How to Survive Your First CREOG as an OB/GYN Intern

November 27, 2023
Yay! You’re officially an OB/GYN resident! You aced Step 1. You crushed Step 2. Now that you’re finally in residency, that means no more tests ever again, right?
Well… not exactly. Every year in January, all OB/GYN residents take the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) in-service examination. Your residency program will excuse you from clinical duties for a portion of the day so you can take the exam to assess your clinical knowledge.
So, what should you expect during your first time taking the CREOG, and how do you prepare while also balancing your clinical duties? Here are a few tips on CREOG prep and test-taking that I’ve learned throughout my own OB/GYN residency.

All About the CREOG: What to Know

First, let’s tackle why you take the CREOG in the first place. This exam is meant to be a practice run for the written board examination that you’ll take shortly after graduation. While a few fellowships and academic jobs will ask for your third-year CREOG score, as an intern, it’s mainly a way to gauge your progress rather than a formative assessment. 

This is a full-day exam consisting of five 60-minute blocks. There are 300 total questions on the exam (60 questions per block) with suggested 10-minute breaks between blocks (and a suggested 60-minute break after the third block). Because these are “suggested” breaks, you can take and skip them at your own pace.

We’ll tackle strategies for taking the exam later in this post—but first, let’s dive into how to prepare!

5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Your First CREOG

1. Don’t panic!

You’ve already matched into residency and are working hard to improve your skills as a clinician. As an intern, that should be your focus. While the CREOG examination is important, it’s more important to learn how to survive intern year.

We’re going to talk about developing a study plan and using the right resources to prepare, but if you’re so overwhelmed by your intern year that you can’t even think about studying for an exam, that’s okay! You’ll take the CREOG exam every year and even if intern year isn’t your best performance, you’ll be able to use it as a benchmark to improve upon once you’ve adjusted to life as a resident a bit more.

2. Make a study plan.

In my mind, creating a study schedule is the key to success for any examination, including CREOGs. Maybe I’m just weird, but I actually find making a study plan quite fun!

Take an hour or two of dedicated time in July or August to decide what your study plan is going to be. Write it down, because if your plan is just “do an hour of reading every night,” that’s going to be really hard to stick to.

Make sure your plan has a lot of flexibility, since life as an OB/GYN intern can be unpredictable. Instead of a daily schedule, choose a weekly schedule where you study for 3-4 days every week. That way, if you have a particularly tough day at work, you can just relax at home instead of feeling like you have to study.

3. Go low and slow.

Just like the setting on your crockpot that allows you to have a delicious meal waiting when you get home from a shift on labor and delivery (L&D), “low and slow” is the best way to study for the CREOG exam.

Cramming may have been an effective strategy in college or medical school, but the breadth of information included in the CREOG exam can’t be learned in a weekend. Doing a few hours every week for several months is much more effective than studying for 10 hours straight. Keep this in mind when you’re making your study schedule (which you’ll see an example of below). Your study plan should include practice questions, textbook chapters, podcasts, practice bulletins, educational videos, and anything else that helps you learn.

4. Questions, Questions, Questions!

You probably have a pretty good idea by now which strategies work for you when it comes to studying, but there’s no better way to study for the CREOG exam than by doing practice questions. This will train your mind on which details to look for in a question, which distractors to eliminate, and how to make an educated guess when you’re stumped.

Rosh Review has thousands of board-style questions written by educational experts who have taken CREOGs and know exactly which types of practice questions will prepare you for the test. Test your knowledge with the top CREOG practice questions, straight from Rosh Review’s CREOG Qbank!

5. Use the between times!

Life as an OB/GYN resident can be hectic. Sometimes, you’ll walk into work at 6 a.m. and go nonstop until you leave that night. It’s busy, but that’s what we love about our job!

However, there will often be down time on L&D or between surgeries. This is a good opportunity to pull out your phone and use the Rosh Review app to do practice questions (see below!):

It’s also helpful to study clinical topics that you’ve seen recently. For example, if you had a patient who experienced a postpartum hemorrhage, it might be a good idea to read that practice bulletin later.

The CREOGs Over Coffee podcast is also an excellent resource if you want a brief overview of a topic while you’re driving to work or walking your dog!

Here’s an actual example of a week in my study plan:

Day 1: Preterm Birth PB, “CREOGs over Coffee: Ectopic Pregnancy,” 20 Rosh Review questions

Day 2: Obesity in Pregnancy PB, “CREOGs over Coffee: Thalassemia,” 20 Rosh Review questions

Day 3: Fibroids PB, “CREOGs over Coffee: Primary Ovarian Insufficiency,” 20 Rosh Review questions

Day 4: Medication abortion PB, “CREOGs over Coffee: Dermatoses of Pregnancy,” 20 Rosh Review questions

5 Tips for Taking Your First CREOG 

After following your carefully laid out study plan, eventually you arrive at test day! Remember, if you didn’t get to follow every aspect of your study plan, you’ve still had enough clinical experience that you’ll be okay. Don’t worry about studying the day before the test—it’s just going to stress you out more and you know what you know!

Regardless, here are a few quick tips that might help you out on test day:

1. It’s okay if you don’t know!

There will be some oncology and urogynecology questions that are completely unfamiliar to you as an intern. Just make a guess and move on!

2. Use your breaks.

You’ll get some breaks between sections and a lunch break during your exam. Use these breaks to the fullest! It doesn’t benefit you to zoom through it, so use the break times to use the restroom, eat a snack, get a drink of water, and do some deep breathing. 

3. Try not to spend too much time on one question.

This shouldn’t be a test where you feel pressed for time, but if you find yourself spending a lot of time on a specific question, choose an answer, flag the question, and return to it later if you have time. 

4. The process of elimination is your friend.

Even if you aren’t sure of the answer, you can always improve your odds by eliminating a few distractors you’re certain aren’t correct.

5. Trust your gut!

You’re more likely to change a right answer to a wrong one than the reverse, so if your gut instantly tells you what the right answer should be, pick it and move on.

Further Reading

Follow these tips and you should do well. Remember to make a study plan so you can avoid cramming! Pace yourself, do lots of practice questions, and make good use of your spare time. And follow these strategies on exam day so you get the best possible score. Good luck on taking your first CREOG!

For more (free!) content for OB/GYN residents, check out these other posts on the Rosh Review blog:

By Zachary Schoppen, MD

Categories: OB/GYN ,

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