Medical board prep, both for medical students with the USMLE series and physicians gearing up for licensing exams, has come a long way in the past few years. During my pre-medical years, Kaplan was about the only big name in MCAT prep. Through medical school, Kaplan and USMLEWorld were still about the only options around. Today, that landscape has grown greatly, and I’m happy to discuss what I think will be a excellent option for USMLE and board preparation going forward – BoardVitals!
Founded in 2013, BoardVitals helps practitioners prepare for board certification exams, maintenance of certification (MOC), and continuing education requirements, covering more than 30 specialty areas and exams.
With new information uncovered daily, textbooks and medical journals are outdated the moment they are published. It is a necessity for healthcare practitioners to have access to the most relevant, up-to-date information possible – lives depend on it. BoardVitals aims to correct this problem by providing doctors with the most up-to-date medical education materials on the market.
BoardVitals brings together content from major publishers, universities, and top healthcare professionals, creating the largest training ecosystem in medicine. Their contributors are experts from top tier academic and practicing institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Duke, and Mt. Sinai helping us create the best content on the market.
USMLE, COMLEX, NAPLEX, NBDE, NCLEX, and over 30 other medical board exams!
The first thing I noted using BoardVitals was that its Qbank interface is among the more crisp and clean I’ve used. It doesn’t have the typical Qbank dull appearance, but is instead notably fresh and very user-friendly. While other Qbanks take multiple uses to get the hang of the system, BoardVitals is instantly easy to use and navigate.
Creating tests is easy – just choose between “All” “Unanswered” or “Incorrect” and desired question categories (by organ system or principles). Select a review or timed format, pick a total number of questions, and you are ready to go. Because I like to knock out a few questions here or there during my day, I usually choose review mode and include all question categories. As I get closer to exam day – July 2017 for me – I’ll do more timed tests and spend extra time highlighting question categories I didn’t do as well in.
Once in the exam itself, you’ll see questions one-by-one with a scrollable numbered list to the left. Clicking through questions is simple and there is a drop down section for explanations in review mode. You have options to flag certain questions for use later if you wish. Likewise, you can rate, report, or send the questions off to friends for review.
After going through an exam, you submit the entire test for grading – important for comparing your performance with others! Their “performance tab” is infinitely helpful in this regards, allowing you to view your score vs. average peers, along with your percentile rank. This is calculated as whole and also broken down by organ section to highlight areas of necessary improvement.
Individual exams are saved in their own section even after completion and you have the option of going back through old exams to review your score and missed questions. A timeline section keeps track of your exam scores and shows your performance by date helping you to keep track of improvement as you work through multiple tests.
The interface is overall a hands down a winner, and clearly something BoardVitals has prided themselves on.
I’ve done roughly half of the ~900 available questions for the ABA:Advanced exam at this point. I have been pleased with the breath of topics and question content. After multiple In-Training exams, having already passed the ABA-Basic exam, and as well as reflection on the ABA content outline, I am finding the questions on BoardVitals to be hitting the important topics that I need to know and expect on test day.
As for difficulty, I did compare my scoring percentile with another testing Qbank and found them to be within about 5-percentile. The BoardVitals was the higher one, but at this point I would not say I feel it is “easier.” There are a variety of long-stem style questions as well as many shorter, “fact based” questions for testing key memorization points.
If there is a critique of the available questions, it is simply that there are likely more of shorter questions than I would expect to be on the “real” exam. While some may prefer more longer stem questions to more closely resemble what is seen on the exam, I was happy with the quicker questions. These make for faster testing of many key points and overall quicker coverage of material.
An excellent interface as well as questions that are on par with what I’ve seen elsewhere make BoardVitals a true contender in the board exam prep world. I’m happy to recommend #LifeofaMedStudent followers their direction, for a product I’m personally using!
Check out BoardVitals.com for more information!
Disclaimer: BoardVitals is a paid sponsor of #LifeofaMedStudent and a copy of their American Board of Anesthesiology: Advanced Exam was provided free of charge in preparation for this review.