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Delaying board exam may result in lower scores :

September 22, 2016

Candidates for board certification in pediatrics shouldn’t procrastinate on taking their exam, a new study found. Those who delay the test tend to have lower scores and pass rates.

“Our results from this study indicate that it is advisable for residents and fellows to take the first available certifying examination to maximize their chances of attaining certification,” according to the authors, who included representatives of the American Board of Pediatrics.

Researchers studied data that spanned more than a decade on 22,344 candidates taking the general pediatrics (GP) exam and 10,573 taking a pediatric subspecialty (PS) exam. The GP exam is offered annually, while PS exams are available every two years.

The test takers were divided into three groups — those who took the test within a year of training, those who took it one to two years later and those who waited two years or more.

A score of at least 410 was needed to pass the GP exam. The group that did not delay the exam had an average score of 504 and a pass rate of 85%, while the group with a short delay had a score of 450 and a pass rate of 66%. The group that delayed at least two years had a score of 380 and a pass rate of 47%.

To pass a PS exam, candidates need a score of at least 400. Groups 1 and 2 both averaged 497 and had pass rates of 85% and 84%, respectively. Group 3, which was the only one not to take the first available exam, had an average score of 457 and pass rate of 71%.

The authors surmised that those who delayed their exam may not have performed as well due to being farther removed from training or having shifted focus to a specialty before taking the GP exam. Those who delay also may be less confident about their ability to pass.

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