The new format of the exam will be divided into 2 discrete assessments, a FEx Written and FEx Clinical. Eligibility to sit each section of the exam has been outlined by the college and can be found within the depths of the ACEM website. For current trainees, a flowchart outlining the transition arrangements is available
The changes to the exam are being made with the intention of making it more relevant, more objective and more fair. The college has said that new format exam will focus more on the content of knowledge and skills rather than technique and that candidates should therefore prepare themselves by focusing on attaining consultant level knowledge and skills. Good idea.
The point has also been raised that with the pass mark for the exam being in the order of 50-60% that candidates may as well toss a coin, that it’s a random process. Heads or tails. Pass or fail. Personally I think this is complete nonsense.
I do accept that the pass mark of 50-60% for the exam is lower than ideal. There are a number of reasons for this, some known and some unknown, but randomness is not one of them. I hope that ACEM doesn’t believe that the candidates who have passed (or failed) the current exam have done so by chance. I hope that future candidates don’t believe that their success at the exam is determined by chance. I know my candidates don’t. They are aware that their likelihood of success is for the most part determined by how well prepared they are. This is one thing that will not change with the introduction of the new exam.
What is difficult for me and others who prepare trainees for the fellowship exam is that we don’t yet know what the exam will look like, other than having been given a broad framework (under the tab ‘2015 onwards’). If this is difficult for supervisors it must be downright frightening for trainees planning to sit the exam from 2015 onwards.
What I’d like to do is give prospective fellowship candidates some advice for preparing for the fellowship exam. I believe it will be valid whether you are preparing for the current exam or the new exam format. There are already a number of great resources for advice in preparing for the fellowship exam.
My advice comes from a combination handed down, borrowed, and observed ideas from a number of sources including some of those above and from my previous teachers and colleagues. There’s a significant overlap between what follows and what you may find from other sources. That is to say, I’m not presenting anything original here but I do think it is solid advice. Am I qualified to give such advice? Sort of. But I am not an exam expert. I am not a prize winner. I do however work full time in an emergency department, I am also a DEMT and I have been helping trainees prepare for the exam over the past 4 years. I will admit that I feel less and less like an imposter with each sitting of the exam and each successful candidate.
My 10-Step Guide to Fellowship Exam Success
Click each point for further explanation
Hope that helps.
Disclosure – I am currently co-DEMT in my department and am on the ACEM Fellowship Exam OSCE working party