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Greetings everyone,

I recently learned that unfortunately I'm part of the 2% that didn't pass the ABEM oral board. In the end, I had an idea that it would happen as I couldn't finish two case as I forgot to pay much attention to the time sometimes, even though I recognize the medicine part was not that difficult. I'll buckle up and prepare better the next time.

I'm worried that now I'm on a wait-list to take the exam again and I can't find much information anywhere on how the process works. Do one usually waits for a year or two, or is there usually a space available in the next cycle after being wait-listed? Does ABEM communicate with you months or days before the exam, by phone or email or at the ABEM website? I'm starting a critical care fellowship next month and I'm worried that this might affect me if I don't take and pass the oral board soon. And I don't know anybody that knows others who have failed the oral board to give me more information, I'm hoping this forum may help me. It's a very deflating feeling.

Thank you.
 

gro2001

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Greetings everyone,

I recently learned that unfortunately I'm part of the 2% that didn't pass the ABEM oral board. In the end, I had an idea that it would happen as I couldn't finish two case as I forgot to pay much attention to the time sometimes, even though I recognize the medicine part was not that difficult. I'll buckle up and prepare better the next time.

I'm worried that now I'm on a wait-list to take the exam again and I can't find much information anywhere on how the process works. Do one usually waits for a year or two, or is there usually a space available in the next cycle after being wait-listed? Does ABEM communicate with you months or days before the exam, by phone or email or at the ABEM website? I'm starting a critical care fellowship next month and I'm worried that this might affect me if I don't take and pass the oral board soon. And I don't know anybody that knows others who have failed the oral board to give me more information, I'm hoping this forum may help me. It's a very deflating feeling.

Thank you.
Make sure you don't delay things too long due to fellowship as your board eligibility period is 5 years after residency completion.

How did you prepare? Did you practice cases with someone using the Okuda book? It's probably important to figure out what you are going to do differently to prepare for the next time.
 

Birdstrike

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Eliminate the EM oral boards, now. It doesn't test anything important and does nothing but generate money for ABEM. We have enough to ---k with our heads already and don't need this crap. And I say this as someone who tests extremely well and passed this test on the first attempt. It's abusive garbage. ABEM has nowhere to hide on this.
 
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GonnaBeADoc2222

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I second Okuda book (which I assume you did?) and some kind of a review course for 2nd attempt.

Do not tell ANYONE. Employers, friends, would be "mentors." It's really none of their business as long as you pass within the 5 years.

The other downside though (specifically regarding employers) is that I've seen questions on credentialing and licensing applications specifically asking about failure of board exams. Shouldn't be an issue if you're honest I would imagine.

Sorry this is happening to you OP. However, this should be a tale of caution for 1st time test takers. The Oral is really not difficult, but you need learn the game. In all honesty, Okuda should be sufficient for this. If you practiced the format in residency, an expensive review course shouldn't be necessary. Take the exam seriously.
 

Backpack234

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A friend of mine failed the exam a few years ago. Said he/she did lots of prep and felt good, but ended up failing by only a couple of points.

The big issue they ran into was being skipped for the next session. Seemed like new grads got priority over those with previously failed attempts. Ended up getting in to the following session and again felt very strongly that they failed. But they didn’t. And now it’s all water under the bridge.

I don’t know if there was a lot of communication from ABEM but I’ll ask my friend and see. I didn’t dig to deep asking questions. It sounded like he had to stay on top of it as opposed to them holding his hand through the process.

But remember, you’re not the only one who’s failed. And you’re given multiple attempts. The good news for you is that you’ve already identified the issue and it’s something you can definitely fix on a second attempt.

This was enough to encourage me to sign up for the aaem course. Except when I signed up I saw there’s only 20ish spots per weekend. So now I feel like studying for that!

Don’t worry. Take the L and process it but plan ahead and you’ll do better next time.
 

Birdstrike

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Greetings everyone,

I recently learned that unfortunately I'm part of the 2% that didn't pass the ABEM oral board. In the end, I had an idea that it would happen as I couldn't finish two case as I forgot to pay much attention to the time sometimes, even though I recognize the medicine part was not that difficult. I'll buckle up and prepare better the next time.

I'm worried that now I'm on a wait-list to take the exam again and I can't find much information anywhere on how the process works. Do one usually waits for a year or two, or is there usually a space available in the next cycle after being wait-listed? Does ABEM communicate with you months or days before the exam, by phone or email or at the ABEM website? I'm starting a critical care fellowship next month and I'm worried that this might affect me if I don't take and pass the oral board soon. And I don't know anybody that knows others who have failed the oral board to give me more information, I'm hoping this forum may help me. It's a very deflating feeling.

Thank you.
Know that failing this test has no bearing on your worth as an EM physician. You'll pass it. It's just a matter of playing the game. Spend some money, take a course, do mock oral exams until you're blue in the face. You'll pass it eventually and then it will be in the past and never matter again.
 

hundreddaysoff

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Greetings everyone,

I recently learned that unfortunately I'm part of the 2% that didn't pass the ABEM oral board. In the end, I had an idea that it would happen as I couldn't finish two case as I forgot to pay much attention to the time sometimes, even though I recognize the medicine part was not that difficult. I'll buckle up and prepare better the next time.

I'm worried that now I'm on a wait-list to take the exam again and I can't find much information anywhere on how the process works. Do one usually waits for a year or two, or is there usually a space available in the next cycle after being wait-listed? Does ABEM communicate with you months or days before the exam, by phone or email or at the ABEM website? I'm starting a critical care fellowship next month and I'm worried that this might affect me if I don't take and pass the oral board soon. And I don't know anybody that knows others who have failed the oral board to give me more information, I'm hoping this forum may help me. It's a very deflating feeling.

Thank you.
Sorry to hear. FWIW, pass rate this year was only 94%. Are you getting it manually rescored? Can't hurt.
 
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GeneralVeers

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To make money for ABEM. There is no other reason.
Who makes these decisions? Who runs ABEM? It's kind of like the creepy control program on Logan's Run. Everyone assumes a person is in charge, but in reality it's a giant computer forcing people to their deaths....

I can't think of one EM physician who believes oral boards are a good idea. Why do we do this?
 

Birdstrike

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I can't think of one EM physician who believes oral boards are a good idea. Why do we do this?
Don't want board certification?
Fine. Don't get board certification.
But you can't work.

It's sort of like a Mafia protection racket.
Why do you have to pay the Mafia for protection?
You don't have to, but if you don't, the Mafia will break your knee caps.
 
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Groove

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If you failed this exam, you didn’t prep. Plain and simple. It’s no reflection on you as a physician or even your medical knowledge. You just didn’t take time to prepare for “the game”. Take AAEMs review course a few weeks before you take the next one. It was a life saver for me. I’m pretty sure I would have failed if I didn’t take it. I doubt anyone in your CC fellowship would care and honestly, as someone else said...it’s none of their business so don’t tell unless someone asks you directly. In the grand scheme of things, nobody (in EM at least) really cares that you failed the orals once. Don’t sweat it, you’ll do better next time.
 

DO3

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One other piece of advice to the first-time test takers...there’s a lot of talk about how stupid this exam is, how this shouldn’t even be a thing, etc.. I don’t think there’s much of anyone who disagrees with that. Even in residency, we always heard from our attendings about how ridiculous it was. For me at least, when preparing, it was hard for me to beat that mindset. It made it very hard for me to appropriately prepare. Even during the exam itself, I had to fight against the refrain of how stupid the exam is. That’s why I took a course, to force myself to prepare appropriately. The fact is, this exam is currently part of our board certification process, whether you like it or not. Telling yourself how stupid this exam is or hearing from others how stupid this exam is doesn’t change the fact that this is a requirement and that you have to pass it to become board certified. So my advice, is to block out all those negative thoughts about this exam, prepare appropriately, and have the mindset that you are going to ace the thing. Listening to all the other noise will only hurt you and make things more difficult. Just my two cents.
 

Birdstrike

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One other piece of advice to the first-time test takers...there’s a lot of talk about how stupid this exam is, how this shouldn’t even be a thing, etc.. I don’t think there’s much of anyone who disagrees with that. Even in residency, we always heard from our attendings about how ridiculous it was. For me at least, when preparing, it was hard for me to beat that mindset. It made it very hard for me to appropriately prepare. Even during the exam itself, I had to fight against the refrain of how stupid the exam is. That’s why I took a course, to force myself to prepare appropriately. The fact is, this exam is currently part of our board certification process, whether you like it or not. Telling yourself how stupid this exam is or hearing from others how stupid this exam is doesn’t change the fact that this is a requirement and that you have to pass it to become board certified. So my advice, is to block out all those negative thoughts about this exam, prepare appropriately, and have the mindset that you are going to ace the thing. Listening to all the other noise will only hurt you and make things more difficult. Just my two cents.
This post really nails it on the head and says what the rest of us should have been saying. Our opinions on the test have no bearing on the fact that it's just as important to pass as any other mega-exam we've ever taken and we must prepare for it just as aggressively as any of the others. And the fact that it's so much different than any of the others we've taken, makes it much more dangerous.
 
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GonnaBeADoc2222

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This post really nails it on the head and says what the rest of us should have been saying. Our opinions on the test have no bearing on the fact that it's just as important to pass as any other mega-exam we've ever taken and we must prepare for it just as aggressively as any of the others. And the fact that it's so much different than any of the others we've taken, makes it much more dangerous.
Honestly though, for the first time test takers out there, Okuda is very sufficient. Don't feel like you have to shovel money into the test prep industry's pocket out of fear of failing
 
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DeadCactus

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The Okuda book is sufficient but some people benefit from being forced into a structured review process. You're not paying $1k-2k for any novel insight, you're paying it to have someone sit you down on a dedicated weekend and force you to seriously run through an adequate preparatory process. For some people, that's a ridiculous waste of money. For others, it's a smart investment. You have to be honest with yourself.
 
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hundreddaysoff

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Honestly though, for the first time test takers out there, Okuda is very sufficient. Don't feel like you have to shovel money into the test prep industry's pocket out of fear of failing
Problem with Okuda is there's no triples. And AFAICT triples now count for over half the final score.

I happened to not get any triples during the mock orals in residency, so first time I had them was during my actual exam. Kinda threw me for a loop at first.
 

TooMuchResearch

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Problem with Okuda is there's no triples. And AFAICT triples now count for over half the final score.

I happened to not get any triples during the mock orals in residency, so first time I had them was during my actual exam. Kinda threw me for a loop at first.
You can simulate a triple using Okuda if you have a buddy.
 

enalli

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Eliminate the EM oral boards, now. It doesn't test anything important and does nothing but generate money for ABEM. We have enough to ---k with our heads already and don't need this crap. And I say this as someone who tests extremely well and passed this test on the first attempt. It's abusive garbage. ABEM has nowhere to hide on this.
I think there is merit in a test that lets everyone know you can communicate effectively at a professional level. Step 2 CS exists, though, so the EM oral bards are unnecessary.
 

GonnaBeADoc2222

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I agree with a lot of the above. However, my one fear if we all of a sudden self-remove all the board certification steps and USMLE is that it will give the midlevels more ammunition to claim that they are equivalent to us.

I guarantee no mid-level could pass the ABEM written exam and many many would fail the oral. I'm willing to pay a nominal fee to keep that barrier somewhat strong.
 

Brigade4Radiant

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The oral you don’t even communicate with real patients also I would recommend First Aid people say Okuda because that’s the book they have been using but most people get 5–6s so they barely pass.

First Aid gives you sample cases and shows you how to grade them 1-8 which is representative of the real exam.

If Okuda doesn’t work try first Aid they have been doing standardized exams they are good at it.
 
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enalli

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There’s so little chance in a three year residency to evaluate communication that you need to pay ABEM thousands because only they can do it in 1 day?
You could make the exact same point about the written boards. I think the idea of testing communication skills isn't outrageous, especially if we are ok testing book knowledge.

Like I said earlier, though, I think Step 2 CS is sufficient and the ABEM oral boards are unnecessary.
 
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Birdstrike

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You could make the exact same point about the written boards.
Yes you could make the point written boards are necessary after a 3 year residency, multiple in-training exams, multiple medical Step exams and all the exams before that. And you might be right.

But we could argue this for an eternity. The bottom line is that ABEM is our own professional society and they're going to test us and charge us for that testing as many times and as much as we'll let them. If there's no pushback, they'll just keep adding more testing, charging us thousands more dollars each time, nickel-and-diming us on MOC and repeat talking points about how necessary, unique and important each added test or continuing education module is. Agreeing with them little little lambs does nothing but send a signal to test us more, add and charge us for it. On the other hand, pushback works. Some specialties has gotten their Boards to significantly scale back testing, particularly MOC.
 
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enalli

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Yes you could make the point written boards are necessary after a 3 year residency, multiple in-training exams, multiple medical Step exams and all the exams before that. And you might be right.

But we could argue this for an eternity. The bottom line is that ABEM is our own professional society and they're going to test us and charge us for that testing as many times and as much as we'll let them. If there's no pushback, they'll just keep adding more testing, charging us thousands more dollars each time, nickel-and-diming us on MOC and repeat talking points about how necessary, unique and important each added test or continuing education module is. Agreeing with them little little lambs does nothing but send a signal to test us more, add and charge us for it. On the other hand, pushback works. Some specialties has gotten their Boards to significantly scale back testing, particularly MOC.
Totally agree that certification has gone off the rails. I like what I had read about moving toward more frequent, short, low-stakes tests. Now they just need to combine that with the LLSAs, and get rid of the PI thing.