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When Should I Start Studying for the Pediatrics Boards?

Passing the pediatrics boards is the final step needed to become a board certified pediatrician! You have completed three years of residency, and now this one test is the last thing standing in your way. However, preparation for this exam actually begins in residency. There is no “right” time to start studying, but this post will walk you through what to focus on at key times during your pediatrics residency.

How to Study for the Pediatrics Board During Residency

Starting as a first-year resident, it is super helpful to start reading information that will help you for with your pediatric board certification and your clinical practice. As an AAP member you will get access to Pediatrics in Review and PREP questions. I recommend that you work through both of these resources while in residency!

Pediatrics in Review is a magazine containing high-yield pediatric topics on everything from neonatal jaundice to hypertension. The magazine is easy to read and full of great clinical pearls for your career as a pediatrician and for the board exam.

There are two approaches to getting through Pediatrics in Review:

1. Read each issue cover to cover each month when it is released.


2. Read specific articles when they relate to your patients. Either approach from the start of residency will prevent the issues from piling up without being used.


PREP is a question bank with board exam-style questions that are accessed with your AAP membership. Each year, a new test is released with ~240 questions. The tests are available for 3 years starting in January. Even as a first-year, I would recommend completing the oldest test before it disappears. Each year try to complete one PREP test (less than 1 question a day!).


If you study best with review books, your final year of residency would be a good time to read through the MedStudy review book or other similar resource. These books are often very dense and difficult to complete if one tries to read it during their dedicated studying time.


Studying for Pediatrics Board Certification After Residency

Studying for your pediatrics board after residency looks different depending on whether you are in fellowship, working as a hospitalist, or working as an outpatient pediatrician. If you are working, many employers will give you several weeks off around boards for dedicated studying. However, that may not be possible when in fellowship. It is possible to study and pass the peds boards even during a busy fellowship.

Most people do not start seriously studying for boards until July after completing residency. Since you did the bulk of your reading during residency, this time is spent mostly on questions and review. Your goal should be to complete your chosen question bank at least once.

In addition to completing questions, you need a way to cement the information. Flash cards either created by yourself or by a company like MedStudy can be very useful. I recommend doing questions with flashcard review every day from July until October.

Tips for Studying After You’ve Failed the Pediatrics Boards

If you failed your pediatric boards, do NOT worry. Many people fail the first time and are able to pass in subsequent years. However, it does mean extending your preparation time.

After you get a failing score, you can take a week to be sad. However, after that, it is time to get to work!

If you failed the exam, you likely need a stronger foundation. A book will be imperative. A good review book is the MedStudy book. While reading a chapter, do the corresponding questions in the question bank and complete the flashcards on the topic to cement what you are reading. A tutor can be helpful for creating a personalized schedule throughout the year.

Another useful resource is the study program from Pediatrics Board Review. They have questions, books, videos, and audio resources.


You can do it!

Boards studying starts with residency. However, no matter if you are years or weeks out from your test date, we can help you create a personalized schedule to help you pass your pediatrics boards!