The annual European Board of Ophthalmology Diploma (EBOD) Examination is due to take place on May 4th-5th 2018 in Paris.
To help YOs prepare for the exam, Clare Quigley (SOE YO newsletter sub-committee member) sits down with Katja Matovic (Slovenia) and Michal Post (Poland), both of whom passed the EBOD with merits, and enquires into their study techniques and exam tips.
Clare Quigley (CQ): Congratulations on winning awards at the EBO examinations last year! What exam advice would you have for candidates preparing to sit the EBO Fellowship exam?
Katja Matovic (KM): No matter how dreadful it seems, in the end the EBO examination is a very pleasant experience!
Michal Post (MP): It’s important to realize the Viva is worth more points than the MCQ. Kanski’s Clinical Ophthalmology was my most important book, because it provides not only theoretical knowledge, but also clinical photos such as fundus images, fluorescein angiography, and OCT. I have also used the AAO Series. YouTube and other educational websites can also provide valuable material as well as a refreshing approach.
The most important thing to remember during preparation is a clinical approach. When studying disease, I ask myself a few basic questions: how to diagnose, how to differentiate, how to treat. Answers to those are the core of Viva part.
CQ: How long a period of study is necessary?
KM: Our residency programme includes 45 days as study leave to prepare for the exam, and I started studying another two months earlier.
MP: To pass, more than about four weeks should be fine, but luck is required! To ace the exam, three to six months are necessary. Of course, it depends on how much time you can commit to studying alongside work commitments, etc.
CQ: did you prepare differently for the MCQ and Viva?
KM: Preparing for both the parts is essentially the same, but with our mentors we have this wonderful opportunity to discuss different clinical cases, similarly to how they are discussed at the Viva part of the exam. During this discussion the examiners do not look for you to directly tell the diagnosis, but it is important to say what diagnostic steps are to be taken, and how the case should be managed.
MP: In my opinion these two were quite different; more attention should be paid to the Viva. The Viva is mostly a clinical and case scenario exam. I find it very useful to study cases, pictures, and photographs in the books I mentioned. Being familiar with international guidelines and diagnostic algorithms is also very useful. Even if you lack theoretical knowledge, but can make rational decisions, you should be fine.
The MCQ is difficult and time consuming to prepare. The paper is more or less equally divided among subjects, e.g. retina, cornea, so it takes time to prepare well in everything.
CQ: What materials did you find most helpful?
KM: Apart from glaucoma that I studied from EGS Guidelines, the book I used was Oxford Handbook of Ophthalmology, which I believe is a great book, which can be nicely supplemented by pictures in Kanski. You have to be up to date with the latest studies, especially the ones in medical retina and glaucoma.
MP: The books I mentioned, Kanski and the AAO Series, are completely enough to pass the EBO Exam. However, to ensure a good outcome it is important to be up to date with latest knowledge. I recommend following the latest congresses like ESCRS, Euretina, AAO and official journals of international organizations.
CQ: What tips would you have for the exam day itself?
KM: Don’t study the day before, and get some good sleep!
MP: I agree- have a good rest the day before. Studying a few days before the exam just makes you tired and stressed – have a trip around Paris instead!
On the day, eat a solid breakfast, and during the exam have sweet drinks with caffeine, and snacks. High levels of glucose, although not very healthy, improve concentration and reduces stress symptoms. Use ear plugs to avoid noise pollution.
CQ: Thank you for your time!
KM: Best of luck to this year’s candidates!
MP: You’re welcome, good luck to people studying for this year’s exam.