High Yield Topics
The highest yield topics for the Pediatrics Shelf are cardiology, GI, pulmonary, and renal. The lowest yield topics are psychiatry and dermatology. A little under half of the exam is diagnosis, and a little under a third of the exam are mechanism questions dealing with underlying pathophysiology. Management is little more than 10% of the exam.
High Yield Resources
- UWorld (~400)
- Online MedEd (25)
- BRS Pediatrics (20)
- Pre-Test Pediatrics (11)
- NBME Practice shelf
- UT San Antonio High Yield Review
Purpose: NBME style practice questions
There is little reason to explain the utility of UWorld in studying for shelf exams beyond noting that for the Pediatrics Shelf, there are nearly 400 questions which is significantly more than for some of the other shelves. For my Peds shelf in particular, I found UWorld to be extremely useful. While taking my exam, there were a number of questions that I felt were very familiar, due to having seen a variation of them in UWorld.
Purpose: building a foundation
The lectures are freely available online, but if you still find that watching them on 2x is too time consuming, (the lectures for Peds are a bit longer and there are 25 of them), I would at least read the notes and do the practice questions that follow each lecture. This was a great resource for building my foundation in Pediatrics. I actually took a break from doing UWorld at the beginning of my rotation because I kept bombing my question sets. Unlike other rotations in third year, there was no dedicated Peds block in the preclinical years, which meant my foundational knowledge was tenuous at best. Once I finished OnlineMedEd, I was in a far greater position to benefit from UWorld practice questions.
Purpose: reference text; end of chapter questions for improving foundation
It’s a long book (20 chapters, 500+ pages), and even if your goal is to score >90% on your Peds shelf, I don’t know that you need to read it cover to cover. However, I only used BRS to supplement OnlineMedEd lectures; I would complete the questions at the end of the chapter in BRS to correspond with the lecture I completed in OnlineMedEd. This afforded me the opportunity to read through some of the higher yield material in the book. It was also my primary reference to look up information that I was unsure about.
It’s certainly not essential to pass the shelf, but I was hoping to improve my scores, and thought it was an excellent source of additional practice questions for drilling in those high yield details. If nothing else, I would do the practice questions for the aforementioned high yield chapters, cardiology, GI, pulmonary, and renal.
Purpose: additional practice questions, though not NBME style
PreTest was an excellent source of additional practice questions; compared to some of the other PreTest offerings, the Pediatrics one came highly recommended from other third and fourth years alike. While I can’t personally speak to how helpful it was in getting me answers on the actual shelf in the same manner as UWorld, it still provided an excellent review. The first couple of chapters are great for getting diagnosis questions correct, while the remaining 9 chapters do a decent job of drilling in next step and management questions.
NBME Practice Shelf
Purpose: actual NBME questions; predict your score
I would be remiss not to mention the importance of doing practice tests. There are about four offered for each shelf, and if I had the time, I would try to do all four of them, although I must concede that I have yet to manage to do more than two per rotation.
These are going to be the best representation of the kinds of questions you are going to see on your actual shelf exam, because they are written by the same damn people. In other words, you would be a dumbass not to do any practice tests at all. They are an excellent predictor of how I have performed. I have consistently done better on my actual shelf exams than my practice ones, sometimes by as much as ten points.
The struggle is deciding when to take your first practice shelf exam. Often, there is a sense of weariness about how we will perform that leads us to procrastinate on taking them. At the very least, I aim to do the first one two weeks before my exam, and another one the week before. Remember that each practice test is a little less than half the length of an actual shelf. To simulate the actual exam experience, I might also take two practice shelves consecutively two weeks before, and two consecutively one week before. Each practice shelf is 20 bucks which is a small price to pay for getting an inside look into the actual exam.
And while they claim they don’t reuse questions, I have definitely seen similar questions crop up on actual shelves.
Purpose: quick 2 hour high yield review
While not available for all of the shelves, these videos offer a 2-hour review of some of the more high yield topics for the shelf. It was especially helpful for me to view the night before my first practice shelf.