Failed Your Board Exam? How to Recover with BoardVitals

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Failing to pass your board exam is stressful, scary, and discouraging. While you may feel disheartened at your test results, you are not alone. Many individuals do not pass on the first try, and taking the time to review what went wrong can help you achieve success during your next test. There are things you can do to continue on your goal. BoardVitals has special features that make it a top tool to help you prepare for your upcoming attempt.

Digest, Rest, and Assess

After you take some time to come to terms with your test results, give yourself a break from studying, whether it’s a few days or a couple weeks. Your next attempt at the exam is likely six months to a year away. When you’re ready, reflect on what went wrong during the first attempt and assess your exam performance report. Perhaps you ran out of time, or there were gaps in your knowledge of certain topics, or a particular question format such as SATA (select all that apply) tripped you up. Here are some ways the tools in BoardVitals online board review question banks can be used as a powerful remediation tool to help you achieve a passing score on your second attempt.

You Ran Out of Time

Failing your board exam is detrimental to your career, so we tend to want to take our time to make sure we don’t misread a question or accidentally select the wrong answer. However, if you take too long making sure one question is answered perfectly, you risk running out of time and all those remaining unanswered questions will go unscored. This is why it is so important to practice pacing yourself and which is why each BoardVitals question bank comes with the ability to create timed practice quizzes and data on your answer response time. 

Run-Through with Timed Practice Quizzesboardvitals timed quiz

First, calculate how much time you will have to answer each question. For example, each of the four sections that make up the ABIM Internal Medicine Certification Exam consists of up to 60 questions with an allotted time of up to two hours. This means you will have approximately two minutes to answer each question. When you create a timed practice quiz in the BoardVitals platform, you can limit the time you have to answer each question or you can indicate a total time to complete the entire practice quiz. This feature allows you to quasi-simulate the pressure of the actual exam environment,

Answer Response Time Tool

boardvitals answer response timeWith the BoardVitals Medical Exam Prep app, you’ll have access to Answer Response Time data. This data will tell you the average time each question takes you, and how you compare with the board exam average. 

You Had Knowledge Gaps on Certain Topics

Board exams test you on a myriad of different topics, ranging from common specialty areas to detailed concepts. It is only natural that you will have trouble with certain subjects over others. No one is perfect. We all have our weak points, but there are ways to help make your knowledge more well rounded in all topics.

Identify Knowledge Gaps

Most medical boards provide examinees with an Examination Score Report, where you’ll find a breakdown of how you performed on the various test content areas. By understanding which areas you need more help with, you’ll be able to create a customized study plan for your next exam. 

Improve Your Understanding

boardvitals study modeAfter you’ve assessed which topics you need the most improvement on, you can begin focusing on them. One tool in each BoardVitals question bank is that you can select specific subjects to include in your custom practice test, so you can focus your studies more strategically. You can also take questions in “Study Mode,” so you can review the correct answers and explanations as you go and practice at your own pace. Each question includes detailed explanations, reference materials, and evidence-based rationales so you will see exactly why certain answers are incorrect. Past BoardVitals users have told us our explanations are similar to a mini-lecture that helped them learn more about the concept.

Gradually Increase the Difficulty Level

board review question difficultyFurthermore, you can filter the practice questions by difficulty level: Hard, Moderate, or Easy. Start by taking easy questions in your weakest subjects and work up to moderate and hard over time.

Visualize Your Progress

boardvitals performance timelineIf you’re wondering if all your time spent studying is improving over time, refer to your Performance Timeline in our mobile app. The performance timeline is a top BoardVitals tool. It allows users to see a visual representation of their performance over time so you can track how your competency changes as you study.

When you focus on improving your knowledge of the topics that give you trouble, you will be better equipped to score higher on your next exam attempt. 

A Certain Question Format Tripped You Up

board exam question formatSome board exams have everything from single best answer multiple choice questions to fill-in-the-blank questions. Certain tests, like the NCLEX® exam, can include more than seven types of alternate item format questions.

Even if you understand the material, you can still be confused by how to answer these types of questions. Fortunately, there is a way to prep before you face the real thing. Each BoardVitals question bank comes with practice questions written in the same formats that you’ll find on the actual exam such as multiple response items and drag and drop ordered response items. By practicing the formats that you will see on your test, you will be better prepared come test day. 

The Technology Overwhelmed You

nclex cat quizzesThe NCLEX® exam is notorious for the Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) technology found on this exam. Many nursing students struggle with it, but if the CAT technology gave you too much anxiety during your exam, BoardVitals question banks can help you combat NCLEX® test anxiety.

BoardVitals NCLEX-RN® and NCLEX-PN® question banks come equipped with customizable Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) practice quizzes. You are free to practice with an unlimited number of CAT exams, ensuring you will be comfortable with the setup before you head to the exam center. 

You Couldn’t Make Time to Study

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preparing for the boards. However, finding the time to study is essential if you are looking to pass your exam. 

BoardVitals question banks are available 24/7/365 from your computer, tablet, or smartphone app. Whether you are on a break, at home, or somewhere in between, you can access thousands of questions. Questions on our mobile app can be downloaded and accessed offline. 

No matter why you didn’t pass your board exam, you can count on BoardVitals to be a valuable tool to you.

The writing staff at BoardVitals is passionate about medicine, healthcare, and education. We’ve trained over 1.5 million physicians and work with more than 300 top teaching institutions. Learn more about our board review and continuing education products at

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