November 2021

Members & Publications


Top Five Ways to Prepare for the SAE-R

Christian Roehmer, MD


Christian Roehmer, MD
PGY3, Vanderbilt University Medical Center PM&R Program


The AAPM&R Self-Assessment Exam for Residents (SAE-R) is an annual 150-question multiple choice exam that embodies the core ACGME milestones for PM&R residency. The SAE-R provides an opportunity for PM&R residents to evaluate their understanding of core competencies and can be used by residents to track their growth throughout residency. 

Here are the top five tips for preparing for the SAE-R:

1. Start early and be consistent

Residency is a marathon, not a sprint! Make a schedule to stay on-track with your studying. Regular studying is important for consolidation of knowledge and will eliminate the temptation to 'cram' before the test.

2. Immerse yourself clinically

Embrace each rotation during residency. Review literature relevant to your patients and study review materials in parallel to your rotations. Be sure to ask your attendings when questions arise.

3. Utilize resources that work best for you

Many excellent study resources are available. Choose resources that work well for your learning style. If you learn best by reading, consider review books such as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Board Review. If you are an auditory learner, there are several great podcasts available related to PM&R. For visual learners, consider trying in-person or online review courses. Lastly, if you learn by doing questions, check out AAPM&R's practice SAE-R exams.

4. Build from your foundation

PGY-2: Take the SAE-R with the goal of setting a foundation and finding your baseline.

PGY-3: Utilize your score from the previous year to identify weaknesses and to improve.

PGY-4: Fine-tune your score and use the exam to help you prepare for boards.

5. Don't stress!

Trust your training and the knowledge base that you've developed throughout residency. The SAE-R is meant to be used as a self-assessment tool for your growth as a resident and a doctor.