All reviews below are purely opinion. Every physician’s mind works a bit differently so if you find a better strategy than the ones below, feel free to let us know and we’ll add it as well. Again, these are only OPINIONS. Read them as such. If you fail the inservice/board exam, it is not our fault; its yours.
I have not received any persuasion or money from any of the companies that produce any of the materials below. The reviews and opinions are strictly my colleagues and my own.
Of all the past residents and physicians I have asked about their studying strategy, the most common answer was to do questions, questions, and more questions. It seems most become quite cozy with one particular question book and read it front to back. They wouldn’t just do the questions and glance over the answers either. They would do every question and then go through the answers, particularly the ones they missed, with a fine-tooth comb to understand why they missed it. A few suggested going over the wrong answers as well trying to understand why they were wrong and what might be altered on the question stem to make them right.
There are a quite a few question books available. The ones below are the top suggested readings. If you have another one you liked, please let me know and I’ll add it.
The latest addition, which just came out in 2011, has 450 questions. The book is produced by ACEP and seems to be the most widely used question bank available. At bare minimum, you should at least go through all the questions in the book once. The questions seem to be very much in line with difficulty and topics that the actual inservice/board uses. If you feel like you know the material and don’t want to study too hard, I would at least go with PEER VIII.
PEER VIII also has several different methods of doing the questions from just an online question bank to daily/weekly emails with questions. I prefer just the book format (since every format is priced individually), though I have heard the email format was a good way to review the material throughout the year. Price is $275 for non-members and $185 for members. High Recommendation.
1200 Questions to Help You Pass the Emergency Medicine Boards
The second addition just came out in 2012 with now…you guessed it, 1200 questions. Includes access to the same questions in quiz format online as well. The questions are slightly more difficult than PEER VIII and the actual exam which can be good (makes you really know the material and details) and bad (frustrating the amount of questions you get wrong the first time). Answers are very detailed. There isn’t any easy way to review a specific topic except for searching the index. Many previous residents who did well on the exam recommend this book. Price is $50 thru Amazon. High Recommendation.
PEER VII or similar older books
Most questions from older books are fine. The books are cheap or hand-me-downs and you save a few bucks. The problem is some of the answers can be dated to the point that you might miss a few points of the exam if you rely on their data. One prime example of this is ACLS guidelines. These things seem to change every 5 years or so and I noticed when going through old question books their answers would be wrong in the present. Be careful when using these books as your main reference for material. Peer VII is out of print, ask around to see if someone has a spare copy. Be careful.
On top of question banks, some physicians also recommend a review book as well to help prep for the exam. When doing these video podcasts as well as studying myself, I would review a chapter of the book and then do questions from the question books related to that chapter. I would then highlight or add into the margins notes pertaining to the questions I just did. This way when I reviewed the chapter again, I would also be able to focus on the topics/facts that seem to be appear more often on questions.
Be careful with purely studying with review books throughout the rest of the year after the exam. Though they do seem thorough in going through all the topics, they definitely are not complete and shouldn’t be your definitive text for emergency medicine. Leave that up to Tintinalli, Rosen, or UptoDate. The books below are the only ones that were recommended to me from other physicians and myself. If there are others available that you found to be very useful, please let me know.
AAEM Emergency Medicine: A Focused Review of the Core Curriculum
This is the book I recommend for studying. It does seem thicker than other review books available, but its content is definitely more thorough and I found easier to read than others. Chapters are broken down into sections. The chapters themselves do not have any pictures, but there is a color picture section in the back. Its all bullet points-style writing with several tables breaking down topics in each chapter. For bonus, theres a 1-2 page summary ‘cheatsheet’ for each chapter in the back as well as a 250 question practice test as well formatted very similar to the actual inservice. To purchase the book, you have to buy it through the AAEM site which can be a bit of a pain in the arse. Prices are $90 for non-members and $50 for members. High Recommendation.
First Aid for the Emergency Medicine Board
This edition of First Aid is just like every other First Aid book out there. If you’re familiar with the style of writing from review books during medical school and liked it, then this is basically the same thing. Bullet-point style writing with black-white pictures in each chapter. There is a rapid review style facts at the back of the book to review close to the exam. Compared to the AAEM book, its a shorter review. Its not a bad book and out of all the physicians asked, it was the top recommended book. If you need a book for reference for when reviewing questions/videos, this might be a good option. Personally, if I had to pick one, I would choose the AAEM book. Price is $72 on Amazon. Medium Recommendation.
Ohio ACEP Audio CDs
There’s two version of the audio CDs. One is the long-track and one is the fast-track. I have heard from a few residents/physicians who have purchased this or gone to the Ohio ACEP board review conference and thought it was great. I have a feeling its alot like Rosetta Stone. Once you purchase it for the steep price that it is, you’ll love it and thinks its the greatest resource ever. It is quite the high price though and I’m guessing you can get by without it for all the other resources out there available. This seems to be the best audio-only resource available though so if that’s a must, you might give this a try. $505 for Long Track and $218 for Fast Track. Medium Recommendation, though steep price.
Rivers Preparing for the Written Board Review
I have only heard about this review book. Published by Ohio ACEP. Review book with 500 questions included. I have not reviewed it myself, so I can’t vouch for the content. I have heard good and bad opinions on it. Price wise, it is steeper than other resources out there. Again, if the others don’t work for you, you might give this one a try. Please let me know if you have read this one and what you’re thoughts are on it. $200 for residents, $400 for physicians. Lower Recommendation.
Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: Just the Facts
Just got this recommended to add to the site. If you’re a fan of Tintinalli (which I am; especially the newest edition), you’ll probably like this review. Basically its a condensed down version of the big red book. I don’t think it has any review questions, but I’m guessing the vast majority of ABEM board questions are taken from the main book. $65. Lower Recommendation.
High Yield Emergency Medicine
Again, I have only heard about this book. Authored by the same guys that do the Intraining Prep online course (see below). I have heard some good reviews of the book and it’s probably in line with the AAEM book as far as quality. Does have sideline notes on each page that are better than First Aid’s attempt at ‘need-to-know’ material. The problem with the book is the price compared with others available. $250. Lower Recommendation.
Other Online Study Resources
Emergency Medicine Inservice Review – Excellent quick review done by David Pierce of University of Buffalo. Video powerpoint style presentation. Does not cover everything, but definitely is an excellent source to review the week before the inservice/board exam. FREE. High Recommendation. Now available on this site and on our Podcast. Thanks David!
RoshReview.com – Online ABEM style question bank of over 1000 questions. Best priced question bank available right now. I was given a free trial (take that with what you will), but I was very impressed with the questions and answer stems. Better than 1200 questions, in-line or better than PEER. Only problem is its a subscription service so you only get it temporarily. $100 for a month or $200 for a year. High Recommendation.
IntrainingPrep.com – Video powerpoint style presentation. “Guarantees” you’ll pass, or you’ll get your money back. I have heard some good things about this review. There is a free trial available for viewing the format for how they present. $50, so from what I’ve heard, not bad for the price. Medium Recommendation.
Emergency Medicine Weapon – Appears to be an online Q-bank with the same testing format as the ABEM inservice exam. Basically takes all the questions literally from “1200 Questions to Help You Pass the Emergency Medicine Boards” and puts it in a computer test format. Its not a bad idea and if the questions weren’t already in a paper book format, it probably wouldn’t be a bad option. For one month of access, it costs $70. Lower Recommendation.
Med-Challenger EM – Basically is an ‘all-inclusive’ package much like the other Big Guns are below. Includes material and questions to use throughout the year in preparation of the exam. Has CME available as well. Prices range from $1000 to $6000 for lifetime package. Lower Recommendation.
Board Vitals - Just got this as a recommendation. Done by Lippincott, I haven’t checked it out myself, but it states it has over 1500 questions for review. Knowing that Lippincott publishes the “1200 Questions” book, I would think the majority of the questions come from there. Don’t quote me on it though. 1 month is $100. I’ll pass. Lower Recommendation.
The Big Guns
So if you’re still concerned about passing the exam and really feel like the ‘full experience’ is what you want, there are a few very good conferences available. These are ‘all-inclusive’ in the sense that they include a live lecture conference, usually online review videos, and supplemental audio/paper materials. The price tags on any of these is pretty steep, but from what I’ve heard about them, you pay for what you get. Some people swear by these. Like I said, if you go through the material and question banks and still feel like you need something else to help out, these may be what you need.
HippoEM - Just launched in April 2013, the guys behind EM:Rap have created a premium (i.e. high price range) comprehensive board review site. Videos usually run 15-20minutes a piece and cover every subject the EM board covers. Includes currently just over 500 questions for preparation as well. Compared to the other board review courses of similar price range, I imagine this one probably would be preferred by most. 20% discount for EM:Rap subscribers as well. $800-1100 depending on package or $640 the cheapest with the EM:RAP discount. High Recommendation.
National Emergency Medicine Board Review Course - 4 days, 40 hours of lectures, a syllabus (review book), audio lectures, flash cards. Done in DC and Las Vegas. Can buy the audio or video lectures separately. $700 for resident pricing or audio lectures, $900 for physician pricing or video pricing. I have heard a few residents/physicians recommend this option.
Ohio ACEP Emergency Medicine Board Review Course – 3 or 5 day course done in Columbus, Ohio. Includes review book, access to questions, previous videos. Like the NEMBR, I have heard a few residents/physicians recommend this option as well. $800 for residents, $900 for physicians for Long Track, $450/resident and $520/physician for Fast Track. Audio CDs only are about $300 cheaper in price for each Track as mentioned above.
New to the scene are iPhone/iPad apps. In the last year while of residency, I found I used a few of these alot in my spare time between patients or between conference lectures (ok, during boring lectures as well.)
1200 Questions to Help You Pass The Boards - Basically the mobile version of the book. Tried, liked it. The app is ‘free’ and includes around 30 questions for free. To get the rest of the questions, you have to buy the ‘in-app’ purchase which is $50. Available in both iPhone and iPad versions. Disadvantages: It doesnt include topic sections so all question topics are random. Also doesn’t do a very good job on telling you your weakness. I would still recommend this app over PEER VIII, though consider going with Rosh Review if you have a month left to review. $50. High Recommendation.
PEER VIII - Takes questions straight from the ABEM PEER VIII question book and puts it in a mobile multiple choice interface. Its a big buggy at times with pictures, but thats too be expected with puting large pictures with the question stem on a smartphone. Its a big expensive right now, but last year for a week, it was $5 which was a no-brainer. If you have the cash, I would still recommended it. $40. Medium Recommendation.
Rosh Review – Basically is the mobile version of the website. Has over 1000 questions. Probably best mobile question bank app available. Allows you to select particular topics or questions you’ve missed. Gives you an overview of how you will likely do on the test and how you compare to the national average for the site. Disadvantages: Its subscription based, so you don’t get to keep the questions forever unlike PEER or 1200 questions. That’s really the only flaw for it compared to the others. $100 for 1 month. High Recommendation.
Lightning Review for the EM Boards - Just got this recommended to me. Have not tried it myself. Looks free, but you have to purchase the questions ‘in-app’ which is really $50. In a flashcard type format. Looks like it has the potential to be good. Let me know if you think otherwise. $50. Lower Recommendation.
Other Free Resources
Code 3 Spots Board Review Questions – 30 questions on the website. Some are good, some are bad. Its free, so can’t complain.
If you have any references you have used which are helpful, please comment below.