8 Tips for passing the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology

February 27, 2019

Tough but doable

8 Tips for passing the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Anthea Pisani is a gastroenterology trainee in Mater Dei Hospital in Malta. She passed the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology in April 2018 and gave a talk about “Tough but doable: A personal view on the exam” in the Young GI Lounge at the subsequent UEG Week in Vienna. Her presentation was very much appreciated, so we asked Anthea to share her top tips for passing the exam in the GI Hive.

So, you have decided to sit for the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology.  Perhaps this was a voluntary decision on your behalf in order to broaden your horizons, or it may be a mandatory aspect of your training. It may be your first attempt or maybe a re-attempt and you might be at the beginning of your training or at the end of it. Either way, good luck with your preparations. Here are some points to help guide you towards becoming a European board certified Gastroenterologist. 

Tip 1: Do remember to register for the exam

This may be rather obvious but it can be a devastating mistake to miss the registration period when you have already been studying hard. The exam is only held once a year, in April. The registration period is from mid-December to mid-January.

Tip 2: Explore the MRCP and the ESBGH websites

Both websites have invaluable information and advice to help you prepare yourself. The MRCP website provides a list of resources that includes guidelines, websites and books. The ESBGH website hosts the Blue Book which contains the curriculum of the exam. I would suggest printing out the curriculum and ensuring you cover each topic that is listed.

Tip 3: Practice, practice and practice those MCQs

And if you have any free time, do practice some more. The examination consists of 200 “best of five” questions, in two papers of 100 questions each, both taken on the same day. Answering MCQs correctly requires certain skills which can only be mastered through adequate preparation.  Such preparation will also give you a good indication of the depth of knowledge and level of English that is required. There are various websites with online questions such as BMJ OnExamination, while the MRCP website has an excellent mock exam.

Tip 4: Use various resources, but make sure they are up to date and internationally recognized

There is a vast range of resources available, from books to guidelines to journals to online websites. However ensure that your resources are as recent as possible since some books might contribute information that is outdated. I would recommend that you cover the latest guidelines.  Opt for those that are internationally recognized since the exam is European and not affiliated to a specific country. Both the ESBGH website and the MRCP website provide a list of recommended guidelines however the principal ones would be BSG, ESGE, EASL and ECCO, which you can find in the UEG Standards & Guidelines repository

Tip 5: Studying can be boring. Explore different ways of doing this

We’ve all been there, sitting down for hours at a stretch trying to go through a seemingly never-ending guideline with a large stack of material still to go through. Thankfully, there are numerous resources that offer a different and innovative way of learning. UEG offers innovative methods of learning, such as online classroom courses, the “Mistakes in…” series and the UEG Week content. In addition, the Postgraduate Teaching Programme organized by UEG follows a 3 year curriculum covers all major topics in the Blue Book. There are also a range of interesting conferences and courses to attend, including courses aimed specifically for those preparing for the exam. 

Tip 6: Team up with colleagues

You don’t have to do this alone. Team up with fellow exam candidates to share notes. Discuss with your seniors. Ask your local radiologist and pathologist for tips on interpreting imaging and histopathology or to point out interesting findings during team meetings. Teach your juniors what you have just learnt. Organize journal clubs within your department. Colleagues are an invaluable asset when preparing from an exam.

Tip 7: Familiarize yourself with the exam format

The exam is computer based, held at a designated centre and hosted by Pearson VUE. Familiarize yourself with the navigation of the test.

Tip 8: Implement what you learn in practice

An excellent way of revising is to include your new-found knowledge into daily practice. This will solidify what you have learnt, give you a new perspective to studying and will also benefit your patients and colleagues.

Good luck!



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