How Do I Study For Family Medicine Boards?

How Do I Study For Family Medicine Boards?


Preparation results in confidence, and confidence results in success. The simplest thing to reinforce belief before taking a high-stakes test is knowing that you simply have executed a well-designed study plan in which you will be prepared. All one needs to have is a long-term plan starting the first month of residency until the month of the board examination.

In becoming a board-certified family physician, one must pass one of two board examinations: ABOFP (American Board of Osteopathic Family Physicians) or ABFM (American Board of Family Medicine). The structure of both exams is exceptionally similar, with one significant difference. The ABFM examination has an optional OMT practical exam (previously required) additionally to the written cognitive exam.

The family medicine board certification examination is provided to board-eligible physicians and board-certified physicians requiring recertification. If completed, the physician will become board certified. For the ABFM, the physician is going to be certified for the subsequent ten years and will require to be re-certified before the expiration date. For the ABFM, the physician will be certified for eight years and will need to be recertified before the expiration date.

The ABFM examination is a 450 minutes long and 400 question (multiple choice) examination with one 30 minute break (must be outside of the examination building during this time). The ABFM examination is a 380-minute exam with an optional 100 minutes of pooled break time that may be employed in between each section of the examination. There are 300 questions (multiple choice) for this test.

It’s recommended to start studying 9 to 12 months before the exam. Other medical educators and experienced test takers accept as accurate this time frame. But they concede that, realistically, many physicians start a bit later. You should consider starting by doing two things:

  • First, choose the materials you will use for your preparation, such as abfm practice questions.
  • Then make a specific plan and time commitment for studying.

Whether you’re a year from exam time or merely a couple of weeks away, it’s never too early or late to conceive of a plan for ABFM exam prep.

The ABFM suggests downloading and taking abfm practice questions designed for residency programs, then using your results to begin a study plan. The ABFM also offers these study time recommendations based on how you fare on the abfm practice questions:

  • If you score quite 60 points below passing, aim to study for one hour, three times every week for three months, for a complete 36 hours.
  • If you score between 10 and 50 points below passing, study for one hour, twice every week for two months.
  • If you score at or above passing, study for one hour, twice every week for one month.

The ABFM notes that 36 hours, done in one-hour study sessions (the first bullet above), is more straightforward than six study sessions of 6 hours each.

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The latter is considered less fruitful and inefficient. The ABFM suggests committing to studying a minimum of two days per week.

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