How I Prepared for the ABIM Exam: An Exam Prep Story, ABIM Exam Tips

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How I Prepared for the ABIM exam An ABIM exam story - ABIM exam tips

How I Prepared for the ABIM Exam: An Exam Prep Story

ABIM exam preparation tips from a recent ABIM exam taker.

If you are reading this, you are likely preparing to take the ABIM exam for American Board of Internal Medicine certification.  Today's "how I prepared for the ABIM exam" story comes from ABIM exam taker, J. E. Bailey, MD, FACP.  

My Experience with the ABIM Exam

I just took the American Board of Internal Medicine exam a few days ago after multiple attempts in the past.  The ABIM exam was not a requirement when I first finished my internship and residency many years ago.  In fact, it was optional. Within a short time it did become a requirement, but by that time I was involved in my specialty of kidney disease. I definitely needed to freshen up my knowledge of general internal medicine!

Therefore, when it was known that the ABIM exam was required to obtain future jobs in the field of medicine, I was already behind.  Nevertheless, I tried for years to make up the deficit, typing numerous notes and keeping several notebooks on the various systems of the body. 

I spent loads of money over the years, going as far away as Florida and Massachusetts, as well as locally near Riverside etc., taking live review courses, none of which helped make any difference in my body of knowledge. I also sat through review courses over the internet, but I found it difficult to retain the information.

When it came to my understanding that I might not continue to work as a physician and therefore lose my source of income, I knew that something had to be done!!! I resolved to try to learn what was expected of me to know in order to pass the ABIM exam. The internet remained my main source, so I continued my search there.

There were several good ABIM question banks online and I sampled as many as I could, like Med-Challenger.  I also came across lectures by Paul Bolin who was preparing new physicians for the USMLE test. I found these lectures extremely useful and helpful. I recommend them to anyone who needs the information. There were also lectures for nurses, which were helpful because things were explained on an easy level, which I most certainly needed. 

Ultimately, using these online sources, I put down on index cards what I thought was the needed information for the exam, and I put the cards in alphabetical order.  I regrouped some of them according to relevance in the particular system, then typed a summary page of each (Cardiology, Pulmonology, Infectious Disease, Nephrology, Hematology, Oncology, Rheumatology, Neurology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, and General Internal Medicine) so that it would be quick and easy to review and to remember. The online Q&A resources were great way to test my knowledge and tell me what I needed to focus on, but the process of writing down my own summaries of the information on paper provided the most impact for me.  

The process of writing down my own summaries of the information on paper provided the most impact for me.

J. E. Bailey, MD, FACP

I do not yet know if I passed the ABIM exam, but I do know that, thanks to the online resources and the index card study technique that I used, I was certainly familiar with all of the questions asked!  

- J. E. Bailey, MD, FACP

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Med-Challenger is seeking "exam stories" from physicians, nurses, physician assistants as a way to help share insights into the best way to prepare for the most current medical certification exams. If you've recently taken a specialized medical certification exam, we'll pay you for your tip-rich exam story. See details here.

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