Preparing for the Pediatrics Boards Exam? How would you answer this example question?
Q: THE BEST DIAGNOSTIC ANTIBODY TITER IN PATIENTS WITH STREPTOCOCCAL SKIN INFECTION IS:
A. Antistreptolysin O titer is elevated.
B. Serum C3 level is decreased.
C. Serum C3 level is increased
D. Antistreptolysin O titer is decreased
E. Deoxyribonuclease (DNase) B antigen is present
This question is relatively straightforward, which is the easiest kind of question to tackle. However, a majority of the questions on the Pediatrics Board exam will get you considering a number of answers, some of which seem likely, but only one of the answers will be the best answer.
While the multiple-choice format of the ABP General Pediatrics Certifying Exam is helpful to some, to others, it can contribute to a failing grade. It’s estimated that about 13 percent failed the Pediatrics Boards last year despite the vast number of study resources available. Why?
THE PEDIATRIC BOARDS: A 7-HOUR EXAM
Before exploring the strategies for successful test outcomes, let’s review a bit more about the nature of the test itself.
Certification for the Pediatrics Boards comes courtesy of The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), and signifies that you – as a pediatrician or pediatric sub-specialist – finished your training and were properly evaluated.
The exam, which is estimated to include nearly 350 questions, is given once a year in the fall, usually October. While the exam used to be graded on a set curve, it no longer is. Some theorize the elimination of the curve led to the development of more difficult questions.
The exam is given on one day during a 3-day period at Prometric testing centers located throughout the US. While breaks are scheduled into the testing day, the ABP General Pediatrics Certifying Exam could take you seven hours to complete.
PREPPING FOR THE PEDIATRICS BOARDS: THE BEST STUDY HABITS
Through a quick Google search, you’ll find a number of past test takers offering advice for study habits that led to success or to lessons learned. Some admit to studying up to 300 hours, every day, during each spare crack of time, for one full year. Others got their hands on every resource available to ensure content was not missed. Some of these learning modalities include:
- Taking a Board review course
- Using study guides
- Performing self-assessments
- Partnering with a study buddy
- Reviewing pictures and not just questions
- Participating in a 5-day review and panel discussion
- Listening to lectures
- Running through flash cards
In addition, the help guides on the ABP website are referred to as useful as they covered everything from exam content to administration of the test. You can understand more about what’s on the test from reviewing ABP’s content outline (97 pages long), which was last updated on January 2015.
One piece of advice from past exam takers? Take a lot of test questions for practice and make sure you get at least 75 percent on your practice tests. If you’re consistently scoring higher on your practice tests, then you’re better able to assess your progress and have more of a realistic view going into exam day.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEST QUESTIONS
Subscribing to question banks like TrueLearn’s and having the ability to be served up test questions consistently in the months leading up to your Pediatric Boards is a helpful study strategy because:
- You’ll get comfortable with the structure of the questions – which mirrors the Boards. How is the ‘best answer’ usually presented to me? Which kinds of words in the questions need my attention? What is the way in which the content is packaged?
- You’ll get accustomed to the design of the test. Whether you’re practicing questions from your mobile phone or desktop, your experience will take place on a design similar to the design of the ABP Pediatrics Board exam. This helps you intuitively understand navigation quickly and can be one less thing to tackle on exam day.
- Continuous questions means continuous learning. Take a question while you break for lunch, in between rounds, or on the subway home. The quick and easy way in which you can ‘take a question’ and answer it helps with recall and in solidifying your confidence, which is a leading factor to a successful outcome.
- Content based on the ABP Pediatrics Exam blueprint. Our questions aim to support the blueprint of the exam itself, helping you understand the content in addition to understanding question structure.
- You’ll benefit from personalized feedback. With our advanced analytics, you learn how you learn! As you go, you get summary and detailed score reports so you can understand your areas of weakness and know where to focus your future time. Plus, you get an intimate understanding of your progress.
Good luck on your exam!