Pediatric Board Exam Time Per Question, Number of Blocks & More
The Ins & Outs of TEST DAY!
As the pediatric board exam nears, I'm often asked the following questions:
- Pediatric board exam time per question and pacing is something I struggle with. Can you help?
- How many questions are on the pediatrics board exam?
- What is the number of sections for the American Board of Pediatrics INITIAL board certification exam?
The information on the American Board of pediatrics website is a little confusing, so I've tried to clarify some things below. I try to address some of the more key information you will need on test day. In this article I'll talk specifically about the INITIAL pediatric board certification exam. You'll learn:
- How many sections are administered for the initial certification exam
- How many questions are on the peds exam
- How many questions you can expect to see in each section
- How much time per question to allot
The break up for the ABP initial certification exam is quite different from the maintenance of certification exam (MOC exam), and the online practice test area that's used by the ABP gives info about the peds MOC exam (Maintenance of Certification exam, aka the “peds recertification exam”). While the software and user interface is the exact same for both exams, the time per block, the number of blocks and the number of breaks is quite different.
ABP INITIAL CERTIFICATION EXAM STRUCTURE
- Total number of questions for the entire initial certification exam: 330 – 350
- Total number of sections on the initial peds board exam: 4 (NOT two. Again, the online tutorial is for the ABP MOC recertification exam)
- Total number of questions per block: “Roughly 84” for many years according to our conversation with the ABP.
- Total time per block: 1 hour and 45 minutes
THE PEDIATRIC MOC EXAM STRUCTURE
- Total number of questions for the entire pediatric maintenance of certification exam: 200
- Total number of sections on the peds MOC board exam: 2 – ABP Online Tutorial
- Total number of questions per block: 100
- Total time per block: 2 hours
FOR THE INITIAL PEDIATRIC BOARD EXAM, HOW MUCH TIME PER QUESTION SHOULD I ALLOT?
You should assume that each block will have 84 questions per block. Each block is 105 minutes long, which means you will have 1 minute 15 seconds per question.
KEEPING PACE WITH THE CLOCK
This assumes there are roughly 84 questions per block (based on my direct communication with the ABP). Please verify this at the beginning of each section.
- Make sure you watch the timer VERY closely
- Each section 1 hour 45 minutes long (105 minutes) long.
- You should be getting 12 questions done per 15 min
- 1 hour 30 minutes left – #12 is done, starting #13
- 1 hour 15 minutes left – #24 is done, starting #25
- 1 hour left – #36 is done, starting #37
- 45 minutes left – #48 is done, starting #49
- 30 minutes left – #60 is done, starting #61
- 15 minutes left – #72 is done, starting #73
- 00 minutes left – #84 is done. If there are only 83 questions, you should have 1 minute and 15 seconds to spare!
ALTERNATIVELY, YOU CAN AIM FOR APPROXIMATELY 24 QUESTIONS PER 30 MINUTES.
WHAT IF THERE ARE MORE THAN 84 QUESTIONS IN A BLOCK?
Then simply figure out how many “extra” questions you have, and plan on doing ONE additional question per 15-minute block, or 2 additional questions per 30-minute “mini-block.” For example, if there are 86 questions in a block, then after the first 30 minutes of the exam you should be done with 26 questions instead of only 24. For the remaining 30-minute “mini-blocks,” you can go back to the usual pacing of 24 questions per 30 minutes.
YOUR PEDIATRIC BOARD EXAM DAY SHOULD LOOK LIKE THIS
This assumes you have gone through the online ABP practice test area/mock exam in detail prior to the exam day. Make sure you do this! It will allow you to try out the software and read the various introduction sections. Note that it only has 5 questions and no answers. Also, it mentions TWO blocks instead of FOUR because it is an MOC-specific tutorial.
The ABP gives you 90 minutes of break time broken up as described below. You cannot gain break time by skipping the intro/tutorials, but by familiarizing yourself with those areas a head of time you can save a little extra “brain power” on the day of the exam. So, please go through the tutorial and familiarize yourself with the testing software layout, the keyboard functionality, the image button, the lab sheet, the honor code, etc. By doing this, you can SKIP the first 3 sections of instructions on the actual day of the test (you'll shorten your day by 15 minutes). If you do as I suggest, here's what your exam day should look like:
REGISTRATION: Arrive 30 minutes prior to the start time
INTRODUCTION: Up to 2 minutes – SKIP THIS SECTION!
HONOR CORE & NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: Up to 3 minutes – SKIP THIS SECTION!
TUTORIAL: Up to 10 minutes – SKIP THIS SECTION!
EXAMINATION SECTION 1: 1 hour and 45 minutes
BREAK (Optional)Up to 15 minutes – If you’re not back at your desk by the 15th minute, the next section will start without you!
EXAMINATION SECTION 2: 1 hour and 45 minutes
BREAK (Optional)Up to 60 minutes – If you’re not back at your desk by the 60th minute, the next section will start without you!
EXAMINATION SECTION 3: 1 hour and 45 minutes
BREAK (Optional) – Up to 15 minutes – If you’re not back at your desk by the 15th minute, the next section will start without you!
EXAMINATION SECTION 4: 1 hour and 45 minutes
OPTIONAL SURVEY: Up to 15 minutes – Skip?
TOTAL TIME: 8.5 – 9 hours