Psychiatry Recertification for Attendings

Psychiatry Board Review Questions and Practice Tests

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“Wow! The questions on BoardVitals were just like the ones on my actual examination. As a busy resident, I couldn't have asked for a more convenient and affordable way to study. Thank you, BoardVitals!”

David Patton, MD
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow at Duke University

gold key Key Psychiatry Board Review Features


Information about the ABPN Psychiatry Certification Exam

This exam is geared for candidates in the specialty of psychiatry who are seeking ABPN Board Certification.

What is covered on the ABPN Psychiatry Certification exam?

According to the ABPN Certification Exam in Psychiatry Content Blueprint, the following topics are covered:

Dimension 1: Psychiatric Disorders and Topics

  1. Developmental processes and development through the life cycle 2-4%
  2. Disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence (Neurodevelopmental disorders) 3-5%
  3. Substance-related and addictive disorders 7-11%
  4. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders 8-12%
  5. Depressive disorders 8-12%
  6. Bipolar and related disorders 4-6%
  7. Anxiety disorders 7-9%
  8. Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders 2-4%
  9. Trauma- and stressor-related disorders 4-6%
  10. Dissociative disorders 1-2%
  11. Somatic symptom and related disorders 2-4%
  12. Eating disorders 2-4%
  13. Elimination disorders 1-2%
  14. Sleep-wake disorders 3-5%
  15. Sexual dysfunctions 1-3%
  16. Gender dysphoria 1-2%
  17. Disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders 1-3%
  18. Personality disorders 5-7%
  19. Paraphilic disorders 1-2%
  20. Other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention 1-3%
  21. Neurocognitive disorders 6-8%
  22. Neurologic disorders 4-6%
  23. Dimension 2 topics without a corresponding Dimension 1 topic 4-6%

Dimension 2: Physician Competencies and Mechanisms

  • Neuroscience and mechanisms of disease 17-23%
  • Behavioral and social sciences 4-6%
  • Clinical aspects of psychiatric and neuropsychiatric disorders 17-23%
  • Diagnostic procedures 8-12%
  • Treatment 25-35%
  • Interpersonal and communication skills 2-4%
  • Professionalism, ethics, and the law 3-5%
  • Practice-based learning and improvement 3-5%
  • Systems-based practice 3-5%

What is the format of the ABPN Psychiatry Certification Exam?

The ABPN Psychiatry Certification Exam is comprised of 425 multiple-choice questions (MCQ) in stand-alone and vignette format. Candidates are allotted 8 hours and 20 minutes of test time.


Stand-alone questions are single best answer MCQ’s that are not associated with any other questions. These questions can be flagged for review or skipped. However, candidates cannot review questions in a section that has been completed.


Vignette questions, also referred to as linked-item set questions are typically two to ten MCQ's linked to a common case that may be presented in either a short video clip (1 to 5 minutes), an audio clip, or in text. Vignette questions must be answered in order to advance to the next question. Therefore, candidates can not skip vignette questions or change vignette questions after they have been answered. See Optional Add-On: Psychiatry Video Vignettes

It is recommended that candidates familiarize themselves with the examination functions by reviewing Sample Screens provided by the ABPN.

Information about the Psychiatry Resident-In-Training Examination® (PRITE®)

The PRITE is an educational resource for psychiatric residents and training programs. Residents who take the PRITE will receive a detailed computer analysis of their test performance in comparison with other residents at a similar level of training. Residency programs use PRITE for assessing the competency of residents among many factors.

What is covered on the PRITE®?

According to the American College of Psychiatrists, the exam is comprised of 300 questions (administered in two parts), which cover the following topics:

  • Neurosciences
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Clinical Psychiatry
  • Development and Maturation
  • Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Epidemiology
  • Diagnostic Procedures
  • Psychopathology & Associated Conditions Across the Lifespan
  • Treatment Across the Lifespan
  • Consultation
  • Issues in Practice
  • Research and Scholarship Literacy
  • Administration

Tips and Tricks for the Psychiatry Boards:


When preparing for an important, and expensive exam like the psychiatry boards, many things are important to keep in mind. First, this exam is difficult, you need to prepare for the psychiatry boards as you did for your USMLE exams. This means spending time every day reading or doing assessment questions like the psychiatry question bank here. Our explanations provide short reviews of a multitude of topics that you may encounter on the exam such as child and adolescent psychiatry, neurology, ethics, psychopharmacology, psychiatry vignettes, and psychiatry video vignettes.


While reviewing, it is helpful to keep a list of areas you feel you need the most review in. Those should be the topics that you return to and review at least twice a week for several weeks before the exam. There are bound to be topics on the psychiatry exam that you were not expecting, so it is good to ensure that you review questions in a multitude of topics so that you have at least touched on most topics that could appear on your test.

Study Ahead

Most of our physician users who have successfully passed state that they studied for between 3-8 months before the ABPN psychiatry board exam date. Those who studied for 6 months or more had the highest success rates, and those who studied less than 2 months had the lowest. Also, those who used the psychiatry question bank no less than every other day, even for short periods, are most likely to pass the psychiatry boards.

Most Difficult Topics

Topics that psychiatrists found most difficult on the boards included questions on defense mechanisms, psychotherapy and historically significant psychotherapists, managing antidepressant overdoses, treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, treatment of various substance abuse disorders, somatoform disorders, factitious disorders, and personality disorders. Ethics also was thought to be difficult and sometimes “tricky”, ethical situations surrounding patient relationships and medication dispensation or refills without seeing the patient in person are commonly tested.

So, take your time, review many psychiatry exam questions, practice on video and written vignettes, and you are likely to pass easily!

BoardVitals is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. BoardVitals designates this Internet Enduring Material for a maximum of 40 AMA PRA Category 1™ Credit(s). Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Further Psychiatry CME info found here.

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology has reviewed the BoardVitals Psychiatry activity and has approved the program as a part of a comprehensive Self-Assessment program, which is mandated by the ABMS as a necessary component of maintenance of certification. This module is eligible for 40 American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) SA credits. One CME credit is equivalent to one ABPN SA credit.