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ABA exam - written

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just2063

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Yeah, I really thought they'd be up today. Tried calling the ABA just to see, but only got a voicemail. Oh well; will just wait for an e-mail. Are you guys checking the ABA Physician Portal too? Under exam status mine still says "scheduled". That isn't reassuring given that I took it over 4 weeks ago now. Can anyone else confirm that theirs still says "scheduled" as well?
 

Chief Brody

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Yeah, I really thought they'd be up today. Tried calling the ABA just to see, but only got a voicemail. Oh well; will just wait for an e-mail. Are you guys checking the ABA Physician Portal too? Under exam status mine still says "scheduled". That isn't reassuring given that I took it over 4 weeks ago now. Can anyone else confirm that theirs still says "scheduled" as well?
Emailed the ABA today re: my "scheduled" status. Was told it would update only when the results are available... The waiting game continues.
 

aneftp

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Honestly, it's a computer exam. The ABA could have given you the results almost instantly like they do many computer exams for other fields.

The ABA just chooses to sit and exam what the "cutoff" for passing the exam is. It makes zero sense.

"oh this year, lets set the standard passing at 85%". That's what I "think" they do. Complete joke.

Look at previous years. The entering residency class of 1991 (those finishing anesthesia in 1995) probably was the toughest class to get into anesthesia. Anesthesia was really at it's peak way back than when most of you guys were still in elementary school. Yet those passing rates were in the 70's percent tile.

Now the passing rate is between 85-88%. Which means the ABA is just manipulating the standard bell curve.
 

just2063

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Honestly, it's a computer exam. The ABA could have given you the results almost instantly like they do many computer exams for other fields.

The ABA just chooses to sit and exam what the "cutoff" for passing the exam is. It makes zero sense.

"oh this year, lets set the standard passing at 85%". That's what I "think" they do. Complete joke.

Look at previous years. The entering residency class of 1991 (those finishing anesthesia in 1995) probably was the toughest class to get into anesthesia. Anesthesia was really at it's peak way back than when most of you guys were still in elementary school. Yet those passing rates were in the 70's percent tile.

Now the passing rate is between 85-88%. Which means the ABA is just manipulating the standard bell curve.

Yes, it's a computer exam and they could just give you an immediate score (pass/fail as a percent correct above a hard cutoff), but my understanding is that they carefully examine questions that had discrepancies and take these questions into consideration for "throwing them out". For instance, if 99% of respondents answer an item incorrectly, they flag the question, send it to an oversight committee and make the call as to whether to mark it wrong for the 99%, mark it right or throw it out. Anytime committees are involved, you can bet that things will take 4-6 weeks! :)
 
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just2063

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Also, I was in 6th grade in 1995. That's Middle School where I come from, thank you very much!

Also, the current pass rate (as of 2014) was 90% for first time test takers. (see below, from ABA)

IMG_4376 (2).PNG
 
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pgg

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For cryin' out loud, it's not a middle school spelling test.


In the dark days of the specialty, when residency programs didn't fill, and any warm body who wasn't a felon could match to anesthesia, the board pass rate dropped to 50%. Garbage in, garbage out.

Anesthesia has been competitive in the last decade or so. Why wouldn't pass rates approach 90%?

This is exactly what you'd expect if the ABA was upholding a standard, which is what we want.

They take their sweet time to run the data and manually examine worrisome patterns, in order to throw out bad questions. They also evaluate new "test" test questions. Writing and validating good questions is hard and takes humans.

Save your ABA ire for the MOCA nonsense. The written exam and a few weeks to grade it is just fine.
 
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aneftp

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For cryin' out loud, it's not a middle school spelling test.


In the dark days of the specialty, when residency programs didn't fill, and any warm body who wasn't a felon could match to anesthesia, the board pass rate dropped to 50%. Garbage in, garbage out.

Anesthesia has been competitive in the last decade or so. Why wouldn't pass rates approach 90%?

This is exactly what you'd expect if the ABA was upholding a standard, which is what we want.

They take their sweet time to run the data and manually examine worrisome patterns, in order to throw out bad questions. They also evaluate new "test" test questions. Writing and validating good questions is hard and takes humans.

Save your ABA ire for the MOCA nonsense. The written exam and a few weeks to grade it is just fine.

I wasn't talking about the dark days. I was talking about the ultra competitive 1990-1991 era. Those spots filled easily. How come passing rates were in the 70s with ultra competitive era?

It's those who entered circa 1995/1996 (finished 1999/2000) where passing rates were in the 60s.

Either the aba is changing the bell curve. Or people are smarter (at taking tests)
 

just2063

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I think it's a bit of the fact that we have trained better "test-takers" (many residents nowadays are test taking machines and study mostly old test questions or question banks before the exam) as well as more competitive applicants to Anesthesiology as a whole. But mostly the former.

Also, I totally agree that 4-6 weeks to grade the Written Exam is ok; I'm just getting impatient. Believe me, I'm not thrilled that the reward for passing is that we get to take the Oral Exam next year! :scared: As for the MOCA, I'll save some anxiety for that in 10 years. Knowing the ABA, it will go through a half-dozen iterations by then and will be totally different by the time we take it anyway.
 
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TheKidCanRun

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Passed! What a relief. That test was a bear. Studied hard with M5, ACE, M&M for CA-3 ITE, saw a significant improvement from years past. Took a little time off after ITE but then just continued consistent studying and ramped it up at the end. Did Matthes too and highly recommend. Hope everyone got good news today.
 
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SuperHiro

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Passed. Only did ACEs and M5 and found them to be SUPER helpful. I sampled Matthes when my co-fellows did them in the fellows office and thought those questions were WAAAAAAAAAAY overboard for the exam.

I totally agree with everyone else who said not to slack off for the CA-3 ITE. I thought the exam was very similar to the ITEs. I walked out of the ABA exam feeling exactly how I felt when I walked out of the ITE.
 
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TaoistDoc

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Passed. Only used M5, Hall's and listened to audio blue (probably 10 times). Never touched Miller, M&M, Stoelting, etc. I hate big bulky text books.

Congrats everyone, now just have to worry about oral boards... and then recertification... and MOCA.....****, it never ends
 
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kazuma

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Passed! I ran through M5 in the 3 weeks leading up to the exam and it paid off.
I was kind of nervous since I started work on 7/1 and didn't have as much time as I would have liked between work moving. I had initially started doing open anesthesia questions in June. I got through about 400 before I got sick of them and called it quits. M5 was much higher yeild. I also did about 200 ACE questions in May/June. Congrats everybody!
 
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Jay82

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Passed my test!!!! Just got results back via snail mail. High 80's percentile. Obviously read voraciously in residency to have a strong foundation. Cramming for test while working caused me to streamline my studying. Recommend ACE question and Truelearn question bank (went through 1.5 times).
 
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Folken

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For future test takers, here is my summary:

CA-1 ITE: 35 percentile, 27 raw - no studying (except minor reading for cases)
CA-2 ITE: 29 percentile, 30 raw - Hall questions
CA-3 ITE: 26 percentile, 32 raw - M5 questions
Written Boards: 75 percentile - TrueLearn & ACE questions

I don't post this to tout the effectiveness of TL and ACE, or how great a crammer I am (trust me - I felt pretty lucky to pass - I missed 44/225 questions, not including the 25 trial questions they threw out, but I flagged 60-70 questions that I felt were (less than) 50/50 guesses). Rather, as other posters have shown, the resources you use doesn't necessarily determine how well you do. Find a resource you like, whether that's a textbook, openanesthesia, q-banks, and use it consistently. Read up on your cases, and take good, organized notes to review in the few days before a test.

Realistically though, during your three years of anesthesia residency, it should not be a problem to get through all of the question banks. If I could go back and do it, I'd recommend:

CA-1: TrueLearn Basic Exam q-bank & Hall (basic sections)
CA-2: TL ITE q-bank & Hall (advanced subspecialty sections) & M5
CA-3: TL Written Exam q-bank & M5

I would supplement all these q-banks with ACE exams, especially leading up to the tests (those questions are most reflective in regards to style and content of the ITE and boards). I never used the openanesthesia q-bank, but have heard good things.

Also, because everyone still crams (or at least increases their studying leading up to a test), I'm sure most would benefit from delaying their new job or fellowship by 1 month after completion of residency to focus solely on studying. While many fellowships may not allow this, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Anyways, my two cents.
 
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ZzzPlz

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For future test takers, here is my summary:

CA-1 ITE: 35 percentile, 27 raw - no studying (except minor reading for cases)
CA-2 ITE: 29 percentile, 30 raw - Hall questions
CA-3 ITE: 26 percentile, 32 raw - M5 questions
Written Boards: 75 percentile - TrueLearn & ACE questions

I don't post this to tout the effectiveness of TL and ACE, or how great a crammer I am (trust me - I felt pretty lucky to pass - I missed 44/225 questions, not including the 25 trial questions they threw out, but I flagged 60-70 questions that I felt were (less than) 50/50 guesses). Rather, as other posters have shown, the resources you use doesn't necessarily determine how well you do. Find a resource you like, whether that's a textbook, openanesthesia, q-banks, and use it consistently. Read up on your cases, and take good, organized notes to review in the few days before a test.

Realistically though, during your three years of anesthesia residency, it should not be a problem to get through all of the question banks. If I could go back and do it, I'd recommend:

CA-1: TrueLearn Basic Exam q-bank & Hall (basic sections)
CA-2: TL ITE q-bank & Hall (advanced subspecialty sections) & M5
CA-3: TL Written Exam q-bank & M5

I would supplement all these q-banks with ACE exams, especially leading up to the tests (those questions are most reflective in regards to style and content of the ITE and boards). I never used the openanesthesia q-bank, but have heard good things.

Also, because everyone still crams (or at least increases their studying leading up to a test), I'm sure most would benefit from delaying their new job or fellowship by 1 month after completion of residency to focus solely on studying. While many fellowships may not allow this, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Anyways, my two cents.

Nice post

I was usually in the low 20th percentile for ITE (intern ca1 and ca2). Something terrible happened on my last ITE and I went down... Big time... <5th percentile. Nothing like a shock like that to help with studying motivation!

Up until June of CA3 year I did almost no studying other than looking up pertinent info for the next day's cases.

Starting in June I went through all of M5 board review and did Pass machine all the way through. I then did 2 ACE booklets and spent lots of time reading the answers. Those books are MONEY and every word of the explanations are very high yield for the written exam.

Just got my score report and I improved to 80th percentile.

I think my case shows that even if you aren't especially strong with the ITEs, by taking a month or so before boards to really dedicate to studying, like 8 hours a day, you'll likely be fine.

Good luck
 

divinemsm

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If I could give what I consider to be essential advice for passing the written exam it would be the following: I teach / interact with residents daily and I reiterate to them over and over again-to make a serious effort to do 2 -3 hall questions a day: in depth-meaning taking notes on the explanation and reading the corresponding portion in Baby Miller. I tell them if you are REALLY doing this-it should be about 45 minutes to an hour to complete the task.

If they do this at minimum faithfully-they will have gone through the question book three times -for really real-by residency end.

Stick to ONE primary source/ textbook. You will drive yourself nuts jumping between Baby Miller/ Yao / Morgan etc etc etc.


My personal opinion is that the board is similar in difficulty to a Hall question type with , of course , more than a few " WTF could they POSSIBLY be getting at with this one ?" questions.

The hardest thing for me to accept / overcome on the written board was the fact that they require you to choose the most correct answer out of more than one correct / applicable choice.

If you have missed a few words in a section describing why a drug behaves the way it does in vivo or a subtlety of a physiologic process-the board will exploit that and expose you when you choose the least correct of the two to three correct choices they provide as options.

My 2 cents.
 
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sahmbo

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ITEs -- 20s/30s %ile -- used Hall, Matthes
Written boards -- 67%ile -- my own notecards, true learn, some ACE, Big Blue

True learn and M5 are both good q banks. ACE exams are helpful. Matthes is great. Big Blue is kinda dumb and I could have passed without spending all that money.

Advice: For written boards, M5, True Learn, a few ACEs, and your own self-made notes/notecards will be a great plan for success. Take the test seriously, but do not ignore your family or your health.
 
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