BE PREPARED FOR AN UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE IN 2019
(1) I took the experimental Pre-PTE Exam in Baltimore 1997 - Normal written test with video tape segments (tapes??). Pretty tough. No score, no credit, but at least I got to pay big money to take the test that didn't count. And at least the seafood was good in Baltimore. (I kept thinking that only cardiologists should be taking this test; Maybe Savage, Aronson, Cahalan, and Perrino, too.)
(2) Took the real PTE Exam in Seattle 1998 - Does it rain 24 hours a day in Seattle? Roughly the same format as Baltimore. (Again, I kept thinking that only cardiologists should be taking this test.) Thought I was now board certified. Not so. Had submit more documentation for formal approval.
(3) Took the RePTE 2007 in Canada (Montreal, or Toronto or someplace in Canada; I can't remember.) All I know is in Canada it is cold, the cities are very clean, and the street people all have cellphones even though they live in cardboard boxes. The test format changed dramatically. To my recollection, they presented several questions, then showed a video, then switched back to the questions. Who thought up that bright idea??? I guess the test question people were unaware that you can actually show text and video AT THE SAME TIME. (Again, and again, I kept thinking that only cardiologists should be taking this test.) I didn't discover this bizarre test format until a couple of days prior to the test when I played the Tommy Burch CD-ROM (Conquer the PTEeXAM) which didn't work the first time around. Tommy was gracious enough to send me a playable CD-ROM and a boatload (kayak-load?) of photocopied sample test questions. (I'm thinking that this is a smart guy.) I don't know why he was such a nice guy to a complete stranger.
(4) Took the RePTE 2018 in Florida???? What, I don't have to travel?? Well, this should be cheaper and more pleasant. (It was really expensive to travel to Canada. Then came the SHOCK;
-- Come in and register with the "Testing Service," because the NBE, SCA, ASE or whoever doesn't run the test anymore.
-- Stand at attention, empty all your pockets, and turn your pockets inside out. All contents will be examined and placed in a locker including any watches.
-- Be prepared to be scanned with a metal detector. (At least no cavity search. I don't recall if they asked me to open my mouth.)
-- Take your glasses off so they can examined for video cameras or other transmitting devices.
-- Turn it any writing devices because they might contain video cameras.
-- No paper allowed for calculations, You have to use an overworked and dirty dry-erase board with a dry-erase pen that has a smashed tip. They might give you another pen, reluctantly, but there is no guarantee that the replacement pen is any better, What????? You want a new pen for your $600 test? Guess again. I don't know about you, but I don't usually do math on a dry-erase board. Do yourself a favor and go pick one up at Walgreen's or wherever and practice on it. (Staples didn't have the right size - about 8.5" x 11"; I am not sure about the centimeter size.)
-- The people at my "Testing Center" were not happy people. They looked overworked and not interested in being helpful. And quite frankly, I cannot blame them. They have to deal with all sorts of people taking the test - doctors, lawyers, candle stick makers, police recruits, federal employees, etc. And some of them are very noisy test takers. The guy on the other side of the cubicle sounded like he was typing a book chapter. Then when he was done, he jumped up an gave himself a "high-five" because he felt he had done such a good job. From my point of view I thought he was vaulting over the partition wall to attack me.
-- You can take bathroom breaks at certain points throughout the test. The rest room was right down the hall. Only one problem. The rest room was "Out of Order" and no other nearby rest room was available. So don't drink any water before the test, and you are not allowed any water bottles in the test, because they might contain hidden video cameras.
--The actual test format was a little better. Unfortunately there were too many static pictures. Those of us performing TEE exams are use to video that moves, not still pictures. It's easy to design a question and attach a still picture that you have looked at many times; not so easy if you are on the other end. I really don't understand why there are any still shots, especially still shots of congenital abnormalities. I love the review material with attached still pictures stating "This is a classic still picture of TOF with a William's Syndrome gene defect and a club foot with syndactyly." And I swear there were questions that stated "Use still videos 18-19 to answer this question," when motion video 17 (from the same patient) would have made answering the question much easier.
-- Be prepared to answer questions about other organs than you never look at. There were questions about the spleen and kidneys. And believe it or not they showed a picture of a vertebral body by rotating the TEE probe 180 degrees within the esophagus. It kind of looks like a "ghost image" floating on the screen.
-- Tommy Burch warns you in his videos that you may see questions that you feel are unfair (Middle Cardiac Vein?????), and he is right. I don't understand why some of the "off the wall' questions were on the test. It may be redundant, but I kept thinking to myself that only cardiologist should be taking this test.
PS: Many thanks to Tommy Burch, even if he can't get compression/expansion straight. Is this guy not the smartest person on the planet? Certainly, he is the best lecturer. (Do those fish survive if you de-hook and kiss them before returning them to the see?)