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So the ABIM is Coming Up – How Should I Study While Finishing Residency?

  • by Sarah Godfrey
  • May 10, 2022
The end of PGY3 is a busy, exciting, and chaotic time in residency. You’re applying for jobs, planning a move for a new fellowship, and/or working intense rotations. Amidst all the logistics of finishing residency, it can be easy to forget that you have an exam coming up. Hopefully, you have been studying throughout residency (especially during your 3rd year), but it can be very easy to get off schedule during the last few months of residency. Here are some tips to help keep you on track for your exam in August.
Make yourself a forgiving study schedule. 
With all the things you must juggle right now, make sure you have plenty of wiggle room in your study schedule. Factor in “catch up” days to allow yourself time for the unexpected paperwork for fellowship onboarding or a busy call shift. If you assume everything will take you twice as long, you will ensure you have plenty of time to get through the material.
Choose 1-3 resources to focus on.
Earlier in residency, you may have used a variety of books, videos, and Qbanks to study medicine. At this point, it is more important to focus on finishing a few resources than to explore a wide variety. Pick a Qbank that works for you, and make sure you finish it at least once (if not twice) before your exam. If you have the time or have struggled with standardized tests, try to get through 2 Qbanks and use only 1 review book as a reference guide. It is unrealistic to expect to read all of the MKSAP books at this point, so use your review book strategically to review concepts that you are consistently getting wrong (NOT to read it cover to cover).
Try to arrange a lighter schedule in July or August. 
If you are starting fellowship, consider asking for a lighter rotation or call schedule over the summer to allow for more study time. If you are starting a new attending position, consider asking to start later or to have a few weeks of dedicated study time. This, of course, depends on your new position, but many programs are able to adjust your schedule for you to do an intense review right before your test.
Consider a boards review course or dedicated tutoring.
If you are someone who struggles with standardized tests or you have not started studying yet, you may want to consider a more intensive strategy. Many residency programs offer online or in-person courses to review the content in a condensed week or weekend session. If you may need more help with content review, you can also consider one-on-one tutoring to help focus on your weaker areas.
If at any point in this process, you feel like you need more guidance or individualized tutoring/mentoring, please reach out to Med School Tutors. We have multiple advanced boards tutors available to help guide you through the process of learning in residency, planning your fellowship and career path, and succeeding on the medicine boards.
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