Sheldor

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Starting this to discuss this years Rad Bio/Physics exams, as well as talk about when we think we'll find out the scores.

I agree with RSAoaky from the other thread, I thought physics was okay, but was just completely surprised by Rad Bio. Felt like there was some book that everyone must have had to study from that I just didn't have :/
 

RSAOaky

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Whatever that book was I definitely didn't have it either, and it certainly wasn't hall.
 

medgator

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Whatever that book was I definitely didn't have it either, and it certainly wasn't hall.
ASTRO study guides? Those were key a decade ago, radbio exam was a breeze back then between doing those and reading Hall
 
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coldfusion

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I wonder if there were multiple test versions. Many people I've talk to feel especially worried about physics.
 

PruritisAni

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Not sure if serious?

Still no scores, 10 PST/1 EST looks like it won't be today. Waiting is hard :/
I'm serious. I've rarely walked out of an exam feeling that confident and I'm typically a serial worrier. Maybe it's been long enough from taking exams I don't care anymore?
 
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I heard from someone who is involved with the exam that the scores will be delayed while they reevaluate the passing grade due to greater than expected number of failures this year
 

ramsesthenice

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I heard from someone who is involved with the exam that the scores will be delayed while they reevaluate the passing grade due to greater than expected number of failures this year
I can't say that I am surprised. I know several people involved with developing the exam and for the last few years there has been talk of bringing down the pass rate. Certain people feel its too high and have thought that for a while now. Talking to our residents and the ones at my former program it sounded like a substantially harder test than I took last year. They may have finally acted on it.

I don't know if that logic applied to the clinical writtens too but it might have. That test was almost as hard as any in service I ever took and disproportionately focused on obscure topics. It wasn't really what I (or my co-residents and friend circle) expected based on our attendings and former co-resident's experiences.

Good luck to everyone. This is frustrating but its is what it is. Nothing we can do about it now.
 

radiaterMike

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There really is not a pass rate with respect to percent correct but rather based upon expected rate of examinees answering the questions correctly. So a harder exam (in theory) should have the same pass rate. I have no clue what the ABR is doing but perhaps they are adjusting the weighting of questions with respect to expected percentage knowing the answer.


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ramsesthenice

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There really is not a pass rate with respect to percent correct but rather based upon expected rate of examinees answering the questions correctly. So a harder exam (in theory) should have the same pass rate. I have no clue what the ABR is doing but perhaps they are adjusting the weighting of questions with respect to expected percentage knowing the answer.


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There is no point in speculating. The ABR is not a malicious organization out to ruin people careers. I was not really clear earlier. My understanding is they wanted to bring the pass rate down a little. Nothing drastic. Radiater is right. They are cryptic about how they score these things. It's pretty complicated and not any easy thing to just tweek because of that. It appears that they tried something a little new and it didn't pan out how they expected. The fact they are taking their time shows how serious they are about getting it right. I suspect the great majority of people to be happy when they finally do post.
 

Chartreuse Wombat

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Taken directly from ABR website

"All ABR exam scoring is criterion referenced, meaning that a passing standard is established in advance of the exam. The exam is not graded on a curve, and there is no set percentage of failures."

If you want to read more about the Angoff method used see the link below.

What is the Angoff Method? - ALTA Language Services

Money sentence

"In the end, using the Angoff Method ensures that the passing grade of a test is determined empirically, which is necessary for a test to be legally defensible."
 

RSAOaky

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With regards to radbio, if they intentionally increased the difficulty of the test then perhaps they should have released a study guide that reflected that difficulty rather than an exact duplicate of one from 4 years ago.
 
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ramsesthenice

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What were the major issues?
No one should answer this in detail since they agreed not to discuss specifics when they took the test.

A lot of it comes down to expectations. These are hard tests and people never know how to feel about them when they leave.

At the end of the day the pass rates are really high and don't fluctuate much from year to year. I really regret saying what I did earlier about pass rates. While I greatly respect the person who shared that information with me, passing on uncorroborated information is still gossip, no matter the source. That wasn't very professional on my part. The stability of the pass rates over the years really does suggest that the ABR adheres pretty close to the kind of system they describe on their web site.
 

RSAOaky

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Mods if any of this violates any rules please feel free to delete it. Without getting into specifics, it felt very molecular biology heavy to the point that it barely touched upon or even completely left out large topics in radiation biology. It was minutiae heavy. Many questions felt like they were deliberately designed so that people who knew the answer would still get them wrong, or even if you knew the core concept you had to understand a minor nuance to get the question correct.

We are not radiation biologists. We never will be and we'll never need to be. Radiation biology has a fairly minimal impact on our day to day life as radiation oncologists with the exception of a handful of concepts that we really only need to know superficially. The exam should test these concepts to the level that we need to know/understand them, not to the level of someone with a PhD in cancer biology. It's ok to have a test with a high pass rate. If someone feels a need to weed out radonc residents then we should stop adding residency positions rather than failing people who don't know all the details of an obscure molecular pathway. Why should the standard to pass these exams should change from one year to the next?

We are all intelligent people. At this point we all know how to study, we all know how to take exams, and I see no reason that anyone who prepared for this exam and used the study material released by our organizing body should walk out unsure if they passed.
 

PruritisAni

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Mods if any of this violates any rules please feel free to delete it. Without getting into specifics, it felt very molecular biology heavy to the point that it barely touched upon or even completely left out large topics in radiation biology. It was minutiae heavy. Many questions felt like they were deliberately designed so that people who knew the answer would still get them wrong, or even if you knew the core concept you had to understand a minor nuance to get the question correct.

We are not radiation biologists. We never will be and we'll never need to be. Radiation biology has a fairly minimal impact on our day to day life as radiation oncologists with the exception of a handful of concepts that we really only need to know superficially. The exam should test these concepts to the level that we need to know/understand them, not to the level of someone with a PhD in cancer biology. It's ok to have a test with a high pass rate. If someone feels a need to weed out radonc residents then we should stop adding residency positions rather than failing people who don't know all the details of an obscure molecular pathway. Why should the standard to pass these exams should change from one year to the next?

We are all intelligent people. At this point we all know how to study, we all know how to take exams, and I see no reason that anyone who prepared for this exam and used the study material released by our organizing body should walk out unsure if they passed.
Fair points, especially the last paragraph. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that our organizing body is not the one who writes the exam. Perhaps therein lies the problem? I do feel we should have our own boarding agency since the divorce of diagnostic and therapeutic training. I'm sure we aren't the primary focus of the board and are mostly an afterthought.
 
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Sheldor

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Many questions felt like they were deliberately designed so that people who knew the answer would still get them wrong, or even if you knew the core concept you had to understand a minor nuance to get the question correct.
I agree with everything you wrote, but this sentence really stood out to me as ringing true. I felt like many of the questions would be on a topic that we all knew would be tested, and yet they would zero in on a minor detail not present in any of our study material to test us on leaving you feeling like you should have known the answer, and yet didn't.
 

WBC45

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I thought the physics was much tougher than the rad bio.
Anyone know what is the worst that happens if you fail? Most people told me it does not affect job prospects. Any ideas?
 

radiadouken

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I thought the physics was much tougher than the rad bio.
Anyone know what is the worst that happens if you fail? Most people told me it does not affect job prospects. Any ideas?
Should not affect your job prospects.... no one asked me last year if I passed rad bio/physics on interviews. If you don't pass rad bio/physics, you can retake them at the end of your chief year together with clinicals without any delays in overall board certification process. Painful, but I know folks who have had to do that. However, if you fail clinicals, you will not be able to sit for oral boards until you re-take and pass. I'm anxiously waiting the results of clinicals...
 
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I understand the objective of the assessment and the ABR. I get it, and am thankful for these medical/academic safeguards as they relate to patient health.

However, do the methods/told content (and questions) used to assess residents' knowledge align with the objective (or, let's be honest, even the career)? I can totally understand why someone would want to whistle sue.

Before the exam, the ABR website posted the test average from EACH of the past three years. Now, the ABR website posts the one AVERAGE from the last three years. Smoke and mirrors.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." - Wizard of RadOz


Keeping my fingers crossed!

Go Hawkeyes!
 

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I made this account just to post on radbio.

That exam was very poorly done. The questions were either too easy and simplistic or too hard in reference to everything else available as a study guide or resource, or used ambiguous wording and overly tricky choices such that language, not concepts, were tested. I mean no personal disrespect, but that exam was not designed well.

Let me give you some background. I have years and publications from a wet lab. I love biology, molecular genetics, pathways. Of the two courses I enjoyed studying for radbio and I studied intently. Still have the paper sheet - on the last arro review exam I took, I had 21 wrong out of however many total questions (200 to 250ish)? I knew not only the basic pathways, but the extra paths not in hall but which the Astro or Astro guides devoted whole page explanations to. I thought I would crush his exam. I walked out feeling I failed.

That exam did not test concepts, in my opinion. And the Angla method is flawed when the body of people on the panel are not reasonable. I do not think they wrote the questions with enough consideration, or had people on the panel who wrote exam questions in the past ( I have no inside knowledge). I designed graduate level written exams before. Language needs to be specific and used consistently. Questions are about understanding concepts and not word choices. The radbio exam I took did Not embrace that, while at the same time have 20 or 30 questions so ridiculously easy it was insulting they were included and barely specific to radbio.

If you use the panel method, and they think half the exam should have 95% correct answers, that can set an unreasonably high bar which is not valid. And I respect those who said rad bio was easy- I may be sour grapes, but man I nailed those practice exams and did all of them. Maybe I paid too much attention to little things in the arro guides - but I thought that was the point of them - to supplement hall.

Now again, I could just be a whiny resident, but there is an internal control here. Physics. I am not a physics guy. I do not have a background in physics. I did not particularly like physics studying. Those questions were difficult, but fair, written clearly, with questions focused on concept and not guessing the specificity of language or word choices. I could have failed physics, but I'm not angry about it. The extremely poor way radbio was put together makes me angry.

And there is so much potential for a good rad bio exam. A committee could select papers on recent topics, release them as a guide with some brief overview, and actually teach new and relevant molecular developments or synergistic immune research.

But I am not surprised it is delayed. Completely respect those who say radbio was easy but to me that exam was not well designed and should be looked at by an independent committee ( no personal offense to those who worked on it). It, in my opinion, was mostly an invalid exam.
 
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ramsesthenice

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I made this account just to post on radbio.

That exam was very poorly done. The questions were either too easy and simplistic or too hard in reference to everything else available as a study guide or resource, or used ambiguous wording and overly tricky choices such that language, not concepts, were tested. I mean no personal disrespect, but that exam was not designed well.

Let me give you some background. I have years and publications from a wet lab. I love biology, molecular genetics, pathways. Of the two courses I enjoyed studying for radbio and I studied intently. Still have the paper sheet - on the last arro review exam I took, I had 21 wrong out of however many total questions (200 to 250ish)? I knew not only the basic pathways, but the extra paths not in hall but which the Astro or Astro guides devoted whole page explanations to. I thought I would crush his exam. I walked out feeling I failed.

That exam did not test concepts, in my opinion. And the Angla method is flawed when the body of people on the panel are not reasonable. I do not think they wrote the questions with enough consideration, or had people on the panel who wrote exam questions in the past ( I have no inside knowledge). I designed graduate level written exams before. Language needs to be specific and used consistently. Questions are about understanding concepts and not word choices. The radbio exam I took did Not embrace that, while at the same time have 20 or 30 questions so ridiculously easy it was insulting they were included and barely specific to radbio.

If you use the panel method, and they think half the exam should have 95% correct answers, that can set an unreasonably high bar which is not valid. And I respect those who said rad bio was easy- I may be sour grapes, but man I nailed those practice exams and did all of them. Maybe I paid too much attention to little things in the arro guides - but I thought that was the point of them - to supplement hall.

Now again, I could just be a whiny resident, but there is an internal control here. Physics. I am not a physics guy. I do not have a background in physics. I did not particularly like physics studying. Those questions were difficult, but fair, written clearly, with questions focused on concept and not guessing the specificity of language or word choices. I could have failed physics, but I'm not angry about it. The extremely poor way radbio was put together makes me angry.

And there is so much potential for a good rad bio exam. A committee could select papers on recent topics, release them as a guide with some brief overview, and actually teach new and relevant molecular developments or synergistic immune research.

But I am not surprised it is delayed. Completely respect those who say radbio was easy but to me that exam was not well designed and should be looked at by an independent committee ( no personal offense to those who worked on it). It, in my opinion, was mostly an invalid exam.
Many questions felt like they were deliberately designed so that people who knew the answer would still get them wrong, or even if you knew the core concept you had to understand a minor nuance to get the question correct.

We are not radiation biologists. We never will be and we'll never need to be. Radiation biology has a fairly minimal impact on our day to day life as radiation oncologists with the exception of a handful of concepts that we really only need to know superficially. The exam should test these concepts to the level that we need to know/understand them, not to the level of someone with a PhD in cancer biology. It's ok to have a test with a high pass rate. If someone feels a need to weed out radonc residents then we should stop adding residency positions rather than failing people who don't know all the details of an obscure molecular pathway. Why should the standard to pass these exams should change from one year to the next?

We are all intelligent people. At this point we all know how to study, we all know how to take exams, and I see no reason that anyone who prepared for this exam and used the study material released by our organizing body should walk out unsure if they passed.[/QUOTE]

Try not to worry too much. I was in your boat last year. Same back ground. Same experience. Walking out I felt very confident about physics. It was just like taking a Raphex exam, maybe a little easier. I knew if I was over 70% is should be safe and I felt like I did even better. Bio worried me because I had the mind set (based on the Arro stuff) that I should be getting 75+ percent right and I was very doubtful that happened.

Turns out that I aced the bio and did so/so on the physics. I don't know what the criteria were to pass or do well but obviously they were very different from the Arro tests. Just let this play out. With your background you should be fine.

I hate to burst your bubbles but next year may not be any more pleasant of an experience. Most of the individual questions on the clinical writtens were fair, but as a cohort it was weird collection and very frustrating. You will see what I'm talking about. I studied pretty hard and felt like I was probably 90% confident on at most 50%. But, there were not many super hard questions. I was probably 50/50 on most of the rest. I had been given the impression if you studied this should be a walk in the park. That intel appears to have been no bueno. Reading the test info above it sounds like my experience was probably more inline with what the ABR had in mind.
 
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PruritisAni

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What are ARRO tests? Perhaps that was my advantage. Have no clue what this is and by the sound of it, my ignorance may have been a blessing in disguise
 

lhl

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Why do people think scores are delayed? They were released Aug 26 last year.
 

fiji128

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Just speculation, but Barry Rosenstein from Mount Sinai in NYC used to be in charge of the ABR rad bio exam (or head of that committee), meaning writing questions, selecting questions and figuring out what should be acceptable for a pass. He teaches Rad Bio to most of the NYC area residents and is an exceptional teacher for this materiel. However, I think, he stepped away from the ABR stuff a few years ago and all of this has been handed over to someone else. I think this may explain why the test seems to "feel" different to this year's test takers compared to prior years.
 
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Sheldor

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Why do people think scores are delayed? They were released Aug 26 last year.
Last year they were posted on August 8th, per SDN. (Unless I'm not interpreting this correctly, but they are posting about their scores on August 8th, 2016)

Thoughts on Rad Bio and Physics?

Some people seem to feel that physics was hard too, and the pass rate the last two years was 97% and over, while rad Bio had been hovering ~90%. Very confusing, honestly.
 

domestique

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Results came out exactly 4 weeks after exams last year. There many be a results letter dated Aug 26 but that has nothing to do with the day results were released.
 

BruiservonWillebrand

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I studied intently for the medical oncology exam and all I studied was about 5-FU and how the rationale behind it was a reference in the 40s about increased utilization of thymidine in cancer cells, then about a continuous versus bolus infusion, then an oral pro-drug and can't understand why I did so poorly. Maybe I should not have ignored all of the other concepts in cancer biology and blindly followed an outdated textbook. But who cares? Approximately 90% are going to pass anyway because of some obscure statistical algorithm based on the biases of some collection of leaders in the field.
 

winstonfoot5

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do you get to see what percentile you were in? or any hint as to how well you did relative to everyone? or how strong you are in different sub-categories? etc? or is it just a "pass/fail" statement?
 

WBC45

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do you get to see what percentile you were in? or any hint as to how well you did relative to everyone? or how strong you are in different sub-categories? etc? or is it just a "pass/fail" statement?

It just says "Passed Phys and Bio." I am assuming we will get our percentiles later.
 

CptCrunch

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do you get to see what percentile you were in? or any hint as to how well you did relative to everyone? or how strong you are in different sub-categories? etc? or is it just a "pass/fail" statement?
From what I remember, they sent a letter in the mail a couple months after the results were posted online. Attached to it were the quartile placements for ~5 subcategories. Nothing more detailed than that.
 

thecarbonionangle

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These exams are such a waste of time. The rad bio course is littered with largely outdated, useless, irrelevant information that you just "Have to memorize" and rather quickly forget. The physics portion is also filled with lots of things that are largely clinically irrelevant and dictated by people who are not clinicians. So why do we stand for this? We need to get rid of these courses as they are now.
 
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