The Board of Preventive Medicine Certification exam confirms that a physician is qualified to practice medicine. The exam comes in two sections, each with 150 multiple-choice questions. The first section covers disease prevention while the second evaluates skills and knowledge related to a specialty. You’ll have three hours to take each section. You must pass both sections of the exam to become certified, and you’ve one opportunity to retake one of the sections if needed.

Develop a Study Strategy

Step 1

Take advantage of the study guide provided by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Use the study guide to learn specific information about content areas included in the general and specialty exams. Review the sample questions, content outlines and helpful books and websites. Become familiar with the structure of the exam, including the distribution of questions and question format. Use the competencies listed in the study guide as a tool to assess your level of comfort with the material direct your review strategy.

Step 2

Dedicate yourself to five days of intensive review by taking the preventive medicine board review course. Main session topic include biostatistics, health services administration, clinical preventive services, chronic disease and infectious disease. Take advantage of specialty review sessions such as occupational medicine, public health and aerospace medicine. Refer to your study guide, since the meat of this course reviews this information. This course is appropriate for first-time exam takers or re-certification.

Step 3

Once you’ve engaged in exhaustive review, take the practice exam offered by the American College of Preventive Medicine to gain insight about further study needs. This online practice exam includes 125 questions in a format similar to the actual test. You don’t have to complete the exam in one sitting, and you’ll receive immediate information about potential deficiencies. Be prepared to answer questions on core areas such as biostatistics, clinical preventive medicine, behavior and mental health, infectious diseases and epidemiology.


Consider your residency an ongoing opportunity to prepare for the preventive medicine certification exam. If you study throughout your residency and apply your learning to cases you’re working on, you’re more likely to be prepared for the exam. Create study groups to help review the material on the study guide. Plan on taking the exam as soon as you’ve completed your residency so everything learned is fresh in your mind.

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