Preparing for the Fall 2021 CV Board Exam: 6 Ways to Map Your Strategy

By Suzanne Hughes, MSN, RN  |  October 1, 2020  |  Methods of Learning

Did you opt to postpone sitting for the ABIM CVB exam until October 2021?

No matter what factors contributed to your decision, you now have the luxury (or perhaps better to view it as the power) to approach your exam preparation as more of a marathon than a sprint. That’s good news, right? On the downside, procrastination is a trap many of us fall into, especially when the enormity of the task (studying for the exam) appears daunting, and the risk associated with failure is high-stakes stressful…

A few mantras to consider, ironically, the first two are associated with (eek) eating animals!

In order of size…

(1) Eating the elephant…a bite at a time. The journey begins with one step, right? The important thing is to roll up your sleeves and get started. Map out a plan to devote regular pockets of time to your exam prep. More on how best to distribute your time appropriately by topic areas below.

Eating an Elephant

(2) Eat the Frog (First)! This quote attributed to Mark Twain “…if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning.” Many productivity experts live by this one, and now some fitness clubs do too! If electrophysiology or congenital heart disease as a topic intimidates you, consider tackling it first, and getting that demon frog behind you.

Eat the frog first

(3) What Kind of Learner Are YOU? Auditory? Visual? Kinesthetic?
Take this simple quiz to help identify what works best for you to learn and retain information. Many of us respond to a combination of methods, depending on the material we are working to master.Medical Trainees

(4) Take a cue from a patient you saw today…
When possible, integrate your study into your clinical practice. For instance, if you just saw that rare patient with amyloid heart disease, perhaps you had just enough time during rounds or clinic to access a quick point of care reference, and then you were paged to the CCU. Make a quick note (in your smartphone etc) to review the content on amyloidosis in whatever resources(s) you use to study. If you can do so later that day, or even that week, the topic will be more meaningful to you with a real clinical picture top of mind.

Patient Care

(5) Familiarize yourself with the distribution of questions.
Keep in mind that four areas comprise about 2/3 of the content.

(6) We are not as accurate as we think we are when we assess our knowledge gaps. Consider a study tool that starts with an assessment that will help assess your knowledge gaps, and point you in the right direction(s) to meet your needs, allowing you to study smarter!

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