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Get Ahead on Your Pediatric Shelf Exam: Top Tips for Success

Are you preparing to take the pediatric shelf exam? If so, you’re not alone.

Thousands of medical students take their first step toward becoming practicing pediatricians by taking their shelf exams each year.

And the majority of these students pass the exam easily. 

This can be pretty overwhelming and scary. But you don’t have to worry at all. With a little extra effort, you can clear the exam with distinction.

In this guide, we’ll go over the most common tips and tricks to help you pass your exam with distinction. 

We will also go over common pitfalls to avoid to maximize your chances of passing and becoming a practicing pediatrician. 

Utilize Your Clerkship Experience

Did you know that you can start preparing for the pediatric shelf beforehand?

In your pediatric internship, make it a priority to stay updated with clinical research and read articles from top medical journals to get additional information on best practices. 

The overall goal is to know as much as possible about this specialty so that when it comes time to take board exams, you will be confident. 

Once you have built up your knowledge base through coursework and practice, you’ll need to focus on retaining that knowledge by reviewing key facts and case studies before the exam.

You will find many resources available at your institution’s library to ace your pediatric shelf exam.  

Know Your Pediatric Vitals

Pediatric vitals are different from other types of vital signs and require knowledge about age-appropriate normal ranges.

The most common pediatric vital sign is respiratory rate, which is calculated by taking a child’s number of breaths in 30 seconds and multiplying it by 2 to give an expected rate. 

Breathing rates may vary based on exercise or changes in air quality, so it is important to be mindful of what activity the child was engaged in before measuring their respiratory rate. 

Knowing these little things will help you perform better in the exam, as most of the questions are related to real-time health scenarios. 

Solve Enough Practice Questions

Many students wait until just before their shelf exam to start preparing.

That’s not considered a good practice.

If you want to do your best in the exam, you would have to practice enough. 

Find a local pediatric educator or consultant and work with them to create a study plan that matches your timeframe.

Consider the total hours per week you can dedicate to exam preparation. 

We recommend starting by taking practice questions before your review starts so you have an idea of what areas you need to improve and in which areas you performed well.

Once you start a study plan, work with your mentor to ensure it is tailored specifically to your needs. 

Have a Good Knowledge of Child Development

Child development is an interesting and important topic that can be broadly broken down into different stages, each of which has its own developmental milestones and major shifts in cognitive abilities. 

In order to score well in the pediatric shelf exam, you would have to get a thorough knowledge of normal childhood development.

Along with changes in cognitive abilities, you should know that there can also be some risk factors associated with child development. 

For example, children who undergo pediatric surgeries have high rates of unplanned hospital readmission within the next 30 days.

So, you will have to study all aspects carefully and thoroughly. 

Take Break Intervals During Study

This may sound unfavorable, but it is important to take a break.

You can take a 15-minute break every hour, but we also encourage you to spend some time with your family or catch up on sleep in order to be at your best when it’s time to prepare. 

Review what you have learned while you are away from studying, and you’ll come back ready to study some more. 

Start by making an outline of the different topics that need to be studied ahead of time.

An outline will allow you to know where each topic fits into pediatric healthcare so that it is easier to understand during review sessions. 

Seek Support from Seniors

You are not the first person to go through this exam. Many senior students have already taken the exam before.

You can find senior students with similar interests or a mentor to talk about your exam preparation. 

Asking for help will take some of the pressure off.

Senior residents have lots of knowledge, and they’re always willing to share it with their junior colleagues. 

If you ask them for help, they will be more than happy to sit down with you and provide some tips on how best to prepare for the exam.

If you’re interested in getting help from your senior doctors, just ask around the hospital, and someone will point you in the right direction. 

Photo by Andy Barbour from Pexels


The editorial staff of Medical News Bulletin had no role in the preparation of this post. The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored post are those of the advertiser and do not reflect those of the Medical News Bulletin. Any Web sites linked from Medical News Bulletin site are created by organizations outside of Medical News Bulletin and are the sole responsibility of those organizations. These links are strictly provided by Medical News Bulletin as a convenience to you for additional information only. Medical News Bulletin does not approve or endorse the content on any third-party Web sites and is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites or third-party advertisements, as well as does not make any representations regarding their content or accuracy. Your use of third-party web sites is at your own risk and subject to the terms and conditions of use as per such sites policies. Medical News Bulletin does not provide specific medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and hereby disclaims any assumption of any of the obligations, claims or liabilities..

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