15 Useful Tips to Ace Your ABEM Initial Certification Exam

October 5, 2018
With the Initial Certification Exam around the corner, here are a few useful tips that may come in handy.

  • The hardest part of this exam is being able to answer the questions based on the “standard” rather than what you do in “your shop.”  Don’t overthink it.
  • Remember, there are no tricks. The woman who steps off a plane from China with unilateral leg swelling, a cough, and syncope…has a PE, not influenza or some other zebra.
  • Go with your instincts on questions you are unsure of. Don’t talk yourself out of the answer your gut wants you to choose.
  • Pack the night before. Make sure you have your ID (e.g., driver’s license). Lay out comfortable clothes. Bring something warm (e.g., light sweatshirt) in case the room gets cold.
  • Double-check your exam location and time. Plug it into a map service such as Google Maps. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time.
  • Familiarize yourself with the testing interface. This is the demo test provided by Pearson.
  • Pack a lunch and eat it during your break. Keep it “lean,” you’ll have time to eat more after the exam. Stick with fats and proteins (e.g., hard-boiled eggs). And water.
  • Go to bed early (read some fiction to keep your mind off the exam).
  • Wake up early (to avoid rushing) and drink a large glass (20+ oz) of water with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Get your heart rate up for 30 seconds (20 push-ups/burpees, brisk walk around the block, stretching/yoga).
  • Eat a breakfast composed of fats and proteins (e.g., eggs, bacon, avocado). Avoid carbohydrates and sugars, if possible.
  • Use the bathroom before you start the exam.
  • Once the exam starts, you are on the clock. So, before you click start, take a deep breath (or a few), and bring yourself into focus.
  • Answer every question, don’t leave any questions blank.

We also composed a Mock ABEM Initial Certification that is now available in your Dashboard Boost Box (desktop/laptop only). While we believe the 4,500+ questions in your Qbank are more than adequate to prepare you for the Initial Certification Exam, there are some people who ask for even more content…so we provide it.

Mock ABEM Initial Certification

Also, it is helpful to be familiar with the format of the ABEM Initial Certification Exam

  • There are 305 single-best-answer, standard multiple-choice questions
  • Each question is in paragraph form with an answer set containing one correct answer and three or four incorrect answers
  • There are two blocks each lasting 3 hours and 10 minutes
  • There is a one-hour scheduled break between blocks
  • The entire exam appointment takes approximately 8 hours to complete with 6 hours and 20 minutes of total testing time

Another helpful study tool is to review the article How to Increase Your Emergency Medicine ABEM Initial Certification Exam score by 10 points.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

You are an emergency physician…you got this.

The Rosh Review team

Rosh Review is not sponsored or endorsed by, or affiliated with, the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM). All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

By Adam Rosh

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