Anatomic Pathology Board Study Tips

Brian G Caserto   DVM   Dipl. ACVP

October 4, 2010

Kansas State University

Manhattan, Kansas

Helpful Hints for the ACVP Certification Exam

1) Veterinary Pathology Section:  I selected Small Animal, Large Animal and Laboratory Animal pathology.

  • Journal Articles

○      Expect specific questions from journal articles. Our study plan included detailed notes and multiple choice questions for Veterinary Pathology and JVDI, with journal summaries from J Comp Path, JAVMA, JVIM, JAALAS, Comp Med, AJVR, and Tox Path.

○      I recommend making multiple choice questions after the style used by the ACVP exam.  I would have benefitted from making more questions from the lab animal articles in Vet Path, JVDI, Tox Path, and JAVMA, and AJVR.

○      It is not sufficient to use the abstracts only when making journal summaries.  We were told this during the Gross Pathology course, and it applies to lab animal articles as well as domestic animal articles.

  • Percy and Barthold is probably not enough by itself, but this was my main resource for rodent and rabbit pathology.  Notes from POLA, the Gross Path course and Journal articles should be studied as well.
  • Make use of the CL Davis and AFIP courses, especially POLA.
  • McGavin and Zachary’s Pathologic Basis of Veterinary Disease (PBVD) was the basic text I used to prepare for the large and small animal sections.  This text was supplemented by reading from Jubb, Kennedy, and Palmers Pathology of Domestic Animals (J&K).  I would read from J&K when I had a necropsy case, and that would help round out my knowledge of the subject.
  • I don’t think you need to study articles about ferrets, birds, reptiles, amphibians or wildlife for the Vet Path sections unless you choose the exotics and wildlife portion of the exam.

2) General Pathology Section:

  • Expect questions from recent review articles and other journals about general pathology.  Use the current ACVP reading list to pick journals to read to supplement Robbins and PBVD.

○      Make multiple choice questions from the articles, Robbins, and PBVD.

  • Do not neglect PBVD.  There is some specific information that can show up on the exam.
  • Some questions that show up I had no idea where they came from.

3) Gross Pathology:

  • Make sure you study the gross images from the Journals you are reading.  Images from journals can show up on the exam, and you should know the correct diagnosis.  In general I dont think they would deduct points if the lesion is common to several diseases, but you should be familiar with unique lesions that are published in journals.
  • In general Noah’s Arkive and the Gross Pathology Course are a great way to prepare.
  • Make gross quizzes for each-other, and include all the second tier questions, such as pathogenesis, clinical pathology, associated lesions etc. Consult the ACVP website for specifics.
  • Quiz yourself often, and for lesions that may be common to several diseases have the most common one in mind.
  • Choose a pathogenesis for likely lesions, and make sure you have that set in your mind.  You dont want to be taking 30 seconds to think of the pathogenesis during the exam.
  • Some exotics and wildlife pathology could show up, so pay attention to the photos from journals.
  • Be familiar with  gross pathology of rodents, rabbits, and primates.
  • I made powerpoints of all the gross photos from journals from 2006-May 2010.  Some people prefer to put photos in their journal summaries if they do them in Word documents.

4) Histopathology:

  • Reading and writing slide descriptions is the best way to prepare. Most of the points are allocated to the description.

○      Make sure you look at and describe all the main features of the disease process, as well as any secondary changes.

○      Be aware of multiple etiologies (so called “double whammy’s”)

○      Practice timing yourself at 5 slides per hour, or 12 minutes per slide.  That will give you an extra half an hour to go back and check your work.

○      During your last year practice doing sets of 10-20 slides every week, to make sure you have the stamina to write for long periods of time.

○      During the exam I found my time per slide increased, so be aware of your time.  This might have been due to the conditions in the exam room.  I was literally shivering even with a coat on, and my hands were freezing.

  • Practice describing things that scare the heck out of you- you’ll get better at dealing with strange things you haven’t seen before.
  • Try to get as much exposure to slides from slide conferences like the AFIP WSC, MAVP annual meetings, AAVLD meetings, and use AFIP VSPO for helpful hints.
  • The AFIP descriptive pathology course is a great practice test.
  • Try to have a Mock Exam every year, and make connections with other residents and try to get their exams.
  • Be familiar with normal ultrastructure and common pathologic changes.  Be prepared to identify the tissue based on the EM.

○      It is possible to have an EM from a journal article, so pay attention to those as well.

  • Practice cytological descriptions.
  • Study common immunohistochemical stains, and be familiar with the ones that show up in journals.
  • Be familiar with the common histiologic  lesions of the common diseases of rodents, rabbits and primates.
  • I made powerpoints with all the EM photos from journals from 2006- May 2010.  It helps get you familiar with the normal and abnormal features you might see on the exam.
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