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Mehd School

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Hi guys. I'd like like to make a space where CA1's (and very soon we'll be CA2's I guess) can discuss how we're prepping for the Basic exam in early August. Curious to hear what materials you're using, and general discussion about the exam as a whole.

I'll start by saying that I'm a little nervous about the exam as I did quite poorly on the ITE. Just less than 20th percentile. I'm historically a good test taker, I just happened to draw the short straw and was on our tough Trauma/SICU month at the time of the ITE. I was coming off of two weeks of night float and was not adequately prepared. But man oh man has my program put a lot of pressure on me to do well on basic after flunking ITE.

I'm planning on making it through True learn 2 full times, and 1 final quick scan of my incorrects. Also reading Morgan and Mikhail for weak spots. One of our fellowship program directors is an author of the book "Basic Sciences in Anesthesia", so I'm planning on making it through that text this month as my primary written resource. It's not a very well known text but seniors at my program swear by it.

I was considering using pass machine, but will save that in case I fail basic the first time. I truly don't think I will, as I'm historically a strong test taker (260/262) and was simply underprepared for ITE. Using two weeks of vacation as a dedicated time but I have a lot of free time inbetween now and the test which is almost exactly 2 months away.
 

Mehd School

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I should add, my prep for ITE was basically just make it through Truelearn. I did it, but the last half of the q bank was half a$$ed, in that I had time to do the questions but not enough time to thoroughly review them. Fixing that for BASIC for sure.
 
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Good luck. You obviously have ability based on your step scores. You can only go up from here.

I think your case demonstrates the importance of doing well on exams during residency to avoid creating an uphill battle for restoring your reputation. Luckily for you, i think you are in a safer position being appropriately nervous than you would be if you had randomly crushed the ITE and gained false reassurance.

Residency and studying is a lot like working out. There is a trade off for time between being early for cases, studying, and maintaining a healthy amount of personal time off. If you create good habits early and keep up with it long enough, you will build stamina and will be able to make all 3 work.

If you are planning on doing a qbank twice, make sure you give a concerted effort to understanding the questions, answers, and wrong answers the first time through. The second time through you may simply know the answer, not understand why you got it right, and glaze over questions you don’t necessarily understand as well as you should.

Strategize understanding high yield points. If most test takers get a question correct and you don’t, you need to master that question. If only 20% get it right, there’s a chance the question is faulty. Make sure you know the high yield points before getting lost in highly technical questions that make your head spin and drain your energy.
 
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JiPo

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I echo what SnapperRocks said. Truelearn is a phenomenal resource. Whether that is the only resource you should use to obtain necessary foundation to become a great anesthesiologist is a completely different story. But, for the purpose of passing this exam, Truelearn has more than enough information. The key is knowing all the information on Truelearn. Just like any question bank, it is so easy to half-ass through the question bank. Spend the time to learn it well, even if you get the questions right. With your step score, you are clearly smart and are a great test taker. If you give yourself adequate time to study, you will be fine. Good luck.
 
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Mehd School

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Definitely appreciate everyone's input.

Other CA1's feel free to chime in with how things are going for you.
 
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ToKingdomCome

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Does the percentile/score matter and does it get sent to fellowships or is this virtually just a passs/fail exam?
 

amandaeleven

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Hi there!

I wrote up what I did to study for the BASIC in my blog entry: How to study for the ABA [American Board of Anesthesiology] BASIC exam

Heads-up that if you're an ASA Resident Member, you have FREE access to the ACE 2019 questions through June 30th, 2020! Here's the link: ASA Education Center: Complimentary Courses for Resident Members - if you have some free time for the next couple of weeks, I'd focus on getting these complimentary questions done with notes taken on them before the offer expires.

Let me know if you have follow-up questions! Good luck to you!
 
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JiPo

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Does the percentile/score matter and does it get sent to fellowships or is this virtually just a passs/fail exam?

it is pass/fail/top 10%. I can only speak for cardiac. Programs asked for the “pass letter”, and if you scored top 10%, you can submit the top 10% letter to programs.

As for how much impact it makes, I have no clue, but many interviewers congratulated me on getting top 10%, so some do look at it.
 
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amandaeleven

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During my fellowship applications [I initially applied for dual cardiac/ICU... and then quickly realized that my quality of life would be impacted by such a decision and dropped cardiac], most places asked for ITE scores and confirmation of P/F. I did not score in the top 10% [never been a strong test taker], but it didn't hinder me from getting offers. Perhaps it would matter more when applying to pain [which is more competitive]?
 
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Gern Blansten

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Getting top 10% is a huge deal and should absolutely be listed in the honors section of your CV. It will impress fellowship directors who have increasingly fewer data points with which to evaluate applicants. It gives them confidence that you will not fail the advanced written exam (and therefore be distracted by test prep during your one year fellowship) as well as confidence in your ability to pass sub specialty board exams including the advanced TEE Exam. Fellowship programs, like core residency programs, are evaluated by the board pass rates of their grads. Any fellowship director would be happy to have someone where they know passing a test will be something they don't have to worry about. So, a track record of excellence will go a long way towards making you stand out among your peers.
Not getting top 10% is not bad and most will still get the fellowships they want, they may just have to work a little harder in the other important areas. Getting top 10% will just put you in the pole position in the race, which is not a bad place to start.
 
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apr27

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it is pass/fail/top 10%. I can only speak for cardiac. Programs asked for the “pass letter”, and if you scored top 10%, you can submit the top 10% letter to programs.

As for how much impact it makes, I have no clue, but many interviewers congratulated me on getting top 10%, so some do look at it.

Any tips? I guess, what did you do?
 

abolt18

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it is pass/fail/top 10%. I can only speak for cardiac. Programs asked for the “pass letter”, and if you scored top 10%, you can submit the top 10% letter to programs.

As for how much impact it makes, I have no clue, but many interviewers congratulated me on getting top 10%, so some do look at it.
Agreed. Not having top10% can't hurt you, but having it can only help you. My scores were commented on in every interview.

Good luck with the match next week!
 
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JiPo

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Any tips? I guess, what did you do?

I did two passes of Truelearn and read faust. I read barash throughout my CA-1 year as well. I think I finished most of the chapters that are tested on BASIC by the time I took it.
 
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Mehd School

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Bump. How's everyone doing? On my second pass of truelearn, big picture things are sticking better but lots of minutia that will need to be crammed. Getting crushed on my Trauma ICU month, which isn't good timing. I have a week of night float leading up to basic that will be almost pure protected study time though.
 

Consigliere

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Hi guys. I'd like like to make a space where CA1's (and very soon we'll be CA2's I guess) can discuss how we're prepping for the Basic exam in early August.

OMG you guys are soooo serious. Wanna know how I prepared for the Basic Exam? I got drunk as shi_t the night before and stumbled into the exam hungover. I then proceeded to take the exam as quickly as possible, not giving a rat's ass what I scored. Things may have changed but my program couldn't care less what your score was. I failed it every year since I did ZERO preparation (unless you consider spanking my liver as prep) and nothing was said. Graduated, worked wherever I wanted, made fat stacks, and now I'm out. Life is too short - something you'll appreciate as the hair gets grayer and the prostate gets larger.
 
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JiPo

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OMG you guys are soooo serious. Wanna know how I prepared for the Basic Exam? I got drunk as shi_t the night before and stumbled into the exam hungover. I then proceeded to take the exam as quickly as possible, not giving a rat's ass what I scored. Things may have changed but my program couldn't care less what your score was. I failed it every year since I did ZERO preparation (unless you consider spanking my liver as prep) and nothing was said. Graduated, worked wherever I wanted, made fat stacks, and now I'm out. Life is too short - something you'll appreciate as the hair gets grayer and the prostate gets larger.

I respect your perspective, but you shouldnt make the OP’s effort sound like it is a waste of time. Summer is especially busy for residents with new CA-1’s starting, and I applaud OP’s dedication and work ethic to do well on this exam.

Doing well on exams (or scoring top 10% in this case) has its merits during residency in addition to having a stronger knowledge base. It is not as useless as you make it out to be.

The way attendings see you changes, and you are always given the benefit of the doubt. They assume the best of you as your reputation is elevated within the program. It is also a nice thing to put on CV for fellowship application. With the market getting tougher, many residents pursue fellowships, and having a stronger cv will help them match a more competitive subspecialty or program so they have a leg up on networking/Job search.

With everything being more competitive (good jobs/fellowships) these days, you should take any advantage you can get. Keep up the good work, OP.
 
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DocVapor

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OMG you guys are soooo serious. Wanna know how I prepared for the Basic Exam? I got drunk as shi_t the night before and stumbled into the exam hungover. I then proceeded to take the exam as quickly as possible, not giving a rat's ass what I scored. Things may have changed but my program couldn't care less what your score was. I failed it every year since I did ZERO preparation (unless you consider spanking my liver as prep) and nothing was said. Graduated, worked wherever I wanted, made fat stacks, and now I'm out. Life is too short - something you'll appreciate as the hair gets grayer and the prostate gets larger.
Before you get all high and mighty you should probably know what you're talking about. This thread is about the ABA BASIC, not the ITE. It's the first step in the multi-exam board process. There is no score, it's Pass/Fail. You pass it once then you move on to the ABA Advanced. You fail it, you get to try again. You fail it again and many programs will hold you back a year (at a minimum). If you don't pass it, no ABA board certification. Likely won't be allowed to complete residency. Which means no job.

So no, the ABA BASIC is not a test someone should take lightly and certainly not one where they should get hammered the night before.
 
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Consigliere

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I respect your perspective, but you shouldnt make the OP’s effort sound like it is a waste of time. Summer is especially busy for residents with new CA-1’s starting, and I applaud OP’s dedication and work ethic to do well on this exam.

Doing well on exams (or scoring top 10% in this case) has its merits during residency in addition to having a stronger knowledge base. It is not as useless as you make it out to be.

The way attendings see you changes, and you are always given the benefit of the doubt. They assume the best of you as your reputation is elevated within the program. It is also a nice thing to put on CV for fellowship application. With the market getting tougher, many residents pursue fellowships, and having a stronger cv will help them match a more competitive subspecialty or program so they have a leg up on networking/Job search.

With everything being more competitive (good jobs/fellowships) these days, you should take any advantage you can get. Keep up the good work, OP.
Right, buuuuut.....fat stacks were made regardless.
 
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Consigliere

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Before you get all high and mighty you should probably know what you're talking about. This thread is about the ABA BASIC, not the ITE. It's the first step in the multi-exam board process. There is no score, it's Pass/Fail. You pass it once then you move on to the ABA Advanced. You fail it, you get to try again. You fail it again and many programs will hold you back a year (at a minimum). If you don't pass it, no ABA board certification. Likely won't be allowed to complete residency. Which means no job.

So no, the ABA BASIC is not a test someone should take lightly and certainly not one where they should get hammered the night before.
Like I said, things have changed. Thanks for the unsolicited education, Socrates.
 

anbuitachi

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I should add, my prep for ITE was basically just make it through Truelearn. I did it, but the last half of the q bank was half a$$ed, in that I had time to do the questions but not enough time to thoroughly review them. Fixing that for BASIC for sure.

how are you with taking tests in general.. step 1 , 2?
if you did 50% truelearn and got bottom 20%, thats an issue. were you not heavy on the reading during your year of training? you should be learning thruout the year, not just around ite
 
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sevo00

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OMG you guys are soooo serious. Wanna know how I prepared for the Basic Exam? I got drunk as shi_t the night before and stumbled into the exam hungover. I then proceeded to take the exam as quickly as possible, not giving a rat's ass what I scored. Things may have changed but my program couldn't care less what your score was. I failed it every year since I did ZERO preparation (unless you consider spanking my liver as prep) and nothing was said. Graduated, worked wherever I wanted, made fat stacks, and now I'm out. Life is too short - something you'll appreciate as the hair gets grayer and the prostate gets larger.

This is horrible advice. The BASIC exam is actually important and residents do get held back if they fail. This is the type of response I would expect from a CRNA taking an exam who couldn't care less. Even if this was not a board exam and still the ITE, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do your best and have an understanding of the science behind the field you will be practicing in for the rest of your life. But I guess you're too cool to study bro, nice as to set an example of showing up to tests hungover.

OP, do not listen to this guy, do your best and make sure also to review the outline on the ASA website to make sure you have an understanding of the topics listed there.
 

Gern Blansten

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I believe the fail rate is now around 10%, so the exam should be taken very seriously. A show of hands poll of PDs at the annual meeting a couple of years ago suggested that many would drop a resident from the program for two failures. For three failures, it looked like far more than half felt dropping the resident from the program was appropriate. That makes this a high stakes exam in the eyes of the ABA and in the eyes of your residency program.
 

anbuitachi

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I believe the fail rate is now around 10%, so the exam should be taken very seriously. A show of hands poll of PDs at the annual meeting a couple of years ago suggested that many would drop a resident from the program for two failures. For three failures, it looked like far more than half felt dropping the resident from the program was appropriate. That makes this a high stakes exam in the eyes of the ABA and in the eyes of your residency program.

not too surprised. no one should be failing this exam twice. with a 90% pass chance... itd be pretty hard to fail TWICE especially since its a written test with plenty of time. IMO there isnt even that much thinking involved in this test. a lot of it is either you know it or you dont with very short questions. so it should be pretty directly related to how much you study
 
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ucladoc2b

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not too surprised. no one should be failing this exam twice. with a 90% pass chance... itd be pretty hard to fail TWICE especially since its a written test with plenty of time. IMO there isnt even that much thinking involved in this test. a lot of it is either you know it or you dont with very short questions. so it should be pretty directly related to how much you study

I wonder what percent of candidates eventually pass the test (must be around 97-99%).
 

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Are most CA-1s taking the exam in August or in November?
 

Mehd School

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We were not given a choice and must take it in August.
 

Mehd School

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Home stretch friends. Doing one last thorough pass of my basic essentials review book, Doing my incorrects on Truelearn and resting up. Also going to do some random timed truelearn blocks so I can get into testing mode a little bit. All things I've had success with along the way with steps etc. How's everyone else doing?
 

Mehd School

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Good luck to those taking basic today. An old classmate on the east coast took it this morning and said it was very rough. We're gonna make it.
 
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mavsfanMD

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Yeah I thought it was tough tbh. A few questions I just straight up guessed. Hopefully it turns out okay.
 

ToKingdomCome

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I got some easy questions wrong which frustrates me. Oh Well
 

Mehd School

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One of my co residents took it yesterday and brought up an interesting point. Our attendings should take this exam. In my department only 3 attendings are young enough to have taken it. The rest have no idea. If an exam as bizarre as what I took today can potentially be a barrier for me getting my license terminated (after two failures, no chance for remediation) they should at least see first hand what we're up against.

Residents a year senior to me said that Truelearn was not only enough to pass this test, but to absolutely crush it. Whatever abomination I took today was not that. There was enough easy questions that I hope I pass, but I am concerned if I have to retake it I don't know how I would prepare differently for this crapshoot of a test.
 

coffeebythelake

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During my fellowship applications [I initially applied for dual cardiac/ICU... and then quickly realized that my quality of life would be impacted by such a decision and dropped cardiac], most places asked for ITE scores and confirmation of P/F. I did not score in the top 10% [never been a strong test taker], but it didn't hinder me from getting offers. Perhaps it would matter more when applying to pain [which is more competitive]?

That makes me feel better if I ever decide to apply for fellowship...
 

coffeebythelake

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Can you point me in the direction of where you read this? I can't find it anywhere.

Dude thats just how percentile scoring systems work. Raw scores dont matter so much. You are judged based on your performance compared to your peers. Thats how your USMLE works. Thats how ITE works. Thats how the anesthesia written boards work.
 
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