Stephanie was an OB/GYN physician with good academic standing and the confidence that she’d ace her OB/GYN boards. To prepare for the written exam, she tapped a number of study resources, practiced hundreds of test questions, read continuously, and attended online webinars.
However, despite her comprehensive preparation, she failed the exam. She was devastated. She could take the exam again in a year, but she couldn’t imagine studying any harder than she did the first time. So she set out to find a way to not just study harder, but smarter.
13% Will Fail The OB/GYN Board
Stephanie is just one of thousands of OB/GYN residents who, each year, take the written exam toward the basic certification in OB/GYN. Administered by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), the Basic Written Board Exam is the first of a two-part series of exams in which a passing grade leads to physician’s certification by ABOG.
Despite its importance in obtaining certification, nearly 13 percent will FAIL the exam. And for those taking it for the second, third – or more – times, nearly half will fail. With all the study resources out there, how does failure happen?
Familiarity is Key
It’s important to get to know the test.
The ABOG written exam is only given in multiple-choice format. The content area with the most associated questions is Obstetrics (Preconception/Antenatal Care is 40 percent of Obstetrics portion), followed by a quarter of the content in Gynecology (Diagnostic and Preoperative Evaluation, Surgical Management and Neoplasia) and another quarter in Gynecological Office Practice and Women’s Health. Approximately 10 percent is in Cross Content areas such as patient safety, epidemiology and ethics.
The OB/GYN Boards are administered at Pearson Vue centers across the US. Pearson’s offers more information on the application process, identification process and scheduling.
Pass Or Fail
Results of the exam are typically revealed in September of the same year. What happens next? If you pass, that’s great, and you start the process for your oral exam.
If you fail, all is not lost because you’ll get more chances. There are some stipulations, however. If you fail the written exam five consecutive times, you’ll need to complete additional education before becoming eligible to sit for the written exam again.
Also, starting in 2017, all OB/GYN physicians must achieve board certification within eight years of having training completed. If not, you’ll face 12 months of additional residency training in an ACGME-approved training program.
Lessons Learned from Failure
Failing the exam is usually not for lack of preparation. Residents who fail have used numerous study methods and invested countless hours building their knowledge before test day.
Some may admit to not studying the right way, however. Cramming usually doesn’t work. Successful test takers say these three elements of study prep can lead to good outcomes:
- Design an individualized and comprehensive study plan and stick to it
- Assess your progress
- Self-regulate your studying
Design an Individualized and Comprehensive Study Plan
The first meaningful first step in preparation for OB/GYN boards is to set study goals, make a learning plan and become accountable to that plan. Developing a ‘learning contract’ holds you accountable to sticking with the study regimen.
Next, pick learning modalities that best fit you. Some options include:
- Online webinars
- DVDS (Exam Pro DVD, ABC DVD, Oslers audio series)
- Three-Day Study Camps
- Five-day Board Review Courses
Assess Your Progress
As you finish your first few weeks of studying, you’re going to want to reevaluate your subject strengths and weaknesses. Your weaknesses can act as a blind spot during your exam, so it’s crucial that you spend the majority of your time on improving them. Through TrueLearn’s analytics dashboard, we automatically identify your weakest subject areas, allowing for your knowledge to become more well rounded for your exam.
Self Regulate Your Studying
With your exam getting closer and closer, you’re going to want to ramp up your studying efforts. We believe the most effective way to do so is to increase the number of ABOG-style practice questions that you take per week. Intensifying your regimen, while focusing on your weaknesses, is a proven tactic we have seen thousands of medical professionals have success with.