SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

Best review book for written boards

Discussion in 'Anesthesiology' started by agammaglobulin, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. SDN is made possible through member donations, sponsorships, and our volunteers. Learn about SDN's nonprofit mission.
  1. agammaglobulin

    agammaglobulin 5+ Year Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Now that people are finding out how they did on the written boards, what review books/ practice questions did you find most helpful?
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. ether123

    ether123 Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    i think Hall is pretty good
  4. bonesmd

    bonesmd Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    Open anesthesia
    Anesthesia prep
  5. ether123

    ether123 Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Jan 12, 2013
    Anesthesia prep sucks. M5 has good questions but it is in flash card format and not qbank. Don't know about open anesthesia
  6. funaswc

    funaswc NHNT 5+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    An updated edition of Hall is expected in December...
  7. Jeep23Guy

    Jeep23Guy Texan 5+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    I always did average on my ITE. Never really studied. I started studying for the big day a few months before. Read through big blue twice plus the Jensen course. Did Hall, most of Mathes, and as many ace questions as I could find. That's it.

    Don't recommend my CA-1 to 3 study habits but I guess the result is what matters.
  8. kazuma

    kazuma ASA Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 8, 2009
    Disclaimer, I'm a CA3 and haven't taken writtens yet.

    What do you guys think about Faust? Several people in my class have the new edition and I've flipped through a few pages and it seems like a good review. I've been thinking about buying it but I'm afraid I wouldn't read it. I don't retain information very well if I just sit down and plow through a chapter. But perhaps the Faust chapters are short and concise enough to help keep me interested.

    The method that I've been using for ITE's is using M5 and filling in the gaps with focused reading in Barash. If writtens are anything close to the ITE then M5 would be the best IMO. Its the only QBank I used for the CA2 ITE and I scored well.

    I found open anesthesia helpful if I need to quickly brush up on a topic for an add on case or if I'm waiting for the surgeons to show up and consent the patient. I hate carrying a book with me so going online and doing a few M5 ?'s or OA topics is about the only only reading I do while I'm at work.
  9. Ronin2258

    Ronin2258 Prometheus Unbound 7+ Year Member

    Matthes was mine: anesthesiology

    Had good cross referencing to books and articles for the questions. My only complaint was the questions did not have a related keyword attached to them. I cite this book as a major thing saving my fanny in the last year of training and the Part 1 Examination.

    Open Anesthesia is good. I found the keywords very helpful, and allowed me to cross reference to my main textbook. The questions in the app link to the keyword and articles that relate to them. Very good review questions.

    I used OA and Matthes as my primary question banks, with reviewing the sources they cited on the questions I got wrong.

    I hope Hall goes through some major revisions. I found the last edition severely lacking.
  10. kazuma

    kazuma ASA Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 8, 2009
    I agree, between the paperback and app i've spent almost $200 on hall but its quite outdated. But it was the only q-book I had as a med student and intern.
  11. Ronin2258

    Ronin2258 Prometheus Unbound 7+ Year Member

    Matthes is good. I had board examiners in my program, the clinical competency committee chair, and a few fellowed attendings look it over, because everyone said Hall was the standard, and I was concerned I may have had the wrong book. They thought the questions were quite good, and challenged them. Glad I stuck with it.
  12. michigangirl

    michigangirl 10+ Year Member

    Jan 24, 2003
    I love Faust. In fact I still use it cause I"m not done taking freakin exams-- the chapters are so concise and digestible. Today I pulled it out to quickly review any peds pearls in there for the peds anesthesia boards tomorrow. Had forgotten how much I loved it. For my writtens four years ago, I used Faust, supplemented with Big Blue that I borrowed from a friend. Felt more than prepared. Of course did all the questions I could.
  13. Mr FancyPants

    Mr FancyPants 7+ Year Member

    Mar 19, 2010
    Anesthesia Prep and Hall are garbage for the actual exam....dont bother with these!

    The most high yield for me was ACE questions. I did all from 2006-2013 and the same concepts/topics repeated themselves.

    Second to this was the Matthes book. It was recommended to me by a classmate 2 months before the exam. I flew through it once and wish I had learned that thing cover to was spot on!

    Lastly, I did m5 twice and listened to Jensens audio lectures twice. These were both good, but secondary to the above.

    Never bothered with big blue.... too big, seems outdated. I know 2 guys in my class who used this as their primary source and failed. It was not for me personally....

    Good luck!

  14. shift_roro

    shift_roro 10+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    ACE, M5, Matthes
  15. CaliDreamin4Life

    CaliDreamin4Life ASA Member 2+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Get your hands on as many old ITE and board exams as possible. Concepts are repeated. I can't tell you how much this helped. There's nothing like the real deal
  16. scutdoc

    scutdoc ASA Member 2+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2014
  17. PST02


    Sep 15, 2014
    Having just received my score report from written boards today, my recommendation is that preparation throughout residency (reading on cases and patients daily, working through Morgan and Mikhail early and repeatedly etc.) is the best way to do well (obviously), but as to cramming near the end, ACE exams with the explanations, followed by Hall questions with explanations seemed the most effective to me. I had always done reasonably well on my ITE's through the daily reading without focused studying for these individual exams, but my percentile definitely improved significantly by spending a couple of weeks at the end pushing hard on the ACE and Hall questions. Several questions on the test were almost identical to prior ACE questions. Now of course, this all comes with the caveat that I also found QBank to be my easiest way to study for USMLE exams Step 1-3, so your mileage may vary if you didn't appreciate that study tool on previous exams / have found that questions aren't your thing.
  18. thomfoolery


    Sep 3, 2014
    Having silently used these forums since way back in my shelf exam days to look for exam prep hints, I thought I'd take two minutes to finally post something for future readers. Overall, I did pretty well during residency, but was never a strong ITE performer. I ended up with about 3 solid weeks to focus on prep for this exam, and I was pretty worried about it. I passed with a score slightly above the mean. This was higher than my ITE scores during residency.

    My strategy and sources:

    First, I hit it hard. 8-10 hour days, 4 days on, 1/2 day off. Breaks every 45m in the beginning (plus lunch and dinner), then I gradually increased the length of each session until I was doing two hours each session towards the end (wanted my endurance up for the real deal)

    My primary source, despite the growing number of comments about it's age, was Hall. And it served me very well. Everything on my test was in that book (with the one exception of statistics, which I had to outsource). But I quite honestly MEMORIZED those explanations I did them so much. I'd do the questions, and then make lists of notes from the answer section. Only if there was something that I didn't understand, or I knew I'd had trouble remembering in the past, did I go to another source (I'd look it up in Miller or online). I'd read through all of my notes each night before bed and first thing when I got up (only took 15m or so). The only other source I used consistently was ACE questions. Right from the beginning I thought they were too easy, and I was scoring very high 70s to very low 80s. But it turns out that though the actual ACE questions are easier than the exam questions, a lot of the exam questions are just "shifted" a bit to make them more tricky - the basic questions are the same style and, if you can see through it, the same conceptual or topical difficulty. I did 8 or 9 years worth of ACE questions (maybe it was fewer actual years because of the A and B sections, I'm not sure). I also used the old ITE exams as endurance training, doing one full exam, timed, every four or five days.

    People are always trying to correlate percentages, so I'll say that at the end I was consistently getting mid to upper 70s on ITE questions and upper 80s on ACE questions. These percentages held pretty solid from 20 questions to 120 questions at a time.

    Things that I dabbled with:
    • The Matthes Book - I didn't pick this up until the last 10 days or so, so I was pretty tired and didn't have the energy to totally start over. That being the case, I only got through 500 questions or so. This book looked pretty good in terms of questions and their difficulty level, but I don't think the explanations were as helpful as Hall. The thing with Hall is that you might start out reading an explanation about MH, and end up walking through g proteins, pharmacology, and some immunology. I can't state strongly enough how helpful Hall was within the context of how I used it (basically used the explanations as a narrative source and took good notes)
    • Big Blue - Hated it. There's too much stuff (for me) to just memorize a bunch of charts, numbers, and names. But that's really what Big Blue wants you to do. I got really tired, really fast, of his "Rangers MUST MEMORIZE this bullet list of 50 items" three times on every page. The material is repetitive, outdated, and some of it is outright wrong. I dropped this after a few days and didn't miss it
    • M5 - Everyone seems to really like this, but having not used it during residency, I didn't find it to be good as a focused review resource. I think it would be terrific as a "do the whole thing over and over during residency" resource, in the sense of long term exam prep. My biggest issue with M5 was that it seemed to be written to be tricky, and put me in the wrong mindset for actual exam questions. After going through a hundred or so questions, I found that I was concentrating more on "how is this guy trying to trick me this time" rather than focusing on the idea of the question. I'll agree that the topics are good, and it covers a lot, but it also covers a lot of things in WAY too much depth, and tends to digress away from the thrust of questions into the authors showing off how smart they are (and then ending with "but you probably don't have to know all that for the exam"). Overall, it felt very "academic" to me. As I said, I wish that I had used it all the way through residency, when it would have been a killer resource for learning things the first time, but I just didn't find it to be the right tone, the right difficulty, or focused enough, to be a good prep tool. There are also a fair number of subtle errors (one on fentanyl vs morphine screwed me up for about a week until I was in the bathroom one morning and thought "that just can't be right" and looked it up three other places to make sure) and "up/down" "high/low" typos that you'll have to be careful about.
    • Old ITE Questions - I did some as a study tool, but probably only 200 or so. I decided that I just wasn't getting that much out of them without explanations, especially when I didn't agree with their answer (there are a good number of questions where more than one choice is conceivable, and I'd need the explanation to show me why the board picked the choice they did). What I did end up using these for was simple endurance training, as I noted above.
    In a nutshell, Hall was still gold for me, and I spent the bulk of my review time with it. In the way I used it, I cannot think of a single resource that is stronger. Three weeks was the perfect amount of time for me, as I felt my stamina really decline suddenly towards the end.

    Good luck to future readers of this thread. If I can do it, you can do it.
    FFP likes this.
  19. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Nov 2, 2004
    Rocket Scientist
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    Has anyone been using the new edition of Hall?

    I just got the 5th edition via the iphone app and I've noticed more than a couple of errors. I'm actually pretty disappointed.

    Having done the 4th edition questions, I can tell they changed answers without fully updating explanations. There are questions where the listed answer is incorrect and explanation supports a different answer. The whole thing feels sloppy and rushed.
  20. kazuma

    kazuma ASA Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 8, 2009
    Having bought both the iPad and paperback copies and not being very impressed, I decided to not buy the new edition. That's disappointing to hear, but with the amount of outdated material in the 4th edition, I'm not surprised they didn't put much time in to updating the 5th edition. I tried reading the new Faust but I do better with questions so I'm sticking with M5 again this year. It's treated me well for CA1/CA2, so hopefully I'll be able to finish it again before the ITE in 20 days.

Share This Page