Preparation For The ABA Advanced Board Exam

As a follow-up post to preparing for the ABA Basic Exam which I took between my CA-1 and CA-2 years, I’ll be taking the Advanced Exam a month or so after finishing residency (~ July 2017).

I’ve spent the overwhelming majority of my “study time” reading journal articles and other fascinating things in the pipeline for perioperative care, critical care, and cardiothoracic medicine. Unfortunately, standardized exams are still centered around minutia which is easily forgotten.

I plan to use Freeman’s Anesthesiology Core Review – Part Two: ADVANCED Exam as the cornerstone of my reviewing efforts to prepare for the last part of my written boards. This way, the commonly tested concepts will stay fresh as I try to expand my knowledge of the latest developments and evidence-based outcomes in anesthesiology by reading journal articles. 🙂

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  1. Hi Dr. Kumar,

    I will soon be taking the Advanced exam this upcoming July. Do you still recommend residents to use the Advanced Core review exam book? They are releasing the 2nd edition in late June. Did you find it helpful for your own Advanced exam? Any other resources you recommend in hindsight?

    It’s interesting and a bit scary to note that the pass rate was 94% in 2017 but has drifted down to 84% in 2022… could not find data for 2023…. a whopping 10% drop in pass rate from the year you took it… What are your thoughts on this downward drift, especially as an academic attending? Do you think the test is getting more difficult(although hard to test that,no pun intended) or residents not taking it as seriously?

    • Hey Paul, just call me Rishi – we’re colleagues!

      Admittedly its been many years since I took the Advanced exam, so I’m not sure what the “go to” resources are these days, but I found the Advanced Core book pretty helpful as a review (although at that time, it was like the only review book lol). I’m not sure how to explain the drop in pass rate – possibly a combination of both since one just needs to “pass” and residents are taking it after graduation… and I’m sure the last thing they want to study for is an exam. 🤷🏽‍♂️

  2. Hows the book? I’m a CA-3 at VCU in Richmond, VA.

    I’ve thought about purchasing this book. I’ve yet to find an anesthesia review text that I really like. I found Faust too verbose, long-winded, and with poor explanations. I sorta liked anesthesia pearls but it seems just like a bunch of random anesthesia facts pieced together. What are your thoughts? Worth buying? What about your co-residents, has anybody else tried it?

    Best of luck on the test!

    • So far, so good! I echo your sentiments about Faust, but haven’t used anesthesia pearls before. I enjoy this book because it’s structure follows the official ABA content outline. I still have over a year before I take the exam, so I’m using it as a textbook and supplementing it with notes from question banks, Barash, Miller, etc.

      Congrats on almost finishing residency man! 🙂

  3. Good to finally understand these abbreviations and how your medical schooling system works… As usual, thanks for the insight and a pleasure chitchatting with you

    • Hey Adnane! The ABA is the certifying body for anesthesiologists in the United States, so they’re also responsible for the board exams we take.

      “CA” denotes our level of training in “clinical anesthesiology.” For example, a CA-2 is the equivalent of a “second year anesthesiology resident”, but since we all do an intern year between graduating from medical school and beginning anesthesiology residency, our “post-graduate year” number is actually PGY-3. It confuses a lot of specialities, so I traditionally stick with the more common “PGY” notation. 🙂


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