Preparing for an ABPMR Examination
Study Tips & Resources
Review the Exam Outline
- Lists content areas and relative exam weights
- Helps you see at a glance what’s important to know
- Can help you identify gaps in knowledge;
study major texts to shore up weak areas
- To find your exam’s outline, navigate to the appropriate exam page, scroll down to “Examination Resources” at the bottom of that page, and click the link to download the outline.
Employ Research-Backed Study Methods
Test-enhanced learning research has shown that rather than reading material over and over, testing yourself improves long-term information retention and retrieval. It’s especially effective if you study from test questions provided from a reputable source (see “Other Resources” for guidelines).
Break it down.
Try breaking up study sessions into small chunks and review just a little at a time, correlating concepts with clinical scenarios when possible. Spread out these shorter sessions over several months to cover all the clinical topic areas in small bites. (The ABPMR recommends major textbooks for studying.)
Forgetting is a surprisingly big part of learning new information. But if you quiz yourself 4 to 7 days after learning something new, you retain a greater percentage of new knowlege. Continue repeating these self-tests over increasing intervals and your retention will keep improving.
Find a friend.
After using repeated testing and studying clinical scenarios to learn the content, try explaining it to someone else. This helps connect your new knowledge with established knowledge and has been shown to moderately improve memory retention.
References: Repeated testing produces superior transfer of learning relative to repeated studying. Butler AC. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 2010, Dec.;36(5):1939-1285. | Test-enhanced learning: taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Roediger HL, Karpicke JD. Psychological science, 2006, May.;17(3):0956-7976. | Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping. Karpicke JD, Blunt JR. Science, 2011, Feb.;331(6018):772-775. | Synaptic evidence for the efficacy of spaced learning. Karmar EA, Babayan AH, Gavin CF. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2012, Mar.;109(13):1091-6490. | Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Dunlosky J et al. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 2013, Jan.;14(1)4-58.
The ABPMR does not endorse any third-party board review courses or practice questions. If you plan to use these tools, first evaluate quality based on ABPMR standards:
- Resource covers the entire scope of exam outline
- Practice questions use clinical scenario
- Each question’s correct answer isn’t easy to guess
- Helps you identify knowledge gaps with instructions for further study
The ABPMR is conducting ongoing research on our examinations and candidate performance. Click the link to view the latest studies, which may be instructive in helping you plan the timing of your exams and the methods you use for study.