The Internal Medicine Board Exam is fairly difficult with a mean pass rate of 85% from 2011 to 2013. The mean is based on 434 schools that were sampled. Although the pass rate seems low, there are a few low tier schools that drag down the overall mean. Students from solid programs, that spend sufficient time preparing, generally do quite well. Additionally, there are a few tips and tricks that can really improve your chance of passing:
- Understand the distribution of the exam – About three quarters of the questions are focused on General Internal Medicine and Internal Medicine Subspecialties. The ABIM apparently sticks pretty closely to the Internal Medicine Exam category breakout that has been published.The Certification Examination Blueprint also highlights what should be a good approach to your study plan. ‘The majority of questions are based on patient presentations.’ There are, in fact, a FEW fact recall type questions, but they’re definitely in the minority. Make sure that your study practice is not memorization, but taking more of the application or prioritization type.
- Pay attention to the alternate type questions – Most students only practice with traditional multiple choice questions. There are several questions that require listening to and interpreting sounds. Specifically, make sure to know your normal and abnormal heart sounds. (S1-S4)
- Pay attention to the Cardiovascular Diseases – Cardiovascular disease is 14% of the exam and this section can really, really make or break you. Advice from @srrezaie: ‘Know the Physical Exam Findings for Cardiovascular Diseases!’
- Take a sample exam directly from Prometric – Prometric ABIM Online Exam Tutorial is a great sample exam and is direct from the ABIM. It’s a good way to know what tools you have available during the exam, how the flow works, and you can also time yourself.
- Know some of the ‘gems’ that come up repeatedly – Zoonoses, Lupus, Celiac Sprue, and Thyroid Disease. Systolic murmurs and ECG centered questions tend to be very common on the exam as well. One user mentioned that a joint complaint question stumped them as well.
Good luck on your boards! Try Board Vitals’ over 1200 Internal Medicine Board Review Questions.