High Yield Topics
As expected, half of the exam is obstetrics and half of the exam is gynecology. Diagnosis is about one-third of the exam; mechanisms are about a third of the exam; a quarter of the exam is management, and health maintenance is up to 20% of the exam.
High Yield Resources
3. Case Files OB/Gyn
OnlineMedEd was at best redundant and therefore, a waste of time, and at worst, provided information which conflicted with other resources. Keep in mind that the creators of OnlineMedEd are not OBs. I worked through half of OnlineMedEd before I gave up on it due to conflicting management recommendations. In retrospect, I would stick with resources designed for the OB/Gyn shelf, and if I could do it again, would skip OnlineMedEd altogether.
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 OB/Gyn Shelf, there are over 250 questions, so take advantage. For my OB/Gyn 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; practice questions
The Association of Professors in Gynecology and Obstetrics created a question bank called uWISE. You should have free access to this resource through your medical school’s library. It offers over 500 practice questions on over 50 different topics, (10 questions per topic). There are companion videos on most of the topics available for free on YouTube. I watched the videos (less than 10 minutes each) as a primer, and did the 10 practice questions which accompany them in uWISE (not every topic in the question bank has an accompanying video). Keep in mind the practice questions go into much more depth than the videos, the latter of which are intended to be fairly basic.
NB: I kept track of which questions I got wrong as I went through the sets, as you cannot go back and review which questions you got wrong after you complete a set; you only have the option of starting the questions over again. This is difficult to articulate, but it will quickly become apparent once you do your first question set.
NB: There are several comprehensive exams at the end of the APGO uWISE question bank; keep in mind that the questions which appear in these exams are recycled from the previous 50+ topics, and are presented in a random order simply for review. I did the questions in order, and am planning on potentially using the comprehensive exams to review for Step 2. If you are unable to get through all the practice questions in the individual topics, you may want to consider doing the comprehensive exams to prepare for your shelf. Otherwise, it may be a waste of time to do questions you’ve already seen before.
Case Files OB/Gyn
Purpose: review text with high yield clinical pearls, practice questions
This was the only Case Files text I used this year. I did not read it cover to cover, but worked through the cases, did the practice questions at the end of each case, and read through the clinical pearls. I did not read the meat of the text after each case. While not absolutely essential, this was a good resource for me to review the week before the exam; I especially found the clinical pearls useful.
Purpose: reference text
This was the text we used during OB/Gyn in our preclinical years, and I found it was a good reference when I was confused about the management of patients. For example, there are some great algorithms which can help when figuring out how to manage patients with different pap results.
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 wariness 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.