Doctor B.

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I just sent of my application and paid the painful application fee and now my thoughts have turned to studying for boards. So, I thought I'd start a thread for those preparing for path boards or those who have already taken boards to post their thoughts and strategies for board prep. Thanks in advance!
 

deschutes

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I found Joe Chaffin's website (http://www.bbguy.org/ ) and the quiz questions on it to be quite helpful on my BB rotation.

The graduating class has got this weekly group study thing going where they're currently looking at the JHU unknown cases, I think. (I don't have the website for that)

The second-year class was also trying to get a boards study group going... really. :laugh:
 

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Doctor B. said:
I just sent of my application and paid the painful application fee and now my thoughts have turned to studying for boards. So, I thought I'd start a thread for those preparing for path boards or those who have already taken boards to post their thoughts and strategies for board prep. Thanks in advance!
Ah, path boards. Great memories...NOT. Anyway, my general thoughts about the AP/CP exam (and subspecialty exams as well--they'll all pretty much the same). No matter what anyone tells you, this is the truth. The boards are hard. They try to trick you. They want you to fail.

My tips for passing:
1. There are no shortcuts. The way to pass is to put in the time studying. Period. Sounds easy enough, but it requires months and months of hardcore, dedicated, intense study. Don't buy the hype that some try to dish out, like, "All I did was read Robbins and I passed". Bullcrap. Everyone who has passed this exam studied their asses off. Its not like USMLE where you can kind of study for a few weeks and still pass it. This is different.
2. The AP boards love to test you on common lesions presented in uncommon locations. For example, they may give you a slide of a melanoma in-situ, from a biopsy taken from the larynx. They want you to think, "well, that looks like melanoma, but it can't be if its from the larynx." It can be and it is. Don't be distracted by the anatomic location. They loooove doing this.
3. The ABP is obsessed with testes and ovaries. Know lesions involving these organs cold.
4. The CP exam is a bear. They always show lots of micro and heme pictures, and that is strightforward enough. They put in a couple of blood bank panels. Maye three. Not enough to make a real difference. They do over-represent molecular path. Tons of it and very complicated. Basically, I read McClatchy cover to cover, read Koneman for micro, the AABB standards book, and hoped I'd have a good day guessing (fortunately, I did).

Thats about it. Don't be intimidated. Just know and repect the mountain in front of you that you must now climb.

Good luck.
 
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hzma

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Just wondering, How good are Osler's course and notes?
 

deschutes

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Discovered Osler in person fairly recently - currently using the notes to guide my bloodbank study. It's a rather nice outline so far, for studying prospectively vs. retrospectively! Heard the course itself is rather overwhelming, but that's all I know. I'm a lousy auditory learner myself.

I have a question of my own - are there any other question-bank-type study sources now that the RISE questions aren't released?
 

DrBloodmoney

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For CP I really like the Quick Compendium to Clinical Pathology by Mais put out by the ASCP. It is down and dirty. No substitute for source textbooks but a great cram book.
 

pathdawg

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hzma said:
Just wondering, How good are Osler's course and notes?
The Osler is ok. I thought the AP portion was better than the CP (except Chaffin's lecture, which is very good). Osler is kinda like pathology bootcamp.

The best part IMO was the study slides and the practice practcal exam they have. They were good preparation for the test. Many of the lectures they offer are broad summaries of the given field, rather than board prepartory in nature. That was probably my biggest complaint. For example, a cytology lecture may talk about fluid cytology and say, "This is a mesothelial cell. They have rounded edges and windows in between them". D'uh. I would rather have seen, "Here's how the ABP is going to try to trick you when they show you a benign mesothelial cell." There wasn't enough of that.

If you're going to do the Osler course, definitely take time to review all of their slides and do the practical exam as well.
 

Doctor B.

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I've opted not to do the Osler course mainly because the cost-to-benefit ratio for me is too high. I can't sit for that long for 7 days and retain anything meaningful. But that's just me. I know other people who swear by the course.

I do plan on getting the lectures and going through them with the notes at my own pace.

I'm also amazed at people who can read something like Koneman, McClatchey or Henry all the way through. I'd rather watch Kangaroo Jack every day for a year that slog through those immense tomes. Okay, not really.
 

DrBloodmoney

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Doctor B. said:
I've opted not to do the Osler course mainly because the cost-to-benefit ratio for me is too high. I can't sit for that long for 7 days and retain anything meaningful. But that's just me. I know other people who swear by the course.

I do plan on getting the lectures and going through them with the notes at my own pace.

I'm also amazed at people who can read something like Koneman, McClatchey or Henry all the way through. I'd rather watch Kangaroo Jack every day for a year that slog through those immense tomes. Okay, not really.
Do you want to know how I do it... Even though they read like a freaking airplane repair manual they are tolerable in small doses. I do 20 pages a day. 20 pages a day and you can read Henry in two months. You can read Koneman in 2 months. Rosai in 3.5. It's a pretty good system for me. I read more on the weekends or if I'm on lighter rotations, but I can do 20 pages a day during surg path rotations.
 

Doctor B.

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I could probably do that but I don't think I'd remember squat from it. That's my problem with big texts is that I don't retain enough from them to make it worth it.
 

hzma

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In retrospect, is there something you could have done in your 1st/2nd/3rd years that wouldv'e made the preparation process easier? For ex, studying certain books like from the beginning? Or something?
 

Doctor B.

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hzma said:
In retrospect, is there something you could have done in your 1st/2nd/3rd years that wouldv'e made the preparation process easier? For ex, studying certain books like from the beginning? Or something?

Reading daily. I was a slacker for most of residency and didn't read enough. Now I'm busting my butt to cram a bunch of knowledge in my wee brain. Of course, this pattern has worked for me throughout all my education. But it would have been nice to have kept up on reading.
 

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Does any of you have the ASCP material for path boards?? I am interested in them. Can't afford to go to them. The course is $ 900 .
Please let me know
 

Adrian Cocot

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At the March 2006 CAP meeting they had two folks that recently took (and passed) the boards give a morning session about the boards. Everything from the practical (where to stay, where to eat, what to bring, what to wear, where to get loaded afterwards) to the preparatory (what to read, what sources to use, etc).

Rosai and Sternberg were the most commonly used texts for AP, along with, believe it or not, pathology outlines. for CP, the Pearls book and Henry were the most commonly read texts. And the ASCP review course is apparently better for CP than the Osler stuff. At least for Chemistry. Your mileage may vary.

Also, if you're a fourth year and worrying, here's a tidbit that ought to calm you a little -- since the ABP moved to an objective-based test (i.e. last year), the pass rates went up a couple of solid percentage points.
 

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Your RISE score is also predictive of how you will perform on the boards. Supposedly, people that score in excess of 500 overall on the RISE have an excellent chance of passing boards.

Multiple people told me that this last year's RISE very closely simulated the boards in difficulty.
 

simonsays

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If you can read and retain Koneman, Henry, and Sternberg, then by all means, that would be the best way to study.

My brain is incapable of processing that much info in a short period of time. I read those books during the course of my residency, as needed. I didn't sit down and read them cover to cover. Actually, I've probably read a grand total of 2 pages of Henry and I still passed.

Here's what I did:

AP seemed harder to study but I felt I was more prepared for it. I read Haber (Differential Dx). Practically all of it. It is in no way comprehensive, but it is highly repetitive, which was very helpful for my weak mind. That's pretty much it. I listened to the Osler MP3s for some of the areas that I felt weak in. My general advice is to look at lots of pictures if you're going to listen to Osler for AP.

CP was, as someone said before, a bear. You cannot overstudy for this nightmare, but the bottom line is, you won't feel like it helped. So prepare for the hopelessness!

That being said, Quick Compendium of CP is a good study source. Once again, not comprehensive, but good for cramming. I used Clinical Lab Pearls during residency, but didn't find it very helpful for boards. Osler was good for Blood Bank, as everyone knows, and also for Micro as long as it's that woman who does the LA course. She manages to shrink Micro down into a reasonable amount of info to digest. Osler is also good for lymphoma, the rest of heme is not very helpful. Maybe someone else can comment on how to study for chemistry. I studied it a great deal and felt like I learned nothing.

I think last years rise was fairly similar to the boards. The only thing that is shocking is how grossly overrepresented forensics is on the AP rise (20% of total content) when compared to the boards (maybe 5 questions).

If you're like me and have a hard time mastering a large volume of information, I would also skip reading those first chapters in Robbins. Too much info! My advice to the junior residents who want to know what to do is to read Robbins now. It holds a massive amount of information and if you can read it a couple of times before boards, you will do yourself a big favor.

Good luck.
 

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Remembrances are pretty much the single most efficient way to prepare. But I can neither confirm nor deny their existence. Osler would be a distant no.2.

Reading around 15+ texts would be the tried and true method. If you have the time, I would suggest that.
 

PathOne

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It's hard to suggest a golden way to pass, as individual study habits differ so much. Example: two friends of mine hit the Dermpath boards last year, which aren't exactly a walk in the park either. One mainly did "board boot camps" (i.e. on-location boards seminars) and some of Bernie Ackerman's tomes, and was happy with that. The other read Weedon, Lever and McKee/Calonje's clinical dp 2-volume monster, cover to cover, and was equally happy with that :eek:

Bottom line is, that both individuals passed. Way back when, I personally thought that Rosai/Ackerman was the Holy Bible (no blasphemy intended) of Pathology. Really wouldn't want to think about what do do if I had to sit for the boards now. Know your study style, and find the tools that'll benefit you the most.:luck:
 

pathdawg

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Do the previous Rise questions help for the boards??
In my experience (which may not apply since I took the AP/CP years ago now) the answer is no. I thought there were no similarities between the RISE and the boards. Obviously, ymmv.

Board remembrances are ok. The only way that is tried and true is to see as much as you can and put in some serious time. Anything less than full devotion to studying won't get it done. Thats the honest answer. However way to put in the time is up to the individual. For that, there is no single answer.
 
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