M5 Engram: 01.2016

ABA In-training Exam

The annual ITE can be a source of a great deal of anxiety for residents as the use of the ITE has expanded far beyond its initial purpose of providing feedback for examinees preparing for the Anesthesiology Boards to now being used (technically inappropriately) for good-standing in residency, fellowship applications, and now some private practice groups are inquiring about ITE scores as well. The ITE is scored in three different ways: overall score, basic score and advanced score. Each score is given as a scaled score and a national percentile. The traditional rule-of-thumb has been a scaled score over 32-34 or above the 30th percentile has traditionally been considered reassuring to pass the written boards. There are plenty of exceptions, but there is a real correlation between ITE and written board scores. There has been no rule-of-thumb made for the basic exam as of yet, but the pass rates for the past two years have been very high. It is unknown what the advanced exam pass rate will likely be, although we speculate it will be substantially lower than the basic exam.

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M5 Engram: 04.2015

ITE Results are back! 

The ABA ITE exam is without question the ONLY source that has a relatively high predictive value of how you will perform on the boards. Interpreting the scores can be confusing as the ABA usually discusses the scores in scaled score terms and we usually discuss them in terms of national percentile. The scaled score is internally consistent from year to year, meaning that if you scored a 35 this year, you would have scored a 35 on any other ITE from previous years...at least according to statisticians.
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M5 Engram: 11.2014

New Content Released!  

It has been a long time since our last Engram and during that time we have been very busy adding new content to help better divide the M5 into sections more helpful for studying for the Basic and Advanced Exams.  We have made the following changes:

  • Added content to Basic Pharmacology: Anesthesia Adjuncts
  • Added content to Basic Pharmacology: Induction Agents
  • Added content to Volatile Anesthetics
  • Added content to Statistics

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Study Resource for Both the ABA Basic and Advanced Exam

The M5 approaches the Basic and Advanced exams as they exist in reality: a continuum of knowledge. As such, we do not have two completely different banks of questions, rather a continuum of knowledge and sections that are geared more towards the Basic exam, more towards the Advanced exam, or appropriate for both exams. Each section is clearly marked as such to help focus your studies. It is important to realize that the distinctions between these two exams are often blurry at best, based on ABA content outlines, keyword analysis, and examinee feedback. Furthermore, the Advanced exam is billed to contain both "Basic" and "Advanced" topics.

At the M5, our philosophy is not to attempt to guess what is the minimum you need to know, but provide you with a study resource designed to approach both exams over-prepared and ready for whatever might come. The details and specifics what the ABA will test you on is limitless, but the concepts repeat year after year. We focus on helping you keep on track with the major concepts, provide you examples of the level of detail the ABA expects, and provide you test-taking tips along the way.

We are continually adding and revising questions; and as the time marches on, and as more predictability in topics, level of detail, and emphasis becomes apparent regarding these two exams, we will continue to make more distinctions in our question bank to separate "Basic" from "Advanced." Be very wary of anyone who thinks they can make that distinction now!

Access to the entire database of questions and explanations are purchased together, and for examines for US MOCA, Canadian, UK, or European boards should realize that "Basic" and "Advanced" refers to questions aimed towards a specific ABA exam and is not in reference to how challenging the question or concept is. Equal emphasis should be given to all sections for these test takers.

Upgraded M5 Website

It's September, the boards are over, and it's now time to look forward to 2015 with a new and improved M5! The M5 has been methodically and meticulously upgraded and enhanced with our biggest and most exciting version yet! Over the past week, the M5 has been undergoing enhancements to the website, user interface, graphic design, mobile browsing, backend code, server speed, usability, and more... the list goes on! But, even with all these great improvements, our core focus stays the same - our members.

We so strongly believe that our clear and comprehensive questions, coupled with detailed explanations, and packaged together in a logical easy-to-use format will prove extremely effective at successfully tackling the boards with confidence. We have all be in the same boat, and we understand that many things come into play when considering the right question bank, but one thing that is certain, is that we will always stay competitive in our pricing, never put the all-mighty dollar first, and have the residents financial and educational achievements in our best interests - you have been, and always shall be, our friends.

As our friends and family, we would love to hear from you as you begin to use the new M5! Please let us know if there's anything that you see which can be improved, changed, or added, and we will do our best to jump on it asap or add it to the future development roadmap.

Thank you again for being part of the M5 family, and we look forward to doing our best at helping you prepare for 2015 and beyond!

M5 Engram: 08.2014

Boards Are Over!

Congratulations to all of the graduating residents as well as incoming CA-2’s that took the ABA board examinations at the end of July. There will be only one more year for the classic written board exam before its format is permanently retired. As for the Basic Exam, additional congratulations are due for being the “guinea pigs” for the new two part written exam. From the feedback we received, it appeared that those who took it felt, in general, that it stuck to the content outline provided by the ABA, although a few examinees disagreed with this statement. Like previous board exams, many questions were straight forward, although there were also plenty of completely random questions, some requiring an exceptional level of detail, as well as a slew of questions that many felt had two right answers. This is all consistent with the boards in general. We also heard that patient vignettes were used on the regular written boards but were not used (at least much) on the Basic Exam, making it in some ways a more straightforward exam. Most importantly we heard that the concepts tested on the basic exam were in-line with what we expected and with a great sigh of relief we also hear that antiquated volatile anesthetic and equipment questions were not over-represented.

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It is not a coincidence that question based learning materials are one of the most popular study resources for medical students, especially when it comes to the boards. Chances are, you have used such a source (either paperback or on-line) for USMLE preparation. The M5 question bank have high quality questions that are board relevant, specifically designed and written to enhance learning of a wide variety of subjects and help integrate them for exam recall. Dreams of getting questions of what the partition coefficient of sevoflurane is or how much pressure is left in an oxygen tank should die now. The boards will test your ability to understand how coagulopathy, renal disease, cirrhosis, and seizure disorder will affect your anesthetic management. You NEED to know this stuff! From basic concepts like pharmacology, sensory distributions, and oxygen utilization to pathophysiologic principles such as cardiac physiology, neurophysiology, and obstetrics and on to clinical matters such as neuraxial anesthesia, cardiopulmonary bypass, and malignant hyperthermia, M5 has it ALL covered.

Constantly Updated

The M5 question bank is the backbone of an entire board review system including independent study and interactive lectures. It has been the interactive nature of lectures, and now interactions with you over the internet, through your feedback answering these questions, that has allowed and continues to allow enhancement of the questions and explanations. By making the question bank available on-line, this whole process has beene expanded to a broad audience, and with your continual feedback, the M5 is continually enhanced! Furthermore, on-going development of questions is one of many advantages the M5 has over out-of-date print question based learning materials, (even when the publisher makes the 20 year old questions available on-line).

Question Bank

There is no possible way that anyone (including us) can guarantee you will pass the boards. It is a function of your study habits and knowledge base as well as the quality of the materials utilized. Just like reading Miller’s Anesthesia cover-to-cover is a poor strategy for passing the boards, so is reviewing information from 15 year old exams and concentrating on remembered questions from last year. There is an inherent rate of repeat in questions form year to year, but the vast majority of questions have not been asked before. There IS, however, a very high rate of repeating concepts and emphases. The M5 teaches concepts with the emphasis on understanding so that the information can be extrapolated to the specific question on your exam; not the emphasis on factoids and route memorization that has failed many of those who relied heavily on those types of resources.

M5 Board Review