Tips for Preparing for Boards Part I

When did you start preparing for boards?

My initial approach to passing Boards Part I was to do as well as possible in the classes that covered the material in the first place. Therefore, when I went to study I was filling in knowledge gaps rather than teaching myself entire subjects. I studied a lot more as boards approached, but the studying I did in the months before the exam built on a 2-year academic foundation.  At NYCPM, our second year runs through the summer which allows us to take more time off before the boards in the Spring of our second year. I studied about 2-4 hours a day for approximately 3 months prior to the board exam. In the three weeks prior to the exam I logged closer to 4-8 hours a day.

What materials do you recommend using?

I used First Aid, which is a book geared toward passing USMLE 1 (MD/DO Boards Part I). First Aid divides the bulk of the material into organ systems (i.e. cardiology contains the following sections: anatomy, pathophysiology, pathology, pharmacology, etc). Sometimes covering as little as 5-10 pages a day, I slogged through it. I also skipped around a lot: for example I spent one week studying the pharm sections only. It is a flexible book with more than enough information… Except for LEAN. First Aid is woefully insufficient when it come to LEAN. I used a couple of sources, but mainly focused on the material I received from my LEAN teacher at NYCPM, Dr. Dykyj. LEAN is incredibly important for passing boards. It encompases the largest section of the test (30%) and must be known for all other success in podiatry. Therefore look at Boards Part I prep as an opportunity to aster

LEAN. The other source I used a lot was SketchyMicro for infectious disease. SketchyMicro has a suite of short, fun videos that taught me everything I needed to know about infectious disease. 

Overall my advice is to limit the number of sources from which you study. There is a vast array of material out there and it is easy to get lost in finding the perfect source. The best source is the one from which you actually sit down and study.

Did you make a study plan?

My friends and I made a study plan together. We were all going to study the same material individually Monday through Friday and get together on the weekends and go over it as a group. It was a great plan, but we did not stick to it. Not even once. It showed me that I needed to adapt to study in a more realistic way. When I began studying I wanted to cover everything I had been exposed to during the two years prior. This was just not possible for me. What I wound up doing, especially as the date of the exam got nearer and nearer, was study high-yield material, focusing on LEAN (30% of the exam), Pharm (15% of the exam), and INDI (15% of the exam).  I would still advise anyone to make a plan and start early, but do not be discouraged if the plan goes out the window. Scrap it and make a new plan that hits the most relevant information. The worst case scenario is being perfectionistic and spending all your time on some esoteric subject when you have not mastered the basics.

In a nutshell:

  •  Learn as much as possible in school; this will reduce the pressure to fill in as many knowledge gaps when studying boards
  • Limit the number and variety of study materials especially for subjects other than LEAN
  • Focus on the most tested subjects (LEAN, pharm, and indi) and adjust your study plan as often as needed


 Jay Emlen, IPED Member New York College of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2018