Last updated on August 8th, 2023
We’ve received a question on whether the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology exam (ABPN) includes testing on landmark studies in their field. We reached out to ABPN for clarification, but they did not confirm nor deny a focus on landmark studies. Thus, I fall back on my own and our clients’ extensive experience in taking ABPN exams. In short, I’ve neither heard of nor experienced ABPN directly testing on landmark studies.
For example, there will not be questions such as, “Which of the following results was found in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) Study?”
Nor will there be a question such as, “In the Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) Study,” combined treatment was found superior to medication alone for ADHD with which of the following comorbid conditions?”
Rather, the way ABPN questions present a clinical scenario and ask something similar to, “Which of the following treatment interventions would most likely be effective for this patient?”
Landmark studies contribute to our clinical and consensus guidelines. Sometimes a landmark study is so well designed, so large, and with much greater statistical power to identify effective and non-effective treatments that treatment guidelines are based solely on its findings. However, more often, results even from a landmark study are combined with other studies’ results, often through meta-analyses. Thus, a landmark study’s results contribute to but do not solely drive treatment guidelines.
Ultimately, what ABPN tests on are the test-taker’s ability to identify well-supported, widely accepted, and standard-of-care treatment interventions. Landmark studies, thus, indirectly contribute to identifying such interventions, but are not a direct focus on exam questions.
Last, our Beat The Boards! courses are designed to be consistent with ABPN’s style of testing. We rely heavily on published treatment guidelines and meta-analyses to present what are considered first-line and second-line treatments. We include many vignette-style questions since the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology exam, and other boards, are increasingly moving towards this style of testing. Our clients support our approach through their high pass rates. Of course, I know that everything can be improved. If you find errors or omissions you believe should not be omitted, certainly let me know.