This is my breakdown of the study tools I utilized for the Primary Care (or Family Medicine) EOR exam for PA school. No matter what tools you decide to use, I definitely recommend creating some sort of study plan. I think it’s important for success at any kind of exam. If you go into studying all willy-nilly, the end results are not going to be what you want or expect.
So one of the biggest things I do to study is create these huge, detailed but concise charts. I find the act of making these charts really helpful. Reading the information in a resource book and then synthesizing it into my own words so that it fits into the chart helps me cement the knowledge in my brain. I used three main books to fill out my Primary Care Chart, and then used a few different test bank opens to do practice problems. That was most of my studying, and it worked well for me!
(I talked about what my charts include in the EOR Exam Study Plan Post, so check that out if you already haven’t.)
These are the resources I used for my chart.
- Green Book
- Pros: Since this book is made for PAs taking the PANCE or the PANRE, it covers most of the topics put out by the PAEA. It uses an outline format, something I enjoy over paragraph format. I find it easier to read and understand. And it doesn’t go too in depth into each disease, hitting the major points for each one.
- Cons: It doesn’t cover every disease on the blueprint, and some topics are very skimpy. There were times I thought the book was a little unclear on which diagnostic study was truly the gold standard. This resource also has a lot less pictures and charts than the other two resources I used.
- What I used it for: I used this less for filling out the chart and more for reading purposes. For instance, I knew I struggled with the cardiology section based on the practice exam I took during week 1. So I went through and re-read the cardiology section in this book and highlighted in a different color. I also took some notes in the margins and tried to come up with pneumonics or phrases that would help me remember something I had read.
- PANCE Prep Pearls
- Pros: Another book made specifically for PAs. This book uses the “5 Ps” model – Pathophysiology, Present, Pick it up?, Palliate, and Pharmacology – which is amazing for when I’m completing my charts. It also does a great job of bolding the information that is really important for you to know. And I like how the book uses flow charts, charts, and figures to better explain some of the topics. I can also count on PPP to have a disease if it’s not in the “Green Book”.
- Cons: Sometimes the author uses way too many abbreviations. This is mainly in the 1st edition and drastically improved in the 2nd edition, but is still present in a couple of areas. This book is also HUGE, and it can be a pain to carry around at times. I got mine spiraled and it seriously changed how much I used this book. It allows my book to lay flat, which makes it easier for me to read and highlight. You can get it done at Staples/Office Depot and other places like that.
- What I used it for: This was my go to for filling out the charts. It was very concise and hit all of the major things that I needed to know. Plus its “5 Ps Model” really aligned well with my own chart sections.
- Step Up to Medicine
- Pros: I LOVE the “Quick Hit” boxes in the margin. These are great facts to know for testing, and having them to the side makes it really easy for me to understand the importance of them. This is another resource that uses an outline version to go through disease – it hits General Characteristics, Causes, Clinical Features, Diagnosis, and Treatment. This is almost exactly the sections I use for my charts. Plus, this book has pictures of the x-ray diagnostic tests look like so I’m able to correlate the name of that x-ray sign with what it looks like. I just feel like that helps me cement some of the more interesting names given to x-ray signs.
- Cons: This book is developed for Medical students, so sometimes it goes more in depth into diseases that I will not be tested on. Which is great for having a full understand of the system, less helpful for when I’m studying for the EOR
- What I used it for: A mix of reading and filling out the charts. This is the resource I use last when I’m studying. It main use was for seeing the information in a different wording, which allowed me to learn it better. I also used it for covering items I’m still on the fence about so that I could have a more thorough understanding of difficult topics.
Now on to the test banks I used!
- Exam Master
- Pros: It was one of the test banks given to my class for free. I thought the questions were a decent difficulty level.
- Cons: There’s no option for you to specify what kind of setting you would like (ie primary care), only for you to chose questions based on organ system. The explanations are not as helpful as other test banks.
- What I used it for: Mainly I used it to do questions on the organ sections that I knew were my weakest (cardiology). It allowed me to just have lots of exposure to different types of questions. I would then go look up the topics I missed in PPP or Step-Up to Medicine since I felt the explanations were weaker
- Rosh Review
- Pros: This is hands down my favorite test bank. I thought the difficulty level of the questions was very accurate when compared to the EOR exams. But the explanations are actually my favorite feature of this test bank. They’re very informative and helpful, and most of them include a picture. I learned a lot just from being able to read them. Rosh Review also has “Boost” exams that you can buy of the different EOR exams.
- Cons: Definitely a pricey test bank to go with. Rosh Review costs $199 for one year, and all of the EOR boost exams cost extra. BUT I have a free 30 day trial for you guys to try out if you follow this LINK.
- What I used it for: I used the boost exams for my final practice test before the EOR exam. I took it 1.5 weeks away from test day to gauge where I was at in terms of knowledge. I also really utilized all of the explanations for questions. I read them whether or not I got the question right.
- Pros: Very cheap test bank at only $65 for the year. There are a lot of questions available, and the EOR exams are included in the base subscription.
- Cons: Not the best test bank. There are a lot of errors in the questions, and it seems as though a lot of the questions are very similar to Rosh Review or the questions on the actual EOR exam (like VERY similar). Questions also repeat in all of the different “Tests” so there are less unique questions than advertised.
What I used it for: I used the EOR practice exams as a night before test bank. I also used this as a main source of just doing questions throughout the rotation.
I also used two Pretest Books – Pretest Medicine and Pretest Family Medicine – for practice questions on the go. These books were great for doing questions while I was at my rotations because they don’t require computer or phone access, so I never had to worry about my preceptors thinking I was goofing off. I had older editions from a library sale (so I got them for really cheap), and some of the medicine was outdated, but I still really learned a lot from the explanations.
Now, those were all of the resources that I used (plus my Pocket Resources which you can read about HERE).
But I wanted to run through some other resources out there that you could consider using!
While I didn’t personally use them, I’ve heard lots of good things about them. And I thought it would be very helpful for all y’all to have an almost complete list of resources you might use. Please reach out to me if you have any extra resources I should share on this list!
- Clinical Guidelines in Family Practice
- Blueprints Family Medicine
- Swanson’s Family Medicine Review
- First Aid for the Family Medicine Boards
- The Color Atlas of Primary Care
- Fast Facts for the Family Medicine Board Review
- Differential Diagnosis and Treatment in Primary Care
- Kaplan High Yield – I actually did use these videos and found them to be extremely helpful!
- PA Easy – PA easy does give you the ability to see questions based on setting (so you can select primary care questions)
I was recently asked when I started studying for each EOR exam, and honestly, I started the day that I started my rotation. So that means I did 5.5 weeks of studying for each EOR. I’m not great at taking tests, and I probably spent a lot more time than my classmates preparing for exams. But I’ve found the methods that work for me (aka studying from day 1, making charts, and reading different review materials). By doing a little bit every day, I ended up feeling a lot more confident when I go in and take the exam. And it means that I’m not stressing out during my last week of rotation because I’ve already completed the majority of my studying!
My biggest suggestion to you as you’re preparing for an EOR or Shelf exam is to come up with a study plan and stick to it. Try not to listen and compare yourself to others, and remember the ways that you learn may be completely different.
With that being said, I would love to hear your methods for preparing for the Family Medicine/Primary Care EOR exam and what you’ve found that works. And please let me know if you find a great resource so I can update my list!
Comment below on your thoughts, and as always, feel free to follow along on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to get a better glimpse into the daily life of a PA student trying to survive with a stethoscope and some sparkle.