Back To School Picks and Study Tips

17 August 2019

Hi everyone,

I just finished my 8 hr ABIM internal medicine board exam. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally focus my spare time on Rheumatology and getting back to my health & family. I thought I would share some great back-to-school items, including pieces that helped me prepare for the exam! So without further ado, let's dive in!

1. Make a schedule, and start EARLY. For medical board exams it's smart to get prepared 6 months in advance, but the hard core prep really begins 3 months out. I always find it difficult to remember what I learned 6 months ago, so I spend the first three months just familiarizing myself with the content and putting myself in a no-pressure environment to just read material.

I've been using the Happy Planner for over a year and I'm still in love with it. It allows for great organization of your day, documenting memories, and an outlet for creativity. When life is crazy, it helps me unwind. I picked up my planner and stickers from Michaels.

2. After you make your schedule, start hitting the books! There's no way around it. If it's on the to-do list, then you need to commit. I enjoyed doing practice questions and annotating. I try to take notes by hand when possible, because it has been linked with better memory consolidation. I then use these notes to review closer to the exam day. Your notes should become more and more summarized as the exam gets closer.
Favorites: dotted grid notebooks, moleskine notebooks (best paper), midliners,  and pens with a small tip (0.35).

3. Be kind to your body and make things ergonomic. My neck hurts ALL THE TIME when I study! I am always looking down at my books, notes or the laptop. A book stand helps quite a bit, and my next investment is a laptop stand plus a wireless mouse and keyboard. This is one thing I wish I did during this exam. I am still recouperating from wrist overuse on my laptop.

4. Study triggers - mine is always a candle. This has been my thing since medical school! I've been trying to transition to soy candles since I heard they were safer (don't quote me on this). Natura makes lovely ones! I've tried background sounds this year and found it quite helpful!
5. Do as many practice questions as you can the 8 weeks leading up to the exam. Repeat all your wrong ones, and quiz yourself on the items you get wrong consistently. I bought myself a white board this year so I could re-write all the oncology treatments, and random infectious disease bugs that refused to stick in my brain. It was super helpful!

6. Carry your goodies in a backpack - one that is slick but compartmentalized as well. I love my Kipling, but it was too bulky to bring to work every day. I have since bought a slim black knapsack that's professional and very organized inside. Be a nerd, but make it FASHUUNN. Also, it saved by shoulders from slinging all that weight over one side of my body. 

Good luck with the new school year everyone! You got this!


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