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Study Tips For Improving Performance Post-PGY-1-IM-ITE (PGY-2 and PGY-3)

Monday, May 4, 2020
By The TrueLearn Team

Caveat: This post provides study tips for improving performance post-PGY-1-ITE. It is recommended that you do not study specifically for the ITE as it is a practice exam that residents can use to assess themselves and identify strengths and areas for improvement. After the exam results come out, you can tailor your study plan for the next year.

The types of tools to use to study for the exam:

  • Online questions banks (TrueLearn IM Prep)
    • Where you should focus most of your time. You can choose questions from Internal Medicine subspecialties in several modes (ex. timed or tutor) and watch your progress as you answer them. Most have apps available on your smartphone so you can study while on-the-go.
  • Reading materials
    • These should be supplementary to question banks as these do not simulate the testing experience as well. Internal Medicine textbooks such as Goldman-Cecil Medicine, printed study books, and websites such as are helpful to look up information and review topics in greater detail.
    • One book that I found very helpful is How to Study for Standardized Tests by Donald Sefcik, Gillian Bice, and Frank Prerost. It can help you maximize your study time and improve your performance.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Tools to manage time and create schedules, attention to healthy habits (ex. fitness, nutrition, relationships with family and friends, sleep, etc.)

An example study plan/schedule: (see schedule – Internal Medicine resident on in-patient ward rotation)

Where to focus effort:

  • Spend more time on the areas in need of improvement. It is easier and more gratifying to spend time studying topics that you enjoy and in which you perform well. However, this will not lead to greater gains on the next ITE (or ABIM). Study hardest topics first when you have more mental energy. As you get closer to the end of the study session and test date, add back those topics that are easier for you to provide a boost in confidence.

Best practices and tips:

  • Find the study time that works best for you (ex. early morning, midday, afternoon, evening, etc.) and keep it consistent. Block off this time in your daily (or weekly) schedule to make sure you get it done.
  • Approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the exam, review the ITE tutorial and practice questions to get a sense of what to expect on test date. This is very important if you are prone to test day anxiety.


Detailed Study Schedule:

Try TrueLearn's Internal Medicine SmartBank for free!