Test Taking Skills


test taking menu.

Introduction

What does it take?

Examinations for medical licensing and specialty boards are well-constructed so that knowledge and reasoning are tested, not ability to take tests with flawed items. Therefore, the term "test taking skills" refers to standard methods for doing the best job possible by understanding how test questions are constructed and how those questions are best approached.

A key point to remember is this: medicine is mostly analog, not digital. There are gradations of possible to improbable in all human interactions, but rarely are there absolutes in medicine. The human body is too complex to obtain all possible information. You must always go with the best possible choice with the limited information you have at one point in time. Your opinion may change based upon outcomes and further data acquisition. Hence, examination questions that mimic real-life situations are worded to ask for the "most likely" answer, not any possible answer. One answer is better than others, but the others are not entirely improbable.

At increasingly higher levels of training, the possible answers for a question move closer together. Novice students may be asked on a question to distinguish a cephalosporin from other antibiotic drugs in different classes. Resident trainees may be asked a question to distinguish different generations of cephalosporins. Expert fellows and specialists may be asked by a question to distinguish between 4th generation cephalosporins.

The level of difficulty for testing in medical school always increases. We could dumb it down to artificially elevate the scores, but there is a price to pay, eventually. If it were so easy that anybody could do it, then anybody would do it, and you wouldn't have a career.


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