(Barré) #1

When you work in the emergency department, knowledge and experience are
your friends. The greater your experience with and understanding of a given
complaint, the faster you will be able to help your patient. And while it may
seem that the amount of information that could be included on an emergency
medicine certification exam is unlimited, it is not. Like most of the exams you
have taken in the past, this one tests a finite body of knowledge. The material
on the exam is readily identifiable and studying can greatly improve your com-
petency with it. In short, you canmaster the content of this exam. What’s more,
preparing for the exam should make you a more confident and capable emer-
gency physician. You are no longer simply studying for an organic chemistry
test; you are preparing for a career as an emergency physician.

How much time you allow for test preparation will depend on your interest in
the formal study of the material and how likely you are to pass the exam with
minimal preparation. If you consistently score above 85% on in-service or
practice examinations and are currently practicing emergency medicine and
reading regularly, you probably won’t need to study too much. Most people,
however, need 2 to 3 months to study for the exam. Giving yourself adequate
time makes the experience richer and more enjoyable, and enables you to inte-
grate your clinical experience with what you are studying. We recommend
that you read this book in its entirety at least two months before the exam
date. Use this initial read to identify the gaps in your knowledge and facts that
you want to memorize. Use practice test questions, such as those found in
PEER VII, to improve your test-taking skills, to further identify knowledge
gaps, and to add to your list of facts to memorize. Two weeks before the test,
review the book again, focusing on areas of weakness. Avoid trying to cover
new ground, and instead spend your time reviewing core knowledge and
memorizing your list of facts.


Knowing the right answers is the most obvious way to pass the test, but
studying is not the only way to prepare. Knowing how to take a multiple choice
test can also help. There are five key components.

First, anticipate the answer as you read the question. With most questions,
you should already have an answer in mind before you look at the choices.
For example, a question might describe a young lady who presents with odd
neurologic complaints. She is not obviously sick, and she reports that she had
a different neurologic problem two months ago. Just as when you listen to real
patients describe their symptoms, a differential should form in your mind. At
the top of the list for the test patient should be multiple sclerosis. If you are
confident in your answer, you can avoid wasting the time it takes to carefully
consider the merits of each answer choice. Instead, you can scan for the one
you know is right, check the alternatives to make sure they don’t compete
with your anticipated answer, and move on.


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