Tips for Success
- Start studying at least 8-12 months prior to the examination, devoting a minimum of 1-2 times per week to exam preparation.
- Plan a systematic review of the vast amount of topics that require study. Consider creating a table comprised of an extensive list of topics (the List of Potential Exam Topics is below). Review and study as many topics (e.g.: toxicological, occupational, environmental) as possible. It is important to include topics rarely encountered as well as the more common topics. Individuals who have taken the exam repeatedly say that ‘you need to know everything about everything.’ The expectation is that for an individual to pass the ABAT exam, he or she should possess extensive toxicology knowledge, among other skills.
- After studying specific toxicology topics, the self-assessment chapter quizzes in Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies can be used to test your knowledge and test taking ability. These self-assessment quizzes are good examples of the depth of detail typical of the multiple choice section of the ABAT exam. The URL link is: http://www.goldfrankstoxicology.com/self-assessment.html
- Take notes of important points for each topic during your review. Write down the main points in a notebook; flashcards, or whatever method works for you. Periodically, review these notes as you are continuing to study new topics. Additionally, these notes are very useful for the final review during the week prior to the examination.
- Join or form a study group of other individuals studying for the ABAT or ACMT exam to meet weekly with the goal of studying and discussing various toxicology topics. If in-person meetings are not possible, a teleconference may work well in some situations. [ACMT = American College of Medical Toxicology]
- Be prepared to critically evaluate a scientific journal article including appropriateness of the statistical analysis. If you are not able to do this proficiently, then take steps to accomplish this goal. Some suggestions include: take a refresher course on the application of biostatistics for the medical literature, and/or initiate a self-tutorial program using reputable medical statistics references (see ABAT Study Guide Reference List). Participate in a journal club that reviews current scientific literature. Review should involve a critical analysis of the citations including appropriateness of the study design, methodology, statistical application and validity of the authors’ conclusions.
- Routinely participate in bedside consultations of overdose patients in a hospital setting in order to become competent in clinical case management skills of poisoned patients including formal written consultation. Utilize the case studies in Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies to test your case management skills of poisoned patients.
The URL link is: http://www.goldfrankstoxicology.com/cases.html
- Make a list of all the U.S. governmental agencies (eg: NIOSH, EPA) pertinent to toxicology. Know each agency’s mission and scope, Congressional acts responsible for their creation; standards they establish, monitor or are responsible for enforcing (eg: TLV, PEL, MCL, etc).
- Be familiar with major historical toxicological events and disasters as well as current events and emerging trends in toxicology.
- Review and study the ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine [ATSDR = Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry]. These case study units contain much valuable information that is pertinent to successfully passing the ABAT exam; however, be aware that the section questions are much less challenging than the questions typically found on the ABAT exam. The URL link is: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.html
- When taking the ABAT exam, remember it is a timed test. Bring a watch and budget your time well. Each of the four essay questions consists of multiple parts (see ABAT Study Guide Table of Specifications below). Efficient time management is of utmost importance. Write legibly and organize your responses to highlight the main points you want to convey to the person grading your exam (e.g.: when appropriate consider organizing your responses using bulleted phrases rather than full sentences). Follow the exam instructions. For example, when the instructions state to LIST your responses, organize your responses as a list; Do Not respond in full sentences or paragraph format.
- Obtain guidance from an ABAT Diplomate in good standing.
- Reserve the week before the exam to review.
- Get a good night’s sleep prior to test days.