Please recommend study techniques for written boards

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I have had difficulty  with  standardized  tests all of my  life. I did well in other aspects of my studies. The written boards have been a  challenge for me. I have read the basic  science series, taken  review  courses, used provision series, used mass eye and ear  board  review-  yet  have  not been successful. I have recently found ophthoquestions.com. Can you please recommend study strategies to pass the  written  boards? Responses would be greatly appreciated. 
#1 05/28/2018 at 07:14 PM
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Obviously, we are very biased to the questions on OphthoQuestions.  These questions have been repeatedly modified, augmented, and critiqued for the past 7 years.  There is a wealth of information in our question bank along with years worth of comments by other users.  These two components make it an invaluable resource.  There is a reason that >90% of residents and fellows use our website to prepare for their board exams.

When I studied for my WQE, I did not re-read the BCSC series.  I found them very dry and boring and hard to integrate information.  I don't receive financial incentives from anyone, but when I was studying for the WQE, the best review books were:

- "Review of Ophthalmology" (Neil Friedman)  This is a great outline with all of the bullet points for all the high-yield topics on board exams.

- "Last Minute Optics" (Connie West)  This is basically all you need to understand the essential Optics problems that are on the boards.  Trust me, I'm terrible at Optics and somehow did stellar just using this book.

I would strongly discourage you from having too many textbooks from which to study.  Doing so will overwhelm and lower your morale.  Just do the questions here, read "Review of Ophthalmology", and work through the problems in "Last Minute Optics."  I think that's the highest yield approach to passing your boards.
#2 05/28/2018 at 08:40 PM
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Florida
If someone agrees with the following ideas please share your comments and ideas on how to make it happen.

1- Can the WQE be offered twice a year? 
This will facilitate people to get over this pain faster fresh out from residency (if 1st attempt) or if someone fails, they can retry in 6 months and avoid waiting another year.

2- Can the examination results be available in less than 2 weeks?
The current waiting period of  EIGHT weeks is too long. TWO MONTHS of agony waiting. If you fail, then you have wasted 2 months of preparation for next attempt.

3- Can the period of 5-years to pass the boards start after one is done with fellowship?
If you do a 2-year fellowship and decide to take the WQE in the second year but you fail, then you have 3 years to complete the boards. If the test is offered once a year then you take the test in the 3rd year and if you pass wait to take the orals by the 4rth year. At this point you can not fail otherwise you loose your career...

Let me know your thoughts and ideas on how to propose this. I know ABO could come up with explanations for keeping this process like as it is. CHANGE will require effort and I am wondering how can we make the ABO know that there should be changes. Anyways. That is my opinion. Let me know yours.

#3 05/29/2018 at 12:45 PM
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Wizard of OQ
Obviously, we are very biased to the questions on OphthoQuestions.  These questions have been repeatedly modified, augmented, and critiqued for the past 7 years.  There is a wealth of information in our question bank along with years worth of comments by other users.  These two components make it an invaluable resource.  There is a reason that >90% of residents and fellows use our website to prepare for their board exams.

When I studied for my WQE, I did not re-read the BCSC series.  I found them very dry and boring and hard to integrate information.  I don't receive financial incentives from anyone, but when I was studying for the WQE, the best review books were:

- "Review of Ophthalmology" (Neil Friedman)  This is a great outline with all of the bullet points for all the high-yield topics on board exams.

- "Last Minute Optics" (Connie West)  This is basically all you need to understand the essential Optics problems that are on the boards.  Trust me, I'm terrible at Optics and somehow did stellar just using this book.

I would strongly discourage you from having too many textbooks from which to study.  Doing so will overwhelm and lower your morale.  Just do the questions here, read "Review of Ophthalmology", and work through the problems in "Last Minute Optics."  I think that's the highest yield approach to passing your boards.
Thank you for  your advice. I am  in the office/OR 4 days a week. So  my approach this  time was  to  study 8 hrs a day the 3 days that I am  not working. I was going to use 3/4 or the time on ophthoquestions and  1/4 doing book  review as  you  mentioned above on those  segments that i  identify as  weak  points from ophthoquestions. I have both  books you  mentioned so  i  will use  those per  your  recommendation- if  something  is unclear i will seek out the information  in other sources. Does that seem  like a winning strategy? Any additional recommendations would be appreciated.

Also  i have to  do the MOC submission of practice improvement to  be able to  take the  test again - any recommendations in that would be appreciated as well. 
#4 05/29/2018 at 12:47 PM
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Florida
Sorry I added the Board certification process improvements comment. I realized was better to start a new thread (and I did). Regardless of that I do think some of my points apply to you. Obviously, you work hard and study hard but despite that you have failed the WQE. Its OK to fail but wouldn't you think the process could be better for all of us keeping the same standards? What I am proposing doesn't affect the knowledge tested but just the bureaucratic aspect of board certification.
#5 05/29/2018 at 02:19 PM
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S.B.74
Thank you for  your advice. I am  in the office/OR 4 days a week. So  my approach this  time was  to  study 8 hrs a day the 3 days that I am  not working. I was going to use 3/4 or the time on ophthoquestions and  1/4 doing book  review as  you  mentioned above on those  segments that i  identify as  weak  points from ophthoquestions. I have both  books you  mentioned so  i  will use  those per  your  recommendation- if  something  is unclear i will seek out the information  in other sources. Does that seem  like a winning strategy? Any additional recommendations would be appreciated.

Also  i have to  do the MOC submission of practice improvement to  be able to  take the  test again - any recommendations in that would be appreciated as well. 
Can't you just do the "Quarterly Questions" for the MOC portion?  That's what I'm doing.  The MOC quarterly question are very clinical and easy.
#6 05/29/2018 at 11:42 PM
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Wizard of OQ
Can't you just do the "Quarterly Questions" for the MOC portion?  That's what I'm doing.  The MOC quarterly question are very clinical and easy.
No. when you  run out of time to  take the  boards - they  have a new rule now. You  need  3  letters of  recommendation, 25  cme (  i have way  more) , and  you  have to  do a  3  month  practice  improvement  project with a  data analysis. No problem i will do all that.  
How  about the  first  part  of   my  question  regarding 3/4 time  spent on ophtho  questions and  1/4  time  spent  on  books like  the ones you mentioned. I  feel  my  problem  with these  tests is that  i  am a  poor  standardized  test  taker rather than a  knowledge issue. do you  know of  any  people or  agencies  that  help  in this  regard? kind of like   evaluation and tutoring in the  testing  arena? advice is  quite appreciated.
#7 06/01/2018 at 12:15 PM
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S.B.74
No. when you  run out of time to  take the  boards - they  have a new rule now. You  need  3  letters of  recommendation, 25  cme (  i have way  more) , and  you  have to  do a  3  month  practice  improvement  project with a  data analysis. No problem i will do all that.  
How  about the  first  part  of   my  question  regarding 3/4 time  spent on ophtho  questions and  1/4  time  spent  on  books like  the ones you mentioned. I  feel  my  problem  with these  tests is that  i  am a  poor  standardized  test  taker rather than a  knowledge issue. do you  know of  any  people or  agencies  that  help  in this  regard? kind of like   evaluation and tutoring in the  testing  arena? advice is  quite appreciated.
I think 2/3 time on OphthoQuestions and 1/3 of time on Friedman is a good approach.  The same topics and question-types get tested over-and-over again.  Many questions come in the form of "second order level of thinking."  For example, they will show you a photograph.  But instead of just asking you "What is the diagnosis?"...they will ask a 2nd-level-of-thinking question like "What is the preferred management of the entity depicted above?"

I don't know of any agencies that offer the type of personalized tutoring that you are seeking.  Like I mentioned before, if you get to the stage where you need help passing the oral boards, then I may offer you my services if you want.  I say "may" because it does take a lot of time!
#8 06/02/2018 at 06:38 PM
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Wizard of OQ
I think 2/3 time on OphthoQuestions and 1/3 of time on Friedman is a good approach.  The same topics and question-types get tested over-and-over again.  Many questions come in the form of "second order level of thinking."  For example, they will show you a photograph.  But instead of just asking you "What is the diagnosis?"...they will ask a 2nd-level-of-thinking question like "What is the preferred management of the entity depicted above?"

I don't know of any agencies that offer the type of personalized tutoring that you are seeking.  Like I mentioned before, if you get to the stage where you need help passing the oral boards, then I may offer you my services if you want.  I say "may" because it does take a lot of time!
thank  you for your  advice. i  will work with  diligence in the mentioned technique. i have now added  quizlet as a add  on to make  flash cards  off  of the ophthoquestion answers  that are pure memorization like which gene codes for juvenile glaucoma, etc. hopefully this will  pan out. putting in 18 hrs  per  week of  study  time- just  because of  work/family  constraints.  
#9 06/10/2018 at 01:18 PM
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Wizard of OQ
I think 2/3 time on OphthoQuestions and 1/3 of time on Friedman is a good approach.  The same topics and question-types get tested over-and-over again.  Many questions come in the form of "second order level of thinking."  For example, they will show you a photograph.  But instead of just asking you "What is the diagnosis?"...they will ask a 2nd-level-of-thinking question like "What is the preferred management of the entity depicted above?"

I don't know of any agencies that offer the type of personalized tutoring that you are seeking.  Like I mentioned before, if you get to the stage where you need help passing the oral boards, then I may offer you my services if you want.  I say "may" because it does take a lot of time!
do  you think  if  i use  primarily  ophtho questions and  quizlet  and last minute  optics  it will get  me the pass?- how important is  friedman?
#10 06/16/2018 at 07:15 PM
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S.B.74
do  you think  if  i use  primarily  ophtho questions and  quizlet  and last minute  optics  it will get  me the pass?- how important is  friedman?
Again no financial interest, but I do think Friedman is a nice outline of everything you need to know to pass the WQE.  That's what I used 8 years ago, and it continues to be a popular option.
#11 06/17/2018 at 12:33 AM
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Wizard of OQ
Obviously, we are very biased to the questions on OphthoQuestions.  These questions have been repeatedly modified, augmented, and critiqued for the past 7 years.  There is a wealth of information in our question bank along with years worth of comments by other users.  These two components make it an invaluable resource.  There is a reason that >90% of residents and fellows use our website to prepare for their board exams.

When I studied for my WQE, I did not re-read the BCSC series.  I found them very dry and boring and hard to integrate information.  I don't receive financial incentives from anyone, but when I was studying for the WQE, the best review books were:

- "Review of Ophthalmology" (Neil Friedman)  This is a great outline with all of the bullet points for all the high-yield topics on board exams.

- "Last Minute Optics" (Connie West)  This is basically all you need to understand the essential Optics problems that are on the boards.  Trust me, I'm terrible at Optics and somehow did stellar just using this book.

I would strongly discourage you from having too many textbooks from which to study.  Doing so will overwhelm and lower your morale.  Just do the questions here, read "Review of Ophthalmology", and work through the problems in "Last Minute Optics."  I think that's the highest yield approach to passing your boards.
Do you know what % of residents use ophthoquestions for OKAP preparation?
#12 12/31/2018 at 08:30 AM
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Do you know what % of residents use ophthoquestions for OKAP preparation?
In the range of 90% :-)  Take care.
#13 12/31/2018 at 06:55 PM
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like this thread

im preparing for part 2 frcophth and my current plan is to be consistent. do 10 - 30 questions (with review answers at the same time). copy and paste them onto word and then go through each topic with oxford handbook review. 


#14 02/12/2019 at 08:51 PM
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When I was preparing for exams, I used ophthoquestions.com. It is a lot of information, and also it is described very accessible and clear. If I did not find something there, I searched various blogs on the Internet. For example: nyulangone.org/press-releases/factor-preserve-dna-integrity-in-bacteria-despite-assault-from-antibiotics. In such blogs, everything was described on a specific topic, as well as any alternatives. I hope I could help you with something.
#15 03/18/2019 at 08:44 AM
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Anonymous

Hoping for some help here.

I recently failed the WQE by about 2 questions (691, 700 req'd to pass), and I'm hoping to make a few tweaks to my studying to get over the hump. Generally a decent test taker, but never did great on OKAPs despite studying quite a lot. Our residency program was good surgically but very weak on didactics, lectures, etc.

To study, I went through the Chern Q book, all of OQ HY questions, and maybe 60% of the non-HY. I scored about 70th percentile on OQ, so it was very frustrating to me that I didn't pass even though I was doing well on OQ. This has been the case with my OKAPs as well. I also read through some of the BCSC and used it as a reference for question review, etc. Did go through Friedman's with each section I was reviewing but did not re-read it extensively. Made flash cards (Anki) for things gotten wrong but felt I didn't have a ton of time to go back and review them.

I am thinking of getting the Osler Online course just to have the combined video/audio and a guided study plan in the hopes it'll fill in the gaps for me. I like the idea of being able to come back to it multiple times over a 3 month period.

Any other recommendations? This is very frustrating and a bit demoralizing as I really felt I gave it my best effort.

#16 06/05/2019 at 03:57 AM
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Hoping for some help here.

I recently failed the WQE by about 2 questions (691, 700 req'd to pass), and I'm hoping to make a few tweaks to my studying to get over the hump. Generally a decent test taker, but never did great on OKAPs despite studying quite a lot. Our residency program was good surgically but very weak on didactics, lectures, etc.

To study, I went through the Chern Q book, all of OQ HY questions, and maybe 60% of the non-HY. I scored about 70th percentile on OQ, so it was very frustrating to me that I didn't pass even though I was doing well on OQ. This has been the case with my OKAPs as well. I also read through some of the BCSC and used it as a reference for question review, etc. Did go through Friedman's with each section I was reviewing but did not re-read it extensively. Made flash cards (Anki) for things gotten wrong but felt I didn't have a ton of time to go back and review them.

I am thinking of getting the Osler Online course just to have the combined video/audio and a guided study plan in the hopes it'll fill in the gaps for me. I like the idea of being able to come back to it multiple times over a 3 month period.

Any other recommendations? This is very frustrating and a bit demoralizing as I really felt I gave it my best effort.

What were your worst subjects?  Optics?
#17 06/05/2019 at 04:37 AM
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Wizard of OQ
What were your worst subjects?  Optics?
The original post was not mine but I’m in a very similar situation, identical score. My score report said I scored poorly in 7/9 subjects basically everything except retina and uveitis. 
Struggled with time constraints due to fellowship and family so could not do heavy dedicated studying per se but really just all the review questions through OphthoQuestions and AAO qbanks.
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]I personally think that I was doing well on questions probably because I had seen them before. I ended up just going back and doing questions I had gotten wrong - probably not a good strategy. My 50-60th percentile on OQ was probably falsely elevated and I had a false sense of confidence. [/font]
Optics was one of my worst, yes, but clearly not the only one. I was definitely a user of Friedman, OQ, and Last Minute Optics but probably need a major change in my strategy this time around. 
A year from now to retest feels a long time a way but given that 3 months of questions in spare time (evenings/mornings/weekends mostly) was not enough, I was hoping for a good 1 year or 6 mos strategy. I am thinking that I need to go back to the basics on some of these topics, have a strict study schedule, etc.
Any advice is much appreciated.
#18 10/30/2020 at 02:37 PM
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Anonymous

Guest
The original post was not mine but I’m in a very similar situation, identical score. My score report said I scored poorly in 7/9 subjects basically everything except retina and uveitis. 
Struggled with time constraints due to fellowship and family so could not do heavy dedicated studying per se but really just all the review questions through OphthoQuestions and AAO qbanks.
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]I personally think that I was doing well on questions probably because I had seen them before. I ended up just going back and doing questions I had gotten wrong - probably not a good strategy. My 50-60th percentile on OQ was probably falsely elevated and I had a false sense of confidence. [/font]
Optics was one of my worst, yes, but clearly not the only one. I was definitely a user of Friedman, OQ, and Last Minute Optics but probably need a major change in my strategy this time around. 
A year from now to retest feels a long time a way but given that 3 months of questions in spare time (evenings/mornings/weekends mostly) was not enough, I was hoping for a good 1 year or 6 mos strategy. I am thinking that I need to go back to the basics on some of these topics, have a strict study schedule, etc.
Any advice is much appreciated.
I am also not a good test taker and to be honest, I never really studied much for OKAPs. My percentiles in residency were terrible (like below 10..). This is what I did to pass written the first time: 

I did OphthoQuestions twice. I knew I was about to start a busy fellowship so I made a schedule and started early. Every day I tried to do at least 30 questions. Weekends were my catch up days, I aimed for 80+/day.  I made flash cards for questions I got wrong and looked at them often. I looked at pathology pictures daily (go to seen questions and scroll through questions with images- I actually think I memorized every picture in OQ- and googled pictures of wrong answer choices often).  I spent time making sure I was learning why each question was right and why the other choices were wrong. For questions I still felt like I didn't have a good grasp on, I watched you tube videos/skimmed bcsc/friendmans/called up a friend until I felt like I mastered that topic. 
I do think ophtho questions is the way to go. Don't bother trying to re-read bcsc. Try to go thoroughly thru the qbank at least once and if possible twice. You can do this!
#19 10/31/2020 at 03:11 AM
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