Top Tips for Dissecting Board-Style Exam Questions

Being able to memorize and learn content for step studying is extremely important. However, it’s more critical to be able to apply that knowledge. In this blog post, I will share some of my top tips for dissecting and analyzing test questions to make sure you are maximizing the number of question you get correct!

Don’t skim the question

I highly don’t recommend skimming questions. When you do, you’re more prone to look for buzzwords. While you can sometimes get questions right by finding buzzwords, it’s good to not get in the habit of doing that.

Read the last sentence first.

Do you ever read the long question stem and then get to the end, and realized they were asking for something you didn’t pay that much attention to? This happens to me all the time. That’s why I always read the last sentence first so that I read the question stemmed knowing what I’m looking for and what I should focus on.

Read every single sentence

Know that every sentence has a purpose – whether it;s to rule in or out a disease.

Rephrase the question in your own wording.

Sometimes the question is complicatedly written or contains multiple double negatives such as “Which of the following drugs is NOT would be non-responsive to the cancer?” Rephrase this to “Which drug is responsive to the cancer?”

Turn complicated phrases into simple ones.

Strategies to use when answering questions

1. Come up with what you think the answer should be without looking at the answers.

2. Read all of the answers before jumping into picking one.

3. When asked about your “first steps”, you will (generally) never pick an invasive treatment. Always lean towards less costly and invasive treatment first. For instance, your first step in working up a pulmonary embolism will not be a CT angio.

4. When between two answers, go with that “gut feeling” and don’t change your answer unless you have a SOLID explanation for changing it!

These are some of my proven strategies for doing well on board exams.

Hope that was helpful!

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