Tag Archive for: board prep

Studying Tips Broken Down: Set yourself up for success!

Time to get back to studying… wow… it seems like just yesterday the summer was just kicking off!

Now it’s time to head back to school, so naturally, we’ve received some DMs asking “How can I make the most of the upcoming school year?”.

Going back to school can seem like an overwhelming time and it can be, but we’ve put together a few studying tips that should help you excel in your learning.

Our Top Five Tips!

1️⃣ Get Organized…

Get all your study materials together, ensure you know your new schedule, and plan your time properly. Take a look at each class; What do you need? What do you already have?

2️⃣ Be Active In Your Learning.

Don’t just follow your current curriculum. Seek out other experiences and knowledge whether you’re in a group studying, participating in volunteer labs/programs/research groups, and much more. You can gain more knowledge and experience this way!

3️⃣ Study, Study, Study — but with others!

Studying with others can improve your memory recall, provide other points of view, and give you a great trusted group whom you can make memories with outside of just staying. Since you’re all going through the same experiences together it can help ease the stress. You could even utilize various question banks and tools to make the most of the study sessions!

4️⃣ Use Your Time Wisely

Just because others are going out every night doesn’t mean you need to… you can still have a solid social life AND go to school. Write down and prioritize everything you need to do. Ensure you have built a solid routine, and get what you need to do, but also make sure you are taking time to have fun too (which brings us to our next section.)

5️⃣ Take Care Of Your Mental Health!!!

This is last but certainly NOT least. We’ve said it before and we will keep saying it. Take care of yourself and your mental health. You need to ensure you aren’t pushing yourself too far. Find things and activities which help you relax. School is not forever so take everything one step at a time. Use your support group/study group we mentioned in point 3.

Need some additional tips or a tutor? Contact us today!

Who is My Psych Board?

My Psych Board is a board review website created by Dr. Abdel, MD, MBB. CH., founder and CEO of Westlake Brain Health clinic in Cleveland, OH. This program offers access to unique courses and question banks to prepare residents and medical students for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) Psychiatry Certification Exam, Psychiatry Resident In-Training Examination, United States Medical Licensing board examination, and Nurse Practitioner examination. Each question bank is specifically tailored to the required difficulty and type of questions expected for the different board exams. New questions are continually being added to the question banks, ensuring the most current and up-to-date information is being made available.

My Psych Board is created by experts in the field and covers all the topics you need to master in order to pass your board-certifying exams. Feedback is given immediately in Practice Mode as questions are answered, including in-depth explanations that accompany each question for both correct and incorrect answer options. Additionally, students have the option of accessing a one-time phone call with Dr. Abdel to discuss their best studying strategies and one-on-one tutoring to help them gain maximum preparation. My Psych Board is customer oriented; we take your feedback seriously and are always looking for ways to improve the user experience! 

Failed Your Psychiatric Board Exams? What should you do now?

Failed Your Psychiatric Board Exams? What should you do now?

So let’s say you’ve taken round one and failed… what now?⁠

Firstly, it’s ok! You’re human, breathe. Take a break and avoid freaking out. Take a moment to step away and have some much-needed “you time”. You’ll want to clear your head and get a new perspective, if you need a week or more…take it!

Now that you’ve taken time for yourself, it’s time to jump back in. Create a realistic timeline and schedule that will work for you. Cover the big areas and focus on where you were unsure.⁠

Don’t be afraid to change your studying routine. Ask yourself — Are there issues with your previous method? Do you have all the right/up-to-date resources? Are you staying away from distractions?⁠

Finally, when you’re going back in keep it focused on the questions and stay out of your head. We know it’s easier said than done but everyone goes through ups and downs. Check out our post on what to do differently when retaking the boards for more inspiration!

You may learn something from this experience!

Did you know we offer a FREE trial for our question banks? Just head over to our website (exams.mypsychboard.com) to get started today risk-free (with no Credit Card required!)

Feeling like you need a bit of extra help?

Contact us OR sign up for our tutoring!

Study Styles

#Studystyle. Here is looking at you, yes you with the impending standardized exam.

How the heck should I study? As a senior psychiatry resident, recent graduate or even junior resident, this is a question that may cross your mind when the term ABPN initial certification is mentioned.  But as someone who has taken my fair share of medically geared standardized tests- i.e. MCAT, USMLE, PRITE, as well as too many medical school exams to count, teaching for the Princeton review, teaching gymnastics, and the occasional residency didactic topic, the best method to study and retain information may not come into focus until one takes a step back to do some self-assessment.  Sometimes you (meaning me) even forget what got you over that what once seemingly insurmountable conglomerate of material until a new challenge presents itself.  It is only then can one get refreshed insight on how to approach the material before you, by looking at what worked and did not work before.

I’m a firm believer that the more you hear or see something, the more you retain it.  I don’t hesitate to review and re-review the basics.  This is true whether you are an athlete preparing for a big event or a chief resident reviewing the DSM V for diagnostic criteria for Major depressive disorder with psychotic features vs schizoaffective disorder. The foundations allow us to build and retain our skills and knowledge, and yes they can sometimes be more palatable to review. With that I must remind myself of what my old gymnastics coach used to say every time I wanted to practice balance beam instead of bars, “To be great, one must practice what they hate not what they love.” So I would begrudgingly trade my beam shoes for my hand grips and chalk up. A medical school or USMLE equivalent could be me tucking away neuroanatomy and forcibly pulling out lung volumes.  A PRITE example could be me tip toeing to get to biostats once all my other studying is done, But I digress.

I would argue you need to make time for that which comes easier, and that which you might just slightly avoid. One way I like to go about this is what I call mixing it up. I am also a believer in learning via multiple pathways and methods.  I have always found, when the brain processes data from multiple sources, the more likely you are to retain this material. Now I realize we all have our personal preferences and we do not all learn the same way.  For example, some of us like to read, while others may like to listen. Some of us never showed up to lectures, and some were front and center. However, I’ve found the material I have retained the greatest, or exams I have done the best on, I was using several of my available senses. This included, reading, watching lectures online on core material, listening to recordings at the gym or while traveling throughout the day, and rewriting key material. The more pathways I used, the better I retained and understood the material. I find this to be key in studying for standardized exams, where the amount of material can seem insurmountable. We will get to this, but this can also come in handy when you are having an off day, a too busy to do much day, a I am over this day.

We all get overwhelmed, me included. The vast amount of material for anything before us can seem daunting and overwhelming. This is when I like to take a deep breath, take a step back and write out a plan. Most importantly, this plan must be unique to you and both your long-term and short-term study goals, and how you will accomplish them. Remember to be kind but firm with yourself.  Offer motivational tips and rewards while holding yourself accountable to some sort of framework.

Break it up and use your senses.

Try and study in small, consistent blocks of time and take advantage of hands-on learning.  Learning while providing patient care (reading up, reviewing their diagnoses, meds) can go a long way when it comes time to study and sit for a big exam. Just like an athlete who keeps the foundation fresh and well maintained, when time to throw the bigger skill those foundations will allow an easier transition.  

Break the material/subject down into systems using several sources of information stimulating different ways of learning. Some examples of systems are reading review, videos, questions. 

How I approach each topic, no matter if medical school, USMLE, PRITE, or psychiatry board review:

  • Core material/ foundation and concepts-does not matter if I already know it or think I know it. I start here
  • Case study-reviewing sample cases and how they present with review of material. That helps with retention and “real world,” understanding. It Is often how tests present material.
  • Esoteric details-Put off sometimes until the core and concepts are re-reviewed
  • Question banks-for understanding; then for simulated test taking via a buildup (start with 5 questions at a time, to ten, to 20 etc)

This brings us to the topic of question banks. A question bank serves several different purposes, again taking what I say with a grain of salt in case that is not your style. Here goes, I initially use question banks for learning the raw material. I don’t time myself and I’m not trying to do a full block, and I’m definitely not worried about timing myself. I take my time, use tutor mode and read everything; I mean EVERYTHING thoroughly. Things I got wrong and things I got right. Test bank explanations can be a gold mine of information for the questions I’m both sure and unsure of. This knowledge is important and allows you to brush up on topics you thought you knew once upon a time, and gives you a feel for the level of material and depth you should know for that exam. Once I personally feel “ready” and comfortable, (although full disclosure I have never been one to feel fully ready for any test), then I start to incorporate the questions slowly into timed and simulated experiences.

As a firm believer of understanding the material from the ground up, I don’t ever recommend going into a standardized examination without using a question bank. There are however people that do just fine using question banks purely as simulated examination situations and to get a feel for the test and types of questions you will see. This is of course fine, as that is a vital part of preparation, but for me, question banks can be used in different ways as described above, depending upon your personality and comfort with learning styles.

Good luck as you start your preparation. You got this! Remember, it is easy to get discouraged or feel like the massive mountain of study material before you can be insurmountable, but remind yourself that even small study sessions will take you one step closer to your goal, and things that you are remote and you think you forgot often come back easier the next time you review them.  P.S. I speak from experience 😉

– Dr. J