Subscribe Here!

    | 5 min read

    ABIM Certification Exam Survival Guide

    The ABIM exam is one of the most rigorous exams you’ll ever take. It requires months and months of preparation. Even the most meticulous doctors need to understand what is required for the ABIM exam before they start studying. You need to understand how the exam is structured, what material is covered in the questions, how to create your study calendar, and what to expect on the day of the exam. Once you understand how to prepare, you can start studying (and you’ll be way ahead of your peers!)

    What is ABIM Certification?

    An ABIM Certification is a credential held by a physician who has met all the requirements to be certified to practice Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). The ABIM is an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies physicians in Internal Medicine and its subspecialties.

    How Long Does ABIM Certification Last?

    In order to maintain an ABIM Certification, a physician must participate in maintenance of certification (MOC) activities. Physicians need to earn 100 MOC credits every 5 years in order to remain eligible for certification. 

    ABIM Board Certification Eligibility Requirements

    "Board Eligible" means that you've completed all of the training (residency) necessary to be an Internist, you just haven't taken your Certification Exam yet!

    How Long Can You Be Board Eligible According to the ABIM?

    For Internal Medicine, you're Board Eligible for 7 years after your residency training. After 7 years there are additional steps that you'll need to take before being able to take the exam again. 

    How Hard is the ABIM Exam?

    The ABIM exam is one of the most difficult exams a doctor will take throughout their career. There are 240 case-based, single-best-answer multiple-choice questions that cover a wide range of Internal Medicine topics. Even though it's an incredibly tough exam, 93% of first-time ABIM exam-takers passed in 2020. 

    How Many Times Can You Take the ABIM Exam?

    As an Internist, you're able to take the ABIM exam 3 times. If there are 3 failed attempts, you must wait a full year before enrolling in the exam again. But don't worry, after a solid board review and some Q&As you'll be well on your way to a passing ABIM exam score!

    How to Study for Internal Medicine Boards

    The ABIM certification exam is designed to evaluate whether you possess the knowledge, diagnostic reasoning, and clinical judgment skills expected of a certified Internist. The exam is composed of multiple-choice questions with one correct answer, most of which describe clinical scenarios. These types of case-based questions will require you to make a diagnosis, identify and issue necessary tests and interpret test results, recommended treatment, and understand the underlying pathophysiology of disease applicable to patient care. You need to get 64% of the questions correct to pass. 

    Know What Material Is Going to Be Covered in the Exam

    The ABIM publishes an annual exam blueprint detailing what material is represented on the certification exam, with the percentage assigned per content category. This will help you focus your study sessions 

    The exam is composed of multiple-choice questions with one correct answer, most of which describe clinical scenarios. These types of case-based questions will require you to make a diagnosis, identify and issue necessary tests and interpret test results, recommended treatment, and understand the underlying pathophysiology of disease applicable to patient care.

    ABIM Exam Secrets Study Guide

    Before you ever even open a book or qbank, download and read through StudyWise. Think of StudyWise as your ABIM exam secrets study guide! It's a quick read that will unsettle you by de-bunking 6 learning myths that may be holding you back—and will reveal the 2 secrets to long-term learning.

    When you're studying for the ABIM certification exam, space out your study sessions and review the content multiple times before your exam for the most effective review. No cram sessions or crash courses! 

    A simple formula: Go to the Table of Contents and look at the main topics (ex: Cardiology: Hypertension). Decide on how many of these you’ll go through each day. Knocking out 1 topic at a time, plan out your next 1-2 months of review by assigning dates next to each main topic to indicate when you’ll study that topic. 

    Our Personal Trainer sends you email notifications to remind you to study each of these topics, along with tips for how to study them. Add in your exam date, and Personal Trainer will help keep you on track! 

    Research Your Exam Day Schedule

    From which testing center you need to report to, to what to take with you (and what to leave at home!), to when breaks are, it’s important to research your exam day schedule. This will help you understand what exam day will look like for you, and help you set expectations for that day. 

    For example, the ABIM Certification Exam for Internal Medicine is set up in a modular format with 60 multiple-choice questions per session. Each session is 2 hours long, and they’re separated by optional breaks.

    Go Through Vital Facts Right Before the Exam

    1-2 months before the exam, we recommend you switch over completely to using Q&As for your review. Make sure you go through each topic several times and try to implement interleaving and spaced retrieval if you can. This will help you key in on areas where you need to focus your review right before the exam, and will also help dredge up knowledge from your long-term memory. 

    Get Your Study Tools 

    For the ABIM Certification exam, we recommend the Study Strong Essentials. It’s our 3 most essential Internal Medicine study tools designed to work together to be the most up-to-date, clear, and board-focused content available. You’ll get all the information you need to know for your exam—nothing more, nothing less. 

    We also offer free trials on all of our digital MedStudy tools. Even if you’re thinking you’d like the print products better, use the free trial to see the content before you make the jump to buy. And you can always get in touch with our support team with any questions before you purchase. 

    You may also like:

    Study Strong Internal Medicine Board Prep Product Updates Residency

    Best Medical Lectures Online: The IM Review Course Schedule is Here!

    Looking for the best medical lectures online? You don't want to miss our only Internal Medicine Online Review Course of ...

    Study Strong Internal Medicine

    How Hospital Medicine Basics Helps Your Practice

    If you're a Hospitalist, you're used to seeing fast-paced, high-acuity complex care. You never know what you're going to...

    CME Study Strong Internal Medicine Board Prep Residency

    What Is the Best Internal Medicine Board Review Course?

    If you're gearing up for an exam, need some CME or MOC, or looking for a way to refresh your knowledge for your practice...