When should you start studying?

Depending on who you ask, you can get a variety of responses to the appropriate time to begin studying. When I was preparing for Part 2, I remember being told a study benchmark “Two months for Part 1, two weeks for Part 2 and two days for Part 3”. While I would agree, Part 2 required less specifically committed time than Part 1, the dynamics of the exam are different. Since so much of 3rd and 4th year are spent out on clerkships you are forced to prepare without even knowing it. Keeping up with journal articles, preparing for surgical cases and giving monthly presentations provide study pit-stops along the way.

However, the responsibility and time commitment associated with clerkships can take away from study schedules as the Part 2 exam approaches. Around mid-November, I made a concerted effort to prepare for Part 2. This left me a solid 6 weeks to prepare which I felt was ample time given my strong base of knowledge.

Do my clerkships prepare me for Boards Part 2?

The short answer, unfortunately, is no. Experiences on clerkships can certainly provide a solid base of knowledge but simply getting through clerkships and understanding the practical world of podiatry is NOT the same as knowing the textbook answers you’ll need to pass your second boards exam.

What should you use to study?

Studying for Boards Part 1 was grueling and time-intensive but it was at least easier to determine what content needed to be reviewed prior to sitting down for the $1000 test. I, like many of my classmates, utilized Step 1 First Aid with Doctors in Training videos (DIT) for Part 1 but was unsure where to turn for the expansive and seemingly vague nature of Part 2.

My first step in determining what to study was reviewing the APMLE website for the Exam Content Outline to guide my studying. The main topic areas include Medicine, Medical Imaging, Biomechanics/Sports Medicine, Anesthesia/Surgery, and Jurisprudence/Research/Public Health. Like I said, pretty vague subject areas.

The most important advice I can give is choose the sources you will need for each topic area early on in your study phase (most require only 1 source, some may need a combination) and STICK TO THOSE. While you get closer and closer to the exam, you will hear about countless other sources or guides that other classmates have used for their exams but please realize it is impossible (and unneeded) to review them all. The biggest mistake you can make in preparing for this exam is drowning yourself in study material. You will hit a point where you are no longer increasing your base knowledge and that should be your cue to quit while you are ahead. Here is a list of the materials I used and the applicable subject areas:

  • Medicine – Presby Manual
  • Podiatry – “Pocket Podiatrics” by Leon Watkins
  • “Handbook of Lower Extremity Infections” by Warren Joseph
  • Medical Imaging – Presby Manual + School Notes/Board review for radiology
  • Biomechanics – School Notes/Board review for Biomechanics
  • Anesthesia/Surgery – Preby Manual
  • Jurisprudence/Research/Public Health – No specific material used


**These are by no means the “right materials” and there really is no such thing. Everyone has different study habits and learns in different ways so try to find what works best for you.

Do you need to prioritize? Boards vs Interviews

The best part about the close proximity of these two important life events is that getting smart for Boards has a dual function of preparing you for interviews as well. There are some items and tools that are specific for interviews and good to go over prior to that week (PRISM, case study practice, classification systems, oral skills, social questions, etc) but for the most part, all of your prep for Boards can be quickly applied during any interview.

I found while I was prepping for this all important week, I focused much more on preparing for interviews rather than specifically for Boards. While doing any sit-down studying I practiced stating things out loud to get myself comfortable talking about podiatry. Another helpful resource I used were the ACFAS podcasts which again helped me to get in the mindset of intelligent conversations about podiatry and patient care. Hope these tips are helpful.

Good luck!

Paul Smith, PGY-1, IPED Member

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago IL

SCPM Valedictorian Class of 2016