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How to choose the right answer on the ABSITE exam

How to choose the right answer on the ABSITE exam

The key is to know the right answer up front. Do not rely on being able to figure out the right answer on exam day. The exam makers provide you with answer choices that allow you to easily pick the correct answer if you already know the answer. (This is stating the obvious.)  However, if you do not know the correct answer, then you will probably easily reason your way toward the wrong answer. If fact, they provide you with just enough information to allow you to reason your way directly to the wrong answer. For example, knowing that amebic abscesses are transmitted via the fecal-oral route might lead you to make the false assumption that a stool culture would distinguish a pyogenic abscess from an amebic abscess. But that would be wrong, because the right answer is that you can distinguish between an amebic abscess and a pyogenic abscess via CT scan, and the best answer is that the best way to distinguish the two is via a serologic test.

 

If you have never read of, or heard of an answer choice, it is probably the wrong answer, and vice versa. If you have read about a particular topic often, the answer is probably that. An example would be the question about how you would distinguish between a pyogenic and an amebic abscess. If you didn’t know, you might choose stool culture. But the right answer is serologic test. You probably have never read about stool cultures being done on any of the liver abscesses, and yet you guessed that because it is passed by the fecal-oral route. But you should have chosen serologic test because you have read about that being done.

 

IF THE CORRECT ANSWER ISN’T OBVIOUS TO YOU AFTER YOU FINISH READING THE QUESTION, AND YOU HAVE TO SPEND MORE THAN A MINUTE WITH THE ANSWER, MARK THE QUESTION, AND REVIEW IT WHEN YOU FINISH THE EXAM.

DO NOT CHOOSE ANSWERS YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH. An example of this would be the case of a patient with obvious signs of pancoast tumor but you saw an answer choice of C7 nerve impingement and you chose that instead. Don’t do that.

In another question, the patient had signs of an anastomotic leak (which is an absite topic), but then you saw an answer choice called “efferent loop obstruction”. Although you didn’t know what that was, you chose it because it was an obstruction, totally ignoring the fact of the matter that the patient had high amylase,  suggesting a leak.

 Another example could be a question on what is the amino acid precurseor of catecolamines. Your intuition automatically said it was Tyrosine, but since you saw Arginine in the answer choices, you somehow chose that, for no rhyme or reason, except that you recognized the term Arginine.

TO LIMIT THE LIKELIHOOD OF CHOOSING THE WRONG ANSWER,  THE ANSWER YOU CHOOSE SHOULD ONLY CONTAIN TOPICS THAT ARE OFFICIAL ABSITE TOPICS. IF THE DIAGNOSIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL ABSITE TOPIC, THEN IT IS PROBABLY WRONG. THIS WILL SAVE YOU FROM MAKING REALLY BAD GUESSING DECISIONS.

COME UP WITH THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION BEFORE YOU LOOK AT THE ANSWER OPTIONS. GENERALLY PICK THE FIRST ANSWER THAT POPS UP IN YOUR HEAD.

CHOOSE YOUR INTUITIVE CHOICE BEFORE YOU LOOK AT THE ANSWER CHOICE. However, once you have looked at the answer options, you should no longer depend on your intuition to pick the right answer. The problem here is that the answer choice are presented to you in a way that will intuitively guide you to the wrong answer if you didn’t already know the correct answer. In essence, this is how multiple choice questions are designed. They are designed to trick you. And if you do not know the right answer, they are designed to take advantage of your likelihood of choosing the answer that just “appears right,” which is more often than right, the absolutely wrong answer.

USE HARD LOGIC. DO NOT USE WAVY LOGIC. When choosing an answer choice from a question whose answer was not immediately apparent to you, do not user illogical reasoning to get at the answer. This is similar to using your intuition in choosing the answer once you’ve looked at the answer options. Don’t do it. Instead, take all the facts presented to you into consideration and approach the answer using a logical, step by step approach. Your logic must make sense and it must be step-wise.  Big, illogical steps will land you straight on top of the wrong answer.

 

ABSITE 2014 REVIEW QUESTIONS

 

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