6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Exam

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Exam

Posted by Stu Silverstein, MD, FAAP on Sep 17th 2021


6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

If you are not familiar with taking an exam at a Prometric ® Center or even if you are, there are some important things to keep in mind. These may seem obvious but heeding my advice can go a long way to avoiding pitfalls that can make logistics a challenge. The exam is challenging enough without the added burden of physical discomfort and careless errors. Here is an action plan to avoid this from happening.

I went through this process a couple of years ago and wished I had been advised on some of the not so obvious steps in preparing for the final approach. My experience and advice is as follows:

Finding the Prometric Center ®!

When they say allow a lot of time to find the Prometric Center® it is for good reason. The test center was located in an unmarked building in an industrial park. The GPS on WAZE® kept informing me that I had arrived at my location, which was an intersection between 2 dump trucks and an axe throwing bar. They were impossible to distinguish from each other.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

Image source: twobuttonsdeep.com

When you finally arrive you are given a locker and informed that you have to empty your pockets in the locker. You can of course access your locker during breaks.

Remember the Meds

Remember to bring ibuprofen with you in case you get a headache. I sure wish I had. If you take other medication remember to take that with you as well.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

Click Clack Prometric ® Symphony

When you finally sit for the exam, you are in a room full of cubicles and while it is theoretically quiet, those who are easily distracted by a symphony of gum smacking and keystroke click clack, in B Minor you will need to find a way to filter out the noise.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you fit that description definitely bring earplugs. While they DO provide you with over the ear headphones, they are the kind that seems to have been made in the 1970’s. The ones they provide have plastic edges that leave permanent scars behind your ears. They did filter out some noise if you don’t mind the painful distraction of the hard edges cutting grooves into your outer ear.

I wish I had brought a pair of those soft orange ear plugs but I didn’t have someone to advice me on how to approach the exam. If it is allowed you might consider noise cancelling Airpod ® or other headphones to filter out background noise.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

I suggest you bring light clothing with a zip up sweatshirt. You never know if it will be too hot or too cold there.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

Calculating Your Time for Each Section

You won’t need a calculator because there is an on screen calculator there for you to summon up during the exam.

Laying it all out, the exam is set up as follows:

You have to answer 2 sets of questions with 100 questions in each set. You have around 2 hours to answer each set and once you close out 1 set you cannot go back to it.

During each question set you are given a warning when you have an hour remaining and 30 minutes remaining.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

Hold and Release that Button

In addition, there is a hold button for questions you are not sure of. I suggest that you answer all the questions you are sure of first and place the ones you are not sure of on hold to come back later to. You need to make sure you release the hold button when you come back to answer the question!

I made the mistake of not realizing this. I went back and entered answers to these questions and thought I was done. However, when I looked at the main menu the questions were still listed as incomplete. Fortunately, I had time to spare.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

Review Once and Let it Go ~

After I finished the first question set and reviewed my questions, I still had over a half hour left. It is tempting to use that time rather than move on to the next set. However, this is a test of stamina as much as it is a test of knowledge. Most of us have not taken standardized exams in years and are not used to this.

I viewed myself as being on borrowed time regarding attention span, so I closed out this set, took a break and went onto the next set.

At that point I wished somebody had suggested I take along a light snack as I am suggesting you do. At that point I realized that I was also on borrowed time regarding my blood sugar levels dropping.

6 Ways to Ease the Day of the Pediatric Board Certification Exam

TL;DR:

After the exam they informed me that my phone rang during the exam with various sounds and ringtones indicating I had texts coming in. In reality they could have told me this when I went for a bathroom break. But I was very relieved that I was done with the exam and immediately changed my ringtone to Alice Cooper’s “School’s out for Summer”.. at least I was done with this exam for the summer.

  • Get there early to make sure you can find the Promteric® center
  • Bring ibuprofen and any medication you might need with you.
  • Let folks know you will not be responding to phone calls or text messages since all your belongings will be placed in a locker (sort of like going to prison except they let you keep your belt and shoes)
  • Bring earplugs
  • The computer has a calculator
  • Answer all the questions you know first and hold the ones you are unsure of for later and come back to them.
  • Unhold questions that were held after you answer them.
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