This past weekend I submitted the last part of a three series board examination that I started in the second year of medical school. My medical student colleagues know these board examinations too well, given that the first two are considered heavily for residency placement. While the first two are taken in medical school, the last and third part is taken usually in the first or second year of residency depending on the specialty and the program.
So when is the best time to take it? Depending on the program, some residents have days to a week off. Others have a rotation that is not as time-consuming as other rotations and can manage studying during that time. I chose to take my exam at the end of a rotation that had manageable hours. What helped me the most was utilizing question banks and reading from the notes that I had made for my prior two exams. Although I had been removed from medical school for a few months now, I was surprised that I still remembered a good chunk.
Many of the question banks and online resources that are used for board prep are available through phones, iPads, and tablets. I would take my tablet with me and during my downtime and study as much as possible. I also found time in the mornings or in the evening (once my brain was fresh after a run) to study with more questions. Another easy way to remember material is to make flashcards through the various applications out there and use any down-time during clinic or breaks.
It might seem stressful at times but have confidence in yourself that this exam is a combination of material that you have seen in the first two exams in addition to all that you have gained during your first and/or second year of residency. Always go with your first instinct and plan something fun for yourself after you are done!