Family Medicine Boards Survival Guide: How To Best Prepare for FM Boards

Nancy M. Anderson, MBA, MSFamily Medicine, Family Medicine Comparisons, Personal Education

how to prepare for family medicine boards

How to Study for Family Medicine Boards


It’s time for ABFM exam preparation, and you’re wondering where to begin … Let us help you with that! This fast and dirty family medicine study guide is full of tips, tricks, and valuable insight into the art of family medicine exam prep and the inner-workings of the exam itself. After all, this is the only thing standing between you and your new career.

While grasping the full magnitude of this implication may be overwhelming at first, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. There are many resources available to guide you towards success. You can do this!

how to study for family medicine boards

1. Understand the Structure of the Exam

Step one: Know what material is going to be covered in the exam. The ABFM exam blueprint details what material is represented on the examination, and in what proportions of the exam. Keep this in mind going forward to better focus and guide your study sessions.

Modular26%
Respiratory10%
Cardiovascular9%
Musculoskeletal9%
Non-specific7%
Endocrine6%
Gastrointestinal5%
Integumentary5%
Psychogenic5%
Reproductive – Female3%
Population-based Care3%
Patient-based Symptoms3%
Hematologic/Immune2%
Nephrologic2%
Neurologic2%
Special Sensory2%
Reproductive – Male1%
TOTAL100%

2. Know What to Expect on Exam Day

It’ll do you good to familiarize yourself with the exam day schedule ahead of time. Knowing what to expect & when to expect it helps ease anxiety and ultimately perform better.

Exam SectionDurationQuestion Count / Type
Introduction / Instructions45 minutes
Section 1100 minutes80 multiple-choice questions
Optional 1st Break15 minutes
Section 2100 minutes80 multiple-choice questions:
40 questions on selected module/
40 questions across family medicine
Section 345 minutesSecond Elective Topic Module:
45 multiple-choice questions
Optional 2nd Break70 minutes
Section 4100 minutes80 multiple-choice questions
Optional 3rd Break15 minutes
Section 5100 minutes80 multiple-choice questions

3. Plan Out a Study Strategy

Take the time to assess the content you need to cover, and portion it out into manageable increments. Once you’ve grasped the breadth of the material, schedule times throughout your day dedicated solely to the topics and sections you’ve chosen to focus on. Setting a strict schedule and mapping out a plan of attack from the get-go will not only help you manage time and stress, it also ensures that you cover all relevant material.

Pro Tip:
10-14 hours per week of study time for three or more months is highly recommended.

4. Find a Study Guide

Feedback from successful examinees suggests that seminars are not very useful. Instead, we reccomend you choose a board review course that challenges you and requires your active participation.

Things to keep in mind when choosing an FM board review course: As far as board review questions and practice exams go, consider quality as well as the quantity. Look for thorough, detailed, case-based questions that require involved study and active reading. This is the kind of quality content you’re most likely to retain long-term.

Look for lasting value. Once certified, you’ll have annual MOC and CME requirements to fulfill. The ability to earn continuing medical education credits while working through a review product is one of the main added values to pass-guaranteed board reviews.

Med-Challenger is a leader in online medical education, offering the best family medicine board review. Boasting over 3,000 detailed, challenging case-based questions following the ABFM exam blueprint, built-in CME & MOC resources, and a 100% pass guarantee, you can’t go wrong.

5. Practice & Re-Practice

Never expect to get by knowing only the bare minimum. Simply working your way through all content relevant to the ABFM Exam Blueprint will not be enough. In times of stress, you don’t rise to the occasion – you fall to your highest level of preparation. Go back – do it again. The goal is to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Identifying your knowledge gaps early in the process frees up time for the actual study and review.

6. Pinpoint Weak Areas

Once you’ve worked your way through the entirety of your study material several times and familiarized yourself with what areas you are and are not confident in, it’s time to focus on the relevant material with which you are least comfortable and familiar.

Consider leaning on an adaptive assessment / prescriptive learning platform. With adaptive learning, not only are you assured to properly utilize all materials available, your time is spent exactly where it needs to be spent with every use, thereby producing a more effective individual review, with no wasted value, all in less time.

And remember: Always keep the ABFM Exam Blueprint in mind!

7. Treat Your Body Right

Preparing for Family Medicine boards will push you to your limits – you will be stressed, burnt out, and oftentimes exhausted. But like they say: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. In the long run, it won’t do you any good to sacrifice your physical and mental well-being.

At least every 3 hours, allow yourself a break to relax and unwind. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Remember to eat and nourish your body with healthy meal options. Exercise will help maintain healthy circulation and oxygenation to your brain. Take some time to meditate. And perhaps most importantly, maintain a healthy sleep schedule, especially the week before your exam

8. During the Exam

The ABFM board uses multiple-choice questions that have one best answer. These items have a “stem” that presents the background information necessary for answering the question, which usually comes at the end of the stem. Be sure to read the stem carefully. As you proceed, make note of information that seems especially relevant. Read every answer option carefully. First use the process of elimination to filter out what you know is incorrect, and go from there.

Manage your time. If you are completely stumped by a question or unsure you answered correctly, flag it and come back later. That having been said, also consider that the first thoughtful answer an examinee makes is usually the best answer. Second-guessing yourself is not likely to help your performance unless you fully realize that you’ve misread or misunderstood the question.

In Conclusion …


We understand the pressure you’re surely experiencing knowing the fate of your future career rests on a comprehensive understanding of challenging exam material and peak test performance. Here’s the bottom line: You need to ace this exam, & we at Med-Challenger can make that happen. Our Family Medicine Board Review Course has everything you need to practice the various test scenarios you will face during your exam. Begin your full free trial today!


Med-Challenger leads the way.

Med-Challenger, Online Board Review, Confused Doctor, Family Medicine Board Review, FM Board Review

100% Pass Guaranteed

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