Articles tagged with: Pediatric Board Review

Quince De Mayo

Written by Stuart Silverstein on Monday, 01 May 2017. Posted in pediatrics board review

If you have a calendar provided by Anheuser Busch or Corona Beer then Cinco De Mayo is a holiday celebrated in US bars everywhere. Cinco De Mayo or as it is known in Mexico, May 5th is an insignificant day outside the State of Puebla and border town Bars catering to Americans on spring break (

However, if you have a calendar provided by the American Board of Pediatrics, then the important date on this calendar is “Quince de Mayo”. This is a date that should be circled in green and red. Quince de Mayo or May 15th as it is known in Chapel Hill, North Carolina is your last chance to sign up for the General Pediatric General Certification exam.

Remember to check your clocks because the day ends early at the American Board of Pediatrics headquarters in Chapel Hill. The deadline is actually at 3:00PM and not midnight on Quince de Mayo.

We do not suggest you wait until the last minute to register for the exam. Murphy’s Cinco De Mayo law suggests that there will always be last minute glitches that can arise. The American Board of Pediatrics warns that these glitches can include incorrect spelling of names and password resets which can take up to 48 hours to fix.

We strongly urge you to also circle Cinco de Mayo on your calendars, and complete your registration before that date (May 5th). Once you have this off your list you will be free to celebrate Cinco De Mayo and raise a toast to your compatriots in the Mexican State of Puebla in an American bar of your choice.

Go ahead what are you waiting for?

Nominate Yourself!

Written by Stuart Silverstein on Friday, 02 September 2016. Posted in pediatrics board review

With the RNC convention DNC convention over, did you ever wish you could just nominate yourself? Well it turns out that you CAN nominate yourself .  Well….you can’t just nominate yourself to be president, although I am not sure who would want to anyway!

You can however, nominate yourself to be on the General Pediatrics Examination Committee. If you are board certified in a pediatric subspecialty you can even nominate yourself to one the subspecialty board exam committees.

If you are selected you will have plenty of power without having to go through debates and public scrutiny of your dress and whether your hair is real or a variation on marsupial fur. You would be involved in reviewing and even writing questions for the in-training exam (ITE), initial certification and maintenance of certification exams. You might even be asked to determine the passing standards for each exam.  Remember no good deed goes unpunished, so when the crowd boos the exam, you will be on stage instead of being in the crowd joining the boo birds in the cheap seats.

For more information on how you can nominate yourself or nominate a friend (or enemy) you can get additional information through this link

Program by Program Passing Rate: Does it Matter?

Written by Stuart Silverstein on Friday, 15 April 2016. Posted in pediatrics board review

The American Board of Pediatrics has a report that includes the pass rates for residents taking the General Pediatric Certification Exam for the first time. The report included the same pass rate for Pediatric Residency Programs both in the US and Canada.  An important stat included in the report was the confidence interval.


They emphasize that the confidence interval is important when interpreting the data. The reason for this is, .. uh , um …. actually at this point I am not sure, since my mind kept wandering as I read the gruesome explanation.  We have included a link to the information which you can read on your own. However, does it really matter?

If you are going to learn about nuanced statistical analysis regarding confidence intervals, you are better off spending your energy studying the statistics topics you are responsible for on the pediatric certification exam.


While this information might be useful on an aggregate level it is not really relevant on an individual basis. In fact, the analysis and explanation of the report focuses primarily on the limitation of the statistics.  They note that the confidence interval varies by the number of trainees, especially those with fewer than 25 trainees (is that your program?). They also note that if there were significant changes in the program during the period of time studied then the data is no longer accurate.

Therefore, we are presenting this information to you, but our take home message is that in your case there is only one trainee you should be interested in regardless of where you are training or trained.  If you prepare and study effectively you should be among the residents who pass the first time around. 

Additionally, if you are taking the exam for the 2nd time, then you can and should implement changes in the way you prepare for the exam.  Remember, the statistics don’t take into consideration those from residency programs that implemented improvements.


It certainly won’t factor in effective exam preparation strategies you will implement regardless of where you trained. In fact, the 6th Edition of our Laughing Your Way to Passing the Pediatric Boards has a chapter on this topic

Remember, the pass rate in this study only includes those who pass the first time they take the exam. If you are among those who successfully pass with flying colors after failing the first time, you aren’t even being factored into this study. As a result, the study has no relevance for anyone taking the board exam for the 2nd time.

Therefore, after a casual glance you can skip this statistical study of the pass rate for pediatric residency programs. The only study you should be interested in is the study that you are participating in with a pass rate of 100% as your goal. 

If at First you Don’t succeed Try Try ….Something New ( Part 3 )

Written by Stuart Silverstein on Wednesday, 06 March 2013. Posted in failed pediatrics board exam, pediatrics board review, pediatric board certification review, Pediatric Maintenance of Certification

Of Course a Course?

Even if you are an auditory learner, attending a pediatric board review course is often not enough.  Live board review courses are primarily a good way to preview what you should be studying and/or serve as a review to reinforce the material you have already studied in board review books and questions. Even within a board review course one will find wide variation in the lectures. Some lecturers are very good at providing high yield pearls and focus their lecture on the board exam. Other lecturers just give their standard lecture on their area that includes clinical information and research that is not helpful to those of us who are only interested in passing the exam at this point in your career. 

Less is More

Often out of desperation, after failing the boards there is a tendency to buy every book written and attend every course you “ heard” was good.  It is better to focus in on a limited number or resources and really work with them than to surround yourself with a forest of books and material. 20% of the material out there will give you 80% of the results. Focus on the 20% that will work for you. There is nothing wrong with using the same resources as before or updated editions, as long as you take a new approach.

Pediatric Studying

Content Specifications

The American Academy of Pediatrics publishes the Content Specifications of topics you need to focus on in preparing for the pediatric board exam, which is similar to the content specifications for the Pediatric Maintenance of Certification/ Recertification exam published by the American Board of Pediatrics. It can be found here


Included in the content specifications are important images and illustrations you must be familiar with. Therefore you will need a good access and/or material that will help you distinguish between similar looking illustrations, tables and photos.


There is very little variation from year to year regarding the topics emphasized in the content specifications. The core material needed to pass the boards is fairly static.

Reinforce with Review

Remember to review the material you studied the previous study session. With each progressive week the sections you have reviewed more than 3 times will become less and less time consuming. At the end you will be studying the areas you were stronger in to begin with.

In fact each study session you should begin my answering board review questions from the material you studied the previous week to gauge how well you actually mastered the material and to identify any gaps.

Missed it by That Much

Of course most pediatricians who failed the exam tell us they failed by only a few points. In the past the curve has been set up so that everyone who fails the exam misses it by a small margin, which often comes down to 10-15 questions. We have heard that the grading system has changed somewhat and that instead of a curve, passing is based on answering a minimum number or percentage of questions correctly.  This will be the subject of a future blog.  In the meantime we still suspect that passing and failing will still come down to 10 -15 questions making the difference between passing and failing the boards.

We have outlined some important steps you can take that will help you answer the 10-15 that make the difference between failing and passing the boards successfully.

We have heard from some of you who are taking the exam again and wish to hear from more of you. This will enable us to help share, anonymously of course, the experience of others. This pooled information can further help repeat board takers finally get it done.

Finally, we know you may feel like this now:

You may feel like this

But once you outline a study schedule and strategy you should and need to feel like this:

You need to feel like this 


If at First You Don't Succeed Try...Something New (part 2)

Written by Stuart Silverstein on Friday, 15 February 2013. Posted in failed pediatrics board exam, pediatrics board review, pediatric board certification review

pediatric board review (night before)

Above image: Night before the board exam

The 7 Year Itch

In Part 1 of our blog for those taking the pediatric board exam for the 2nd or nth, we left off by noting the importance of a fresh start and a new approach. We have heard from many readers in other specialties since publishing Part 1, noting that we seem to be focusing on the pediatric board exam.  We want to point out that the same exact principles apply to the Neurology Board Exam as well as other medical specialty exams.

This becomes particularly important now that you must take the exam within 7 years of completing residency. That means you get 7 tries before being sent to the penalty box. The penalty box is having to complete another year of Internship.  Not to offend anyone who has had to do this[1], but this cannot be pleasant.

Know What you Know

When we are stressed the first thing we do is reach for comfort food, but the comfort is of course only temporary and empty of any nutritional value. Many of us after failing the boards feel empty and need validation and we reach for the equivalent of comfort food. That is we study the areas that we know well, to make ourselves feel good.  While this might help in the very short run, it should be done only to help you get back in the saddle

Part of doing something new must consist of studying and working on the areas you are weakest and sections you have done poorly on. The challenging part is working on areas that you are not only weak in but areas you find mind numbingly boring. For me, remembering and studying developmental milestones was particularly challenging. You must identify those areas for yourself. Start your road back to passing the pediatric boards (or any boards), with the material you are weak in and find most boring while your energy level is up and you are eager to get it right this time.

You might consider differentiating the material you know well from those you do not know well with a color-coded spreadsheet. For example material you know well can be highlighted in green, the material you know fairly well, but needs additional work can be yellow, and the material you find most boring and need to work on a lot can be highlighted in red. As you learn the material and become more comfortable with it, you move it to the yellow column and finally the green column. Once you have honestly moved all of the material to the green side, you can see visually that you are on your way to passing the pediatric board exam. As an aside, you may pick your own colors from the rainbow for your spreadsheet.

Know Your Own Way

An often-overlooked step is recognizing how you study best. Different approaches work for different people and you must determine what will work for you. You can begin by determining if you are primarily an auditory or visual learner. As a general rule, most of us are better visual learners.  If you are primarily a visual learner, and find that you get very little out of live lectures, why would you now consider attending a live board review course?  Your focus should remain visual learning through books, but focusing on different books than before.

If you are primarily an auditory learner, you don’t necessarily have to attend a live board review course. Another alternative might be dictating and playing back the file in your car, while you are working out at the gym, or even during sex if that works for you [2]

If have any artistic talent, drawing a picture to help remember the characteristics of a disorder might help, for example drawing a child on a motorcycle might help you remember the characteristics associated with Kawasaki Disease.

In the final section of this blog we will go through some of the pros and cons of courses and putting together a study plan and outline to better streamline your next attempt to pass the exam.

 pediatrics board exam prep

Above image: When you block out time to study, it's important to actually study 


[1] Feel free to contact us if you had. We would like to know what this process was like/ Clearly you are not the only one your experience can be helpful to others.

[2]  and the person you are having sex with assuming there is an actual partner involved


If at First you Don’t succeed Try….Something New (Part 1)

Written by Stuart Silverstein on Friday, 01 February 2013. Posted in failed pediatrics board exam, pediatrics board review, pediatric board certification review

If at First you Don’t succeed Try….Something New (Part 1)

The failure rate for those taking the General Pediatric Board Exam administered by the American Board of Pediatrics is surprisingly high. The overall failure rate is approximately 40%. However, this includes everyone taking the Pediatric Board exam, including those taking the exam for the first time and those taking it for the 2nd, 3rd and Nth time


Sadly, if you have taken the exam before, which would mean you failed at it at least once your chance of failing is higher. The failure rate is only ~25% for first time takers. Therefore, a large proportion of those taking the Pediatric Board Exam have failed it in the past.


I have a confession to make. I didn’t pass the pediatric certification exam the first time I took it either. But please don’t tell anyone, I would like to keep this a secret between myself, pediatric residents, pediatricians, and those who are following us here, here, and here. Shh let’s keep this between us only.


Misery enjoys Miserable Company

If you have taken the board exam before you know who you are… You are the ones going to the same pediatric board review courses and avoiding eye contact with each other. 


This is unfortunate since making contact and comparing notes would go a long way to avoiding making this into an annual ritual. Instead of attending another board review course it’s time to become a board certified pediatrician and attend one of those vacation pediatric conferences in the Caribbean.

Life in the Skinner Box Taking a New Approach

Do you remember those rats in the Skinner box you learned about in Psych 101 during your glorious college days? Those rats often understood something that even the brightest doctors sometimes miss: The rates learn that if pressing the same bar over and over gets you a tazer shot they need to try a new approach. Yet most pediatricians who get that tazer in the form of that failure notice from the American Board Of Pediatrics continue to take the same approach year after year thinking eventually it will work and they will get the “pediatric board certification“ pellet they desire. They attend the same pediatric board review courses, order the same pediatric board review DVD’s, access the same Board Review Questions and Answers, and the same editions of the Board Review Books that didn’t work for them. By no means am I telling you that those won’t help. However, it is the study method that must be tweaked.


It is unlikely that the pediatric board certification will suddenly appear unless you change your approach.  We will go through a systematic approach here for those of you who will be preparing for the boards a 2nd time. I once had to go through that process myself, but as I said that will be a secret between us.