How Do I Study for LA-PM&R?

Throughout the pilot and since we announced implementation plans, the ABPMR has found that going from a high-stakes MOC Examination to Longitudinal Assessment for PM&R (LA-PM&R) using CertLink requires a shift in thinking about what this type of assessment means for continuing certification.

And it is a major shift: A high-stakes, snapshot-in-time assessment of knowledge (an exam) is a very different approach to assessment compared to LA-PM&R, which is designed as an ongoing assessment for learning — that is, the questions themselves, along with the critiques, references and resources, as well as how they’re administered (with spaced repetition and knowledge gap analysis), is all designed to help you learn over time. Indeed, part of the scoring for LA-PM&R takes into account evidence of learning, awarding partial credit for clones of questions previously answered incorrectly.

So… how do we study for LA?

Even when pointing out all these tools for learning that are built into longitudinal assessment, it can be difficult to shift out of exam thinking. Several pilot participants asked us, “but how do I study for LA-PM&R?,” sometimes asking for an outline to be released prior to each quarter (similar, we assume, to the type of examination outline we provide for secure examinations).

Beyond the obvious difficulty in producing an outline for LA-PM&R — questions will vary widely per diplomate depending on your selections in our customization system — even if all diplomates had the same questions, there’s really no purpose behind a one-size-fits-all outline. Over time, the platform will show you your knowledge gaps and provide resources for improvement and further learning. You’ll be able to create your own plan for ‘studying’ for future questions according to your knowledge gaps and your customization preferences.

The platform IS the study tool

It takes some getting used to, but it’s a good thing that your final assessment will be based on the previous four years’ answers to your LA-PM&R questions. Those four years will give you ample time to discover your knowledge gaps, use provided resources to learn, and steadily improve over time. Even without seeking learning tools outside the platform, research on longitudinal assessment has shown that quizzing with spaced repetition alone — one of the hallmarks of our program design with question clones — results in improved memory retention and learning over time.

As you begin to use LA-PM&R and get used to the new idea of assessment for learning, you may discover a much more effective way of ‘studying:’ We hope you’ll use the platform itself as an increasingly personalized learning tool, not just to demonstrate competency for the purpose of continuing board certification, but to continually improve for your patients.

We're here to help

Questions about LA-PM&R or how implementation plans affect your MOC requirements? Read the information on our website here, including a “What About Me?” visual timeline, and then contact the ABPMR MOC team with any additional questions.

Originally Published: August 29, 2019