Of Course a Course?
Even if you are an auditory learner, attending a pediatric board review course is often not enough. Live board review courses are primarily a good way to preview what you should be studying and/or serve as a review to reinforce the material you have already studied in board review books and questions. Even within a board review course one will find wide variation in the lectures. Some lecturers are very good at providing high yield pearls and focus their lecture on the board exam. Other lecturers just give their standard lecture on their area that includes clinical information and research that is not helpful to those of us who are only interested in passing the exam at this point in your career.
Less is More
Often out of desperation, after failing the boards there is a tendency to buy every book written and attend every course you “ heard” was good. It is better to focus in on a limited number or resources and really work with them than to surround yourself with a forest of books and material. 20% of the material out there will give you 80% of the results. Focus on the 20% that will work for you. There is nothing wrong with using the same resources as before or updated editions, as long as you take a new approach.
The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes the Content Specifications of topics you need to focus on in preparing for the pediatric board exam, which is similar to the content specifications for the Pediatric Maintenance of Certification/ Recertification exam published by the American Board of Pediatrics. It can be found here
Included in the content specifications are important images and illustrations you must be familiar with. Therefore you will need a good access and/or material that will help you distinguish between similar looking illustrations, tables and photos.
There is very little variation from year to year regarding the topics emphasized in the content specifications. The core material needed to pass the boards is fairly static.
Reinforce with Review
Remember to review the material you studied the previous study session. With each progressive week the sections you have reviewed more than 3 times will become less and less time consuming. At the end you will be studying the areas you were stronger in to begin with.
In fact each study session you should begin my answering board review questions from the material you studied the previous week to gauge how well you actually mastered the material and to identify any gaps.
Missed it by That Much
Of course most pediatricians who failed the exam tell us they failed by only a few points. In the past the curve has been set up so that everyone who fails the exam misses it by a small margin, which often comes down to 10-15 questions. We have heard that the grading system has changed somewhat and that instead of a curve, passing is based on answering a minimum number or percentage of questions correctly. This will be the subject of a future blog. In the meantime we still suspect that passing and failing will still come down to 10 -15 questions making the difference between passing and failing the boards.
We have outlined some important steps you can take that will help you answer the 10-15 that make the difference between failing and passing the boards successfully.
We have heard from some of you who are taking the exam again and wish to hear from more of you. This will enable us to help share, anonymously of course, the experience of others. This pooled information can further help repeat board takers finally get it done.
Finally, we know you may feel like this now:
But once you outline a study schedule and strategy you should and need to feel like this: