Failed Your Pediatric Board Exam? What’s next?

failed pediatric board nurse with toddler

So your Pediatric Board Exam didn’t go as planned. There is no way to sugar coat it- you failed the boards. Now you are faced with another round of studying and need to retake the exam. You would probably rather have a root canal. But before you sink into the depths of dread, you need to know two things:

  1. Understand how to study can make the process more efficient
  2. Understand how the exam is written can make your test taking more strategic.

According to the American Board of Pediatrics, 86% of first-time test takers passed the pediatric boards. You are not alone in needed to retake the exam. This time around, you’ll need a strategic approach to taking the exam the second time around. 

This is not your medical school’s exam

The board is not designed to test you based on the curriculum of your classes. It doesn’t need your understanding of the fine details of pediatric skin disorders. Forget about quoting facts and figures of childhood diseases- that’s not what this test is about. The board exam is written to test your ability to get the right diagnosis and that means you have to master two elements: pattern recognition and knowing associations. Remember that – it’ll be the roadmap for your new study strategy.

Laser focus your studies

If you can take a set of symptoms, physical signs, and/or laboratory values and translate them into a particular diagnosis, you’re good to go- that’s pattern recognition. If you can recognize medical “buzzwords” and use them to come up with the right diagnosis, you are all set with the “knowing associations” element.

When it comes to specific topics, the American Academy of Pediatrics has actually made it rather straightforward. They have a particular set they like to emphasize for their questions and those are the topics you need to focus on to succeed. Don’t waste your time with other things and don’t get detoured studying materials from medical school. Focus your time and energy on only the specific areas that the board exam is going to test. Your experience and context from medical school will provide everything else you need. We provide you with an overview of the topics they like to test, so read them here.

You’re not alone. We’ve got your back. You can pass the boards. Keep your head in a calm, confident place so you can nail the grade and get on with your career. This minor hiccup will not keep you from the career path you want and for which you are working so hard.

Want some free questions? Start with a free trial to a question bank with more than 1500 questions targeted to the ABP and I-ITE exams.

Deborah Chiaravalloti is an award-winning writer and former hospital executive. Her insider experience helps healthcare clients launch medical procedures, products including artificial intelligence software and knowledge sharing platforms. Deborah writes websites, blogs, opinion pieces, and marketing strategy for elder care, health care consumerism, revenue cycle management (RCM), and the business of healthcare. Her printed pieces have been published and her radio shows syndicated nationally.

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