Summary of Requirements

  1. Documented approval from Faculty Mentor
  2. Rotation request form
  3. Board Success contract link
  4. Board review completion Form ( link comes in email)
  5. Course Structure Evaluation ( in New Innovations)


The Board Success Track exists because students regularly ask for more time to study for the boards. This track can be used once during third year. Most students who self-select this track do it during block one, however it can be used to prepare for any examination during third year.

Interesting data is being collected on the use of Board Success track and board examination outcomes. Preliminary data shows:

  • If students are directed by the SPC to use this track they are more likely to pass the exam than at risk students who did not have the chance to do a clinical distinction course.
  • If students self select this track their score is unlikely to be significantly higher than if they do a different track.
  • Students who take the exam early are more likely to pass the examination.
  • Students who do specialty tracks tend to score higher on the boards.

There are also published articles about the effect of increased study time on board pass rate and scores. In general educators agree that more time is not likely to improve outcomes.

Here are a few articles:

Board Study Time and USMLE Scores

JAOA 2013 Predictors of Scoring 600 on COMLEX1

Board Study Time and USMLE Scores 2

To get the most out of the extra study time, students who register for the Board success track are tasked with creating a contract of learning to commit to what they will study, how they will study, and when they will study. This Board Success track contract, is followed, at the end of the course, with a Board Success completion form which asks the student to evaluate if they did what they set out to do.

Self Selected Board Review

Students who have selected to use a block of Clinical Distinction for board review must complete a plan of study and submit it to their Academic Mentor. This requires the completion of a Board Review contract.

Factors to consider when selecting a board review block are:

  • When tests are scheduled:
    • Students should not use a Clinical Distinction for board review if it is too far from when they will take the examination.
    • Students cannot take Level 2 PE until after passing the callback OSCEs.
    • If the examination will be completed before the Clinical Distinction block is over, students cannot do a Board Success track. Instead they should do a specialty track and include time to study for the boards as part of their project.  This is an option if a student would – for example – like a week to study for the COMLEX Level 2 PE and would be happy with a shorter personal course of study. However, this option is not a board success track option.
  • If Board Success will maximize your chance at Residency Selection:
    • The match is designed to help students and programs find a good fit for an intensive training period. Board scores are just one, relatively small factor in the selection.
    • While some students get a slightly higher score on the boards after using the time to study, it is rarely, if ever a statistically significant increase.
  • How much time is needed:
    • All students who self select board study, can choose instead to do a specialty project that allows time to study for the boards. If this option is selected, students should use the “design your specialty project” section of the website. This option allows a student the benefit of time to study for the boards and at the same time develop distinction that will be featured in the Deans letter.
    • If you need 4 weeks, select the board success track

Student Promotions Committee Placement

Students who have been directed to register for Board Success Clinical Distinction based on a recommendation from the Clinical Education Department (CED) or Student Promotions Committee (SPC) are required to adhere to the SPC recommendations including possibly completing an external commercial board review program. Also, students who do not pass the COMLEX exam are subject to the policies described in the Student Handbook and the CED manual.

Completion of these recommendations is required to pass the course. All other requirements are the same as for self selected Board study with the exception of students who end up doing Board review instead of a specialty track. This can happen for two reasons.

  1. Students who are directed to take Board Study are still at risk for passing a different examination or have to take the examination again.
  2. Students who have completed a track other than specialty are directed to take a board study for their second CD opportunity.

Contact your CD advisor if this happens. You will need to use specialty track documentation – not board success forms, so that you have a narrative for your MSPE. Your CD advisor can help you with drafting a narrative for your MSPE and using the specialty track forms for your second Board success track.

Making the Most of Study Time: Combined Board Review Specialty Track

It is possible to study for the boards during other courses – especially the generalist track and specialty tracks, but even during an easy clerkship. The simplest way to ensure study time and not do a board success track is to combine protected study time with any other activities and create a specialty project. Doing so is considered creating a Specialty Track project and you must register for a  Specialty Track, and complete all the requirements for specialty tracks. See the Specialty Track Requirements page for more information.

A Board Review contract is not required if board study time is combined with other activities to create a specialty track.

Factors to consider are:

  • How will you distinguish yourself in your narrative evaluation for your MSPE? Would it be better for you to have two specialty tracks, or a clerkship and specialty track than a board success track?
  • How much time do you need to study for your boards – if you won’t need the full four weeks, this option is a better choice.


To Do list

As with all other tracks the first steps to the Board Success Track are to get approval from your faculty sponsor and to register for the course on time. For Board Success, your Academic Mentor will be your Faculty sponsor. Contact them to discuss your choice and document their approval before completing the rotation request form.

  1. Getting approval: Contact your academic mentor to discuss your choice and document their approval (email will suffice). Do this prior to registering for the course!
  2. Registering for the course: The rotation request form is due 60 days prior to the start date of your course.
  3. Submit a Contract of Study: Board Success Contract Link
    • When it’s due: This contract of study is due on the first day of the course.
      • It’s a good idea to draft it and talk with your mentor about it at least one week in advance so that it can be turned in on day one.
    • Components of the Contract: This contract is an online form which asks you to describe your course of study
      • why you’ve chosen it
      • what you are going to study
      • how you are going to study
      • what schedule you are going to follow
      • how you will determine if you should pass the course
    • Collaboration with your Academic Mentor is Key: Collaboration on your study plan is a tool for success offered to students through this course.
      • You can complete this form independently and send it to your Academic mentor for review by selecting the right option in the online form when directed.
      • You could also draft some ideas and then make an appointment with your Academic mentor to review them before submitting the form.
      • The contract is signed electronically by you and your sponsor
    • How to Fill out the Form: Use this Board Success contract of learning Link and follow the directions to complete your Contract of study for Board Success.
    • Getting Approval: Once you submit your contract your faculty sponsor (academic mentor) will be asked to approve it and submit their approval. When this happens you’ll be notified that you are approved to start your study plan.
    • Save the notification email – it has your link to complete the documentation at the end of the course!
  4. Completion Documentation: Board Success Completion Form
    • When its Due: At the end of the course you must evaluate your work during the course. It’s due on the last Friday of the course.
    • Components of the Completion Form:
      • The link to the online form arrives via email when your project is approved. (SAVE THE EMAIL!)
      • The online form will review what you contracted to do and ask you to describe:
        • If you did anything differently than you planned
        • If you were successful in your plan
        • If you think you passed the course
      • The online form also gives you ample room to discuss your experience in a narrative form.
    • Collaboration with your Academic Mentor is Key: Getting quality feedback through discussion of your form is an option for the Board Success Track.
      • After you submit your self-evaluation the form will be sent to your Faculty Sponsor to review and they will be asked to submit a pass/fail grade or they will ask you for revisions before submitting your grade.
      • If you’re in the class of 2021 you’re find your grades in the Clinical Distinction organization in Canvas.
  5. Course Structure Evaluation: at the end of the course you’ll be prompted by NI to fill out an evaluation of Clinical Distinction.
    • This is different than your self evaluation or completion paperwork, and speaks to the opportunity, tools provided, and structure of the course. It’s due on the last day of the course.


When completing the rotation request form, make sure you have documented approval from your academic mentor or other faculty sponsor first.

  • If you don’t need all four weeks to study, consider doing a specialty project that allows time to study for the boards
  • When you document how you will evaluate yourself as passing the course, don’t write “must pass boards”
    •  there are already steep consequences for not passing the boards – don’t risk adding failed CD course. Consider “did all the studying I said I was going to do and improved as per the rubric on entrustability etc., more specific etc
  • Plan ahead to decrease stress!
    • ask your Academic mentor for approval 70 days prior to the course
    • submit the registration form 60 days prior to the course
    • meet with your academic mentor to discuss your plan 2 weeks before the start of the course
    • submit your contract one week before the start of the course
    • start drafting your evaluation one week before the course ends
    • submit it by thursday or friday on the last day of the course