5 High Yield Pearls for Success on the ABIM Internal Medicine Boards

It's crunch time for the ABIM Internal Medicine Boards , and "High Yield" is key. You don't want to waste your time, and you want to be as efficient as possible. Well, I recently gave a lecture entitled, "Dr. Rezaie's 5 Pearls to Passing the Boards." This is a general post, and can be used for any standardized test in your last few weeks of preparation.

Pearl # 1: Always read the question first, look over the answers, then go back and read the question stem

  • You waste your time reading the passage and looking at the labs first
  • What do you focus on?
  • How many times do you go back and forth between passage and answers?
  • This process wastes precious time
  • Instead read the question and answers first and then go back and read the passage.
  • Some questions can even be answered without reading the passage

Pearl # 2: Know the breakdown of the test

  • Specifically for the ABIM board exam "THE BIG 5" are:
  1. General Internal Medicine
  2. Cardiovascular Disease
  3. Gastroenterology
  4. Infectious Disease
  5. Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care
  • These 5 sections alone compromise approximately 50 – 60% of the exam
  • If time is short, focus on these five sections
  • Ideally, you have left yourself enough time to go over all sections, but if time is short, reading over things like dermatology are not high yield

Pearl # 3: Know the big 4 of medical decision-making

  • If you can answer 4 questions about every disease process, you will be prepared for over 80% of the questions on the test:
  1. What is the BEST initial test?
  2. What is the MOST ACCURATE test?
  3. What is the BEST initial therapy / treatment?
  4. What is the NEXT BEST STEP in management?
  • These four questions are known as "The Fischer Method"

Pearl # 4: Pick a single book and question bank and stick with it

  • There are so many options, and all are good.
  • Personally, I think Med Study reads the easiest and is the most high yield followed by MKSAP
  • Ultimately pick one resource and stick with it. Buying five different resources is not realistic to complete and you will not get through all the information
  • Also pick one question bank and stick with it.
  • Whether it be Knowmedge, MKSAP, MedStudy, or Kaplan, you will be able to pass if you learn the material
  • Personally, I have used the Knowmedge and MKSAP question banks and felt like both were very comparable to the ABIM Board Exam

Pearl # 5: Focus on most commons

  • I would know the top 3 conditions of each area cold
  • ie Top 3 infectious disease killers in the world are HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
  • ie 3 of the top 5 killers in the world are Cardiovascular diseases, Infectious diseases, and chronic lung disease (No wonder Cardiovascular, pulmonary / critical care, and infectious diseases are 3 of "THE BIG 5")

In addition to these 5 High Yield Pearls also consider another FREE resource such as Twitter (My personal recommendations …