Why AAP PREP Questions Are NOT The Best Study Questions

AAP PREP QUESTIONS – Learn How You SHOULD (and Should NOT) Use Them!

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Pediatrics Board Review: A Resource for Pediatric Residents and Pediatricians



I often get asked, “What makes your pediatric study guide better than prep questions?” By “prep questions,” Regardless of whether pediatricians are referring to the questions released by the American Academy of Pediatrics every year (called PREP(R)),  or general board “prep” questions, my answer is the same (read on).

I also get asked, “I have 3 years worth of PREP questions of my own, and my chief resident gave me another 4 years worth. Is that enough? How many questions should I do?”

Shhhh it's a secret!


So here's the “secret” about the AAP PREP questions as they relate to the peds boards… they are NOT written by the American BOARD of Pediatrics (ABP). They are written by the American ACADEMY of Pediatrics (AAP). The names of these organizations are so similar (American ______ Pediatrics), that MANY pediatricians believe that they are one and the same.

THEY ARE NOT! But, the AAP's annual question series has somehow become the “go to” Q&A resources for the peds boards.

Many pediatricians also try to use it EXCLUSIVELY as their only source of study for the boards. I'm baffled by this. While PREP is a GREAT resource for anyone who is a board-certified pediatrician looking for CME, or for any NON-board certified pediatrician trying to simulate an ABP practice session, these questions should NOT be used as a primary study resource while studying for the ABP initial certification exam.

Here is a note I received from a PBR “alum” who is now a Board Certified Pediatrician, but made one of the most common and dangerous mistakes the year before she found PBR:

Hello Ashish,

Last year I failed my boards. I spent countless hours studying using prep questions but didn't have one good source to use to really learn from and I thought using questions would be my key to success. Unfortunately I was wrong. I was so lost and frustrated after I received that FAIL, and I thought there is no way that I was going to pass. I had spent hours and months studying… What more could I have done?!?

I googled ‘failed pediatric boards' and pbr came up. It was an answer to prayer. It was exactly what I needed.

I was blown away by the help that PBR gave me. From the PBR book itself to the videos, audio and online portals – I am so incredibly thankful.

I think pbr should be adopted by residency programs nationwide as it would be a great resource to have to study for in training exams and to use alongside of rotations. Just my two cents!!

If there is something that I could do to help you and the pbr membership, please let me know!

– Stephanie Moses, Board Certified Pediatrician


Failed But Then Finally Passed With PBR TTS and Coaching

Again, the AAP has put together a GREAT resource. I actually think it stands above all others in the marketplace for simulating the board exam experience. It's also wonderful for pediatric continuing medical education (CME). BUT, it should NEVER be used as a stand alone resource for board study. I simply cannot imagine that the AAP would ever try to cover all of pediatrics as a comprehensive board review in a set of 200-300 questions.


Here are a few key points regarding the use of the AAP's questions as well as any other board prep questions:

  • As a frequent customer of PREP, and as the author of Pediatrics Board Review, I'm pretty confident in stating that it would be extremely difficult to cover everything you need to know for the boards in the annual set of 250 questions released  every year.
  • In general, if you insist on using questions for STUDYING, consider acquiring Q&A books that are specifically meant for board preparation and associated with a comprehensive study guide rather than a series of questions that is released in isolation. The assumption here is that the answers/explanations SHOULD tie in seamlessly with the core content. Unfortunately, that assumption falls flat most of the time, which is why it's IMPERATIVE to STUDY from a well-written and easy-to-understand study guide that doesn't overwhelm you.
  • The boards are not always current! PREP does a great job of staying current, but the ABP questions you'll see on the boards are not always that up to date. So BE CAREFUL.
  • PREP answers/explanations often go into excellent detail to explain all possible viewpoints. When you're studying for the boards, EFFICIENCY IS KEY so SKIM the answers!
  • Whatever question you decide to use, try to make sure the resource uses “efficiency of chosen words,” and gives you the highest yield facts in a manner that is memorable.

PREP is a great tool when used correctlySo, to answer the question posed in the title of this article, “Why AAP PREP Questions Are NOT The Best Study Questions,” I would say that it's almost impossible to find ANY board prep questions that would do a good job of serving as a stand along STUDY resource.

ALL board prep questions should be used for PRACTICE rather than STUDY. Also, ANY question bank that offers CME may be great for ongoing education, but MAY not be ideal for solid board preparation.


The PBR study guide and Q&A books are specifically targeted towards diseases and questions that are of the highest-yield on the boards time and time again. And if you're going to use other board prep questions… then use them the RIGHT way after reading How Many AAP PREP Questions Should I Do?

So what are you waiting for? Click here to get your hardcopy or digital version of PBR's Q&A and Hot Topics book now.

Welcome to Pediatrics Board Review!
Pediatrics Board Review: A Resource for Pediatric Residents and Pediatricians
Ashish Goyal, M.D.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
John copern -

What about PREP for MOC recertification exam? I’ve been using it for 10 years and find it very high quality information. I took the MOC recertification test 8 years ago and passed using only the PREP. I will take the MOC recertification test again in 1.5 years – much different? much harder? What other study guides are good for the MOC recertification exam?

Ashish Goyal, M.D. -

Hi John,

Yes. PREP is a great tool for the MOC to use for practice. Again, I think your core ingestion of knowledge should always be through a good, board-focused study guide like the PBR. The pass rate for the MOC is quite high, but even so… I have heard of a few people failing. For PBR members, the pass rate has been 100% for general pediatricians. Subspecialists have also had tremendous success.

Hope that helps.
– Ashish


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