If you are currently or have been in the past a paediatrician in training, you may have undertaken the gruelling journey of passing the board exam. You’re over a year into your residency and nearing completion, but one exam looms large: the Pediatric Boards Exam. It takes place once every two years and is a high-pressure event that will determine your future career path as an attending physician.
Unsurprisingly, many candidates tend to crack under the pressure of the exam. The material is rigid, and some questions are so complex that they have stumped every doctor who tried to solve them during their career as paediatricians. Here are some steps to take after failing the pediatric board exam.
1. Decide When to Retake the Exam
If you’re deciding to retake the exam, then there is no point in fretting over previous results. Instead, you should focus on the present and ensure that you are better prepared the next time it is taken. However, don’t take this decision lightly. You should weigh the cost of taking the exam versus re-training if it is not passed. In addition, you should also consider whether or not you would be better suited to pursuing another career path. It is a decision that must be taken carefully.
2. Prepare for the Exam from Scratch
If you are determined to retake the exam, you must ensure that you have thoroughly reviewed the board’s material. You must also ensure that your preparation does not make your performance worse. For example, if, for some reason, you felt that your previous attempt at passing the exam was due to a specific problem, such as difficulty in completing a case study, then it probably would be best to start from scratch and take another stab at passing the exam. Doing this ensures that your preparation is thorough – not just focused on the specific area that tripped you up before.
3. Identify Your Weaknesses in Studying
It is also essential to understand which areas of the exam you feel are weakest in. If you failed the exam because of a weak area, then it is best not to try and focus your preparation on this area of study. Instead, it would be better for you to attempt a more general approach and aim for success in all areas – especially if this involves cramming for the exam. In addition, if you feel that your overall study strategy consists in making specific decisions, such as whether or not a patient needs an immunization, then it would be beneficial to ensure that your decision-making strategy remains intact.
4. Seek a Coach or Consultant
If you’re feeling stuck and aren’t sure whether or not to retake the exam, then it would be wise to seek the advice of a consulting board member. It could be by appointment with an attending physician in your institution, but it may also mean asking one of your clinical mentors for help. In addition, there are numerous websites that you can use for coaching and advice. Make sure, however, that you consult with someone well-versed in the subject matter. Failed pediatric boards usually require extra support, and in this case, it is recommended that you seek the services of a board member who is an expert in the field.
5. Create a Study Schedule
Once you have carefully considered your strengths and weaknesses, creating a study schedule that includes your weaknesses is essential. It is done by breaking up the board’s exam material into manageable portions. For example, you could break up the exam into six subsections, each of which should ideally be covered in two weeks for at least 16 hours of study.
Note that this schedule is not for studying daily but should be used to understand what you need to learn and then devote time during your study schedule, which will occur over an extended period, to learning this information.
The Pediatric Boards Exam is a gruelling experience that can determine the rest of your career path. The best advice for someone who has failed the exam is to seek the help of an expert coach who can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have identified these areas, creating a study schedule that involves a strong and focused study strategy is essential.
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