the commitment, or you don’t.

As for TECHNIQUE, PBR has a Test-Taking Strategies & Coaching program to help you pass any medical board exam.  It previously required weeks to months of work with a coach in order to gather all of the concepts and tools, but now the course is fully DIGITAL. That means you can start to learn strategies that you can implement immediately or at your own pace. Even so, it's a SKILL and it does take practice. 

So what about CONTENT? That IS something that you can, and SHOULD, be mastering.

How can you pass a medical board exam without the medical knowledge? YOU CAN’T!

The PBR Core Study Guide AND the Questions book are both FILLED WITH EXTREMELY high-yield content. In fact, even the Q&A book is so valuable you should NEVER treat it as a “practice” resource. It has content that is NOT in the Core Study Guide and it SHOULD be reviewed over and over again.

The question is, HOW will you master all of the PBR content? How will you MAXIMIZE the “crunch time” before the board exam?


Variety - the spice of life and the key to SUCCESSMany teachers (not me) will tell you to find the ONE method of studying that works best for you, and then stick to it. It seems logical enough, right?

Meaning, if that’s flashcards… use flashcards!

If that’s audio… then use the 25 hours of pediatric board review audio MP3s by PBR that you can DOWNLoAD or STREAM.

If it’s video, or live conferences… then you should use the PBR Online Video Course with Q&A Webinars

And if it’s traditional books that you love… then ABUSE the PBR Ultimate Bundle Pack’s hardcopy and online books.

So… that's what MOST people would say. HOWEVER!!!!… I’ve done some research around “learning theory,” and the ONLY clear consensus around it seems to be that when you mix things up by adding VARIETY to your studying, you learn better

Learning Better by Mixing Things Up - Learning Theory

To some degree, I’m guessing you already know this. Have you ever considered adding a little variety to your studying by mixing things up and reading a book from BACK TO FRONT? Well, it’s kind of the same idea.

I would encourage you to find at least one alternate modality to your primary means of learning. Until recently, PBR could only offer hardcopy and online books.

But now, PBR Alumni who passed the pediatric boards have come together to help me create both VIDEO and AUDIO resources that take you through the ENTIRE PBR Core Study Guide, plus offer additional teaching and question breaks.

For the videos, you can even signup to get access to one video at a time! Almost like a “pay per view” service. PLUS, I've put up 29 FREE SAMPLE videos of all 29 chapter videos. Just click HERE to watch the FREE sample videos.



It's like a DVD-course, but on steroidsIt covers everything from the PBR Core Study Guide to give you the core material you MUST know to pass the boards, but presents the material in a manner that offers additional learning, insights and even board-review questions to break up the studying. Plus, you can buy access to just one chapter at a time so that you can get help on only the chapters you're struggling with most!

Did you know that most people READ at the same speed as their cadence of speech? What a WASTE of time! Your brain can process speech much faster, so wouldn’t it be nice to simply read as fast as you can understand AUDIBLE language?

Through our special video interface settings, you can now INCREASE the speed at which you watch your video content and get through 24 hours of video content in just 12 hours! Just click on the gear icon at the bottom of each video to increase the speed up to 2x!

Now think about which resource will help you the most.

For some people, they want to watch the Power Point presentations, see the speakers’ facial gestures, take part in the live webinars, ask questions, etc.

If that describes YOU, then you should Click HERE Now to Learn How You Can Watch the Pediatrics Board Review DVD-type Online Course From ANYWHERE and From ANY Internet-enabled Device.

For others, they prefer to go through their own notes and book, but they WANT to continue to maximize their time away form home.

If that describes YOU, then you should Click HERE Now to Learn How You Can Listen to 25 Hours of MP3s From Anywhere, Anytime and from ANY Device!

Lastly, don't forget about having a focus on EFFICIENCY. The PBR resources are meant to MAXIMIZE your time so that you can spend more time learning, and less time fumbling around. For example, there's an ONLINE atlas of pediatric pictures to help you get through HUNDREDS of high-yield images quickly and efficiently. Plus, you can access the atlas from ANY mobile device.

Have you seen the Virtual Atlas of Pediatric Pictures in action?


What Should I Do If I Have Questions About A Topic That’s Confusing Me?

If you’re already a member of PBR, you’re probably also a part of the PBR Facebook CREW! And if you're not, you SHOULD BE!

Who better to reach out to than a group of pediatricians that are using the same resource you are? A group of pediatricians that’s either HUNGRY to pass the boards, or has ALREADY done it with the help of PBR!

That’s what the PBR Facebook CREW! is all about. Please note that the “THE CREW” is for PBR members only, and we verify membership before approving requests.

Facebook Crew Testimonial - 1


Facebook Crew Testimonial - 2


Facebook Crew Testimonial - 3

And if you’re someone who doesn't feel comfortable signing up for Facebook, consider joining the Online Video Course so that you can get LIVE interaction with PBR content experts during our annual webinar series, or through the pre- and post-webinar Q&A portals we have for all of our chapter videos!


Is Passing the Pediatric Board Exam Realistic for Me?

I actually think that the following question is MUCH more appropriate…

“Am I doing EVERYTHING that I can possibly do to pass the boards this year?”

Looking over all of the resources and support structures you have at your fingertips, when you leave the exam center on “test-day” will you be able to say to yourself that you took advantage of EVERY potentially beneficial opportunity that you had in front of you?

I would challenge you to make the difficult decisions to ensure that you have NO REGRETS at the end of that test-day.

If you need time off from work, TAKE IT OFF! DO NOT let others’ needs supersede your own. It IS time to think of yourself, or your employer and your patients may not have you as a doc for much longer.

If you’re a PBR member and just need a little bit of educational, or emotional, support… JOIN THE CREW!

If you need extra time away from the kids, GET A BABYSITTER!

If you need additional resources to help you learn the PBR material inside and out, GET THE AUDIO OR VIDEO SERIES! And get the CHEAP or FREE applications to INCREASE THE SPEED of your content consumption, “mix things up,” and essentially BUY BACK TIME!

Whatever it is that you THINK you need, get it. The worst feeling you could have this year on test-day would be the feeling of REGRET. The feeling that you COULD HAVE done something different, or SHOULD HAVE done something different, but you didn’t.

The cost of failing the boards is so much more than $2000 that you give the ABP. It’s about the time/income lost from work, the time lost from family, from friends, and from yourself. And it’s also about that feeling of shame because you can't stand equally amongst your peers.

So, PLEASE leave no doubts on the table. By now you should know exactly what you need to do next… so go do it!

Passing the Pediatric Board Exam Isn't As Hard As You Think - Click Here To See What YOU Can Do To Pass

Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Kris Nwokeji -

Best Ever Article Yet!!!!!!

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Thanks Kris! Glad you enjoyed it.

Kris Nwokeji -

The simplicity, straight-forwardness, the “matter-of-fact ness” with no punches pulled. The humor, the use and play of words, but above all; the truth behind it all. It’s like all you’ve been looking for in various forms of studying or learning styles in one place! And to top it off, the test-taking techniques……it’s like playing chess(and I play chess) and winning all the time because you’ve mastered your opponent’s(the ABP) techniques and you’ve mastered your own techniques via the PBR and The Coaching GrandMaster mentoring!(Ashish and Peggy)


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