Study Tips Series: How I Study Smarter For The ABIM Board Certification
Name: Christine Moore, DO
Institution: University of Texas Health Science Center
Specialty: Hematology/oncology (fellowship)
Year of Residency: Year 1 fellow, completed IM residency in 2019
Last Exam Taken: American Board of Internal Medicine (August 2019)
- Describe your study style in one word? Efficient
- Where do you study?
Wherever my mindset is (while walking to and from places answering multiple-choice questions or reading PDFs on my Smartphone or iPad mini; I enjoy studying in quiet places like my home or the library, but I have the ability to concentrate in places where there is a steady stream of background noise, such as coffee shops, shopping malls, or airports).
- When do you study?
Again, whenever my mindset is (answering multiple-choice questions or reading chapters/journal articles on websites in between patients at work, early in the morning when I wake up, during meals, or after work before bed).
- What tools do you use to study?
I use an online question bank and take notes on paper. I like online question banks and literary resources because they can be accessed on different electronic devices and are easy to travel with. However, I will often take the questions with a paper and pen so I can record my answer choices and mark how confident I feel, then write down notes from the question explanation to study later on. I recommend that everyone buy the book How to Study for Standardized Tests by Donald Sefcik, Gillian Bice, and Frank Prerost. It changed my way of studying from medical school and beyond with incredible results.
- How do you decide what to study?
I study from every topic that can be tested on each exam and create a detailed schedule with exam blueprint topics for each week of the year. Sample of study schedule below.
- How do you balance your studying with your other priorities?
For every academic year, I create an Excel spreadsheet with each week of the year detailing what tasks I have to do (See screenshot above). It includes topics I need to study as well as chapters I need to read and how many multiple-choice questions I need to do. The weeks also list what clinical rotations I have going on and events that I need to attend.
- What is a study method that you used to do but then realized it doesn’t work for you?
When I was in medical school, I used mind maps that worked very well when all of my time was devoted to studying. However, I tried using mind maps in my second year of internal medicine residency and realized I did not have the time to be able to sit down and create such detailed study devices. I did better with answering multiple-choice questions and reading topics from textbooks or websites.
- What is your #1 tip for efficient and effective studying?
Practice for the test you will take. This means reviewing the topics that are tested on the exam blueprint and reading about the topics as well as answering multiple-choice questions. I cannot stress enough how important it is to go through the questions and rate how well you feel you know the information at hand. This will help you know your unique strengths and weaknesses as well as discover information you thought you knew that you can relearn correctly before you take the exam.