Emergency Medicine Board Review is a free question bank app for iOS & Android

Editors note: When this article was written by our physician writer, it was free — that no longer is the case as the developer has changed the pricing.

Purpose of App Review

How helpful is this app in preparing Emergency Medicine physicians for inservice and board exams?

Introduction

In February, all Emergency Medicine residents in the U.S. took their annual inservice exam, a yearly test that aims to prepare residents for their formal board exams at the end of residency training.

Residents must find time in their busy clinical schedules to study for exams, using a combination of textbooks and board review questions. Many resources exist for this purpose. I recently reviewed two board review apps: Practice Exams in EM and EM IQ.

EM Board review is another free app for iOS and Android that contains a bank of 5000 multiple choice questions aimed to prepare residents for inservice and board exams.

User Interface

The app interface is simple and straightforward. Users go through a series of multiple choice questions. Each question has a short explanation shown after the user selects the correct answer. The answers do not contain citations to appropriate references.

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If the user gets the question right, it is removed from the rotation until the user goes through all the questions. If they are incorrect, the question is repeated further on until they get it right. Questions are generally short and specific. This can be seen in the picture below.

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Some questions do not appear relevant for board review.

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The app also keep tracks of various statistics.

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The categories of question breakdown are tremendously specific. Instead of general categories like “Cardiology” and “Neurology,” we see categories like “Acute stroke” and “Carotid Sheath.” Though questions are not as strong as those in other commonly used resources like PEER VIII, these 5,000 free questions may be a valuable study adjunct.

Price:

  • Free

Likes

  • Large volume of free questions
  • Short, clear explanations provided

Dislikes

  • No references are cited
  • Statistics categories are far too specific
  • Some questions are inappropriate for board review

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app:

  • Emergency Medicine residents

Conclusions

  • This medical app has a clear, simple design and provides users with a free, extensive bank of board review questions.
  • Most questions given are reasonable and challenging.
  • This app would benefit from citing the answers given and using more general categories in its statistics.

iMedicalApps recommended?

  • Yes

iTunes link
Android link

Rating: 4.3/5
1. User Interface – 5/5 – clean and simple.
2. Multimedia usage- NA
3. Price - 5/5 – Free
4. Real world applicability – 3 / 5 – Not recommended as a primary study resource, but could be a helpful adjunct.

References

Guth, Todd. “Preparing for the Emergency Medicine Boards: The Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association (EMRA) Emergency Medicine Qualifying and Certification Exam Preparation Survey.”

Reviewed: Version 1
Device used: iPhone 4S, iOS 6.1

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad and Android devices. Requires iOS 4.3 or later or Android 2.2 and up.

Disclaimer:
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.

Author:

Shannon McNamara, MD

7 Responses to Emergency Medicine Board Review is a free question bank app for iOS & Android

  1. jim April 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    It’s not free anymore.

  2. Dave April 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    No longer Free – $8.99 now.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD April 11, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      Thats for catching that. At the time the article was written the app was free. We have made an editorial comment at the start of the write up to reflect this. For what it’s worth — I don’t think the app is worth the $8.99. If the app were to include references to the questions / answers — then I think it would be worth the $8.99 or even more.

  3. aligrecu April 13, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    I agree that without references the app loses a lot in value. Especially because there’s no information whatsoever on who the authors of these questions are. The website for the company boasts of:

    “Over 1,000 physician, nursing, and allied health professionals authored a database of over 1.5 million classified multiple choice questions, explanations, and key words
    Each question has been peer reviewed by two health professionals and a pharmacist
    Questions and answers are reviewed annually and updated through a peer review process
    If a problem question or answer is identified by users, it is peer reviewed and updated within five days and the student user is provided with an updated version the next time they sync their device”
    (this refers to all sorts of questions, not just the 5000 ones in this app)

    This seems to be a new venture (so perhaps not enough time yet to include references for the answers) and I feel the company is testing the waters with this app. I’d be fine with the questions being peer reviewed (FOAM like) but that would require people buying the app, using it, giving feedback and having some confidence that their feedback is incorporated.
    On the other hand, if the app is full of errors this will be reflected quickly in the app reviews on iTunes and, especially without the references, this will kill the app’s prospects very quickly. So you’d like to think that the app makers want to stay in business and have therefore used appropriate references for the questions and answers.

    £5.99 is a bit much for what is essentially a plunge into the unknown, but I’ll give it a try.

  4. aligrecu April 13, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Ok, so I know that I got the app, here’s my impressions:
    1. There is indeed a link to an online reference for each question

    2. From the questions I’ve done so far (25) this reference seems to be Medscape (mostly) or just a google search for the topic (i suspect that there will be Wikipedia references as well) – this is ok as a lot of doctors (especially here in the UK) use the same references

    3. The interface for the app needs work on it:
    - if a question has more than 5 lines of text (which is not much considering the bold, relatively high font used – see above in the review) you have to scroll to see the question (and then you lose from sight the first few lines). This is even though there’s plenty of unused space at the bottom (again, see above in the review for how much space is available after the answer options). Out of 25 questions 10 were like this so the issue is not easily ignored
    - on the explanation page, at the bottom there’s a swipe button (the one in the middle in the screencaps above) that gives you the option to see more (i.e to get the link to the online reference). This is cumbersome and unnecessary. A two line bottom bar wouldn’t have done anything detrimental to the answer page and a one line bottom bar doesn’t add anything.
    - more neutral colours for the app (or the ability to choose) would be welcomed (and really easy to implement).

    4. When you click on an answer, if it isn’t the correct one, the app doesn’t mark it as such and take you to the explanation. You have to click all the answers until you get the correct one and only then does it take you to the explanation. Not seen this approach before but I guess it helps knowledge retention (though it might annoy some users – especially those wanting to use the app for quickly doing a few question here and there).

    5. Haven’t had enough experience with the app to comment on the difficulty of the questions but from the 25 that I’ve done it seems to me to be an app mainly for junior doctors (up to year 3 after medical school).

    6. The app uses trade names for drugs and this is really annoying for non-US users like me.

    This is the first version of the app so perhaps improvements to come. But I don’t begrudge at all the £5.99 paid for it.

  5. Shannon McNamara, MD May 9, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    @aligrecu – Thanks for your comments.

    On further review, I was able to find a link to references for the answers. When the explanation is shown, clicking the arrow at the bottom of the screen shows a “More” button, which will open up a relevant reference, usually from Medscape.

    After initially reviewing this as a free app, I would not pay $8.99 for the content. The questions are of variable quality and though many are challenging, the question bank as a whole is not very high yield for board review.

  6. Thomas Bertke, MD December 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    This is an amazing app. For a modest price, thousands of questions. I sent comments to the publisher and received comments back within 24 hours. I found a few questions that needed small improvements and the next time I synched the app they were revised. Apparently all the questions in the database are easily correctable and they seem to be constantly working at improvement. Over time, this should become one of the best products on the market – like eMedicine – frequently updated.

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