Everyone who has earned the right to take the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) qualifying examination has endured countless assessments along the way. Although this has no doubt led to much strife and trepidation, we can finally take solace in the fact that this particular examination, in theory, carries a unique applicability to the daily practice of emergency medicine.
The changing landscape of technology has led to significant changes in the way we access our information. Test takers now have a multitude of options to choose from when selecting their preferred method of test preparation. One constant in all of this turnover is the ubiquitous value of practice questions.
PEER IX succeeds in offering a full-length practice examination with questions that are representative of the qualifying examination. The questions in PEER IX are stimulating and expansive, covering nearly every relevant topic. Readers are further rewarded with richly engaging explanations and analysis on why each of the other choices is incorrect. These discussions should not be overlooked because the answer for even the most simple question carries several teaching points.
Its greatest value is also its greatest impediment. The questions so closely mimic what will likely be seen on the actual examination that it can be frustrating at times. For instance, having to choose the most sensitive complaint for someone with a pulmonary embolus (chest pain or dyspnea?) or the most specific test for viral encephalitis is both esoteric and immaterial to the practice of emergency medicine. Controversial topics such as the use of cuffed versus uncuffed tubes are not shied away from, which can make ascertaining the correct answer difficult. However, such is the reality of the ABEM examination.
The resource that most closely compares to PEER IX is Rosh Review. The largest difference is that PEER IX is available in both written and digital format. However, there is something to be said for the simplicity of Rosh Review because its questions and explanations are more concise and seemingly clinically relevant.
As emergency physicians, most of us are cursed with a short attention span. Although it may not be feasible for all, the book is best used when questions are taken in blocks. The more one is accustomed to sitting for a time, answering lengthy questions and pacing oneself, the more comfortable he or she will feel when actually taking the test.
With so many types of resources now available, examinees have likely found a consistently efficacious blueprint for how to achieve maximum success in test taking. The value of practice questions cannot be doubted. A good question book will educate the reader without crushing him or her underneath the minutiae; it will replicate the actual test as closely as possible. To this end, PEER IX should be considered a success.