Study Tips (continued)
The following study tips and comments were contributed by ACHE affiliates who have successfully taken the Board of Governors exam.
I initially started with a study group of three people. We met every two or three weeks for an hour and a half, and we discussed one or two sections at each session. We would pre-read the sections, read some of the suggested articles, discuss some learning points, individually answer the applicable study questions for the sections, and then share and discuss our results. This proved to be a slow learning process, but a great way to get to know others. We eventually agreed that we all had an adequate knowledge base and that we could probably do just as well studying at our own pace. We broke up the group and went forward.
On my own, what I found to be most helpful was to read through the and study guidelines and the “Review of Exam Knowledge Areas” section in the Reference Manual two or three times to get a general feel for the important information (I read the ACHE-specific section three times). I then reviewed the “Study Hints and Mock Questions” section to get a feel for the expected orientation of the exam questions. I then took the entire sample test at one time, marking questions that I wasn’t sure that I answered correctly. I then reviewed the answer key for any questions that I missed and any marked question that I got right. If necessary, I went back to the “Review” section to see if I could pick up more information to help me understand the correct answer. Although some of the suggested articles were interesting, I don’t think that they greatly added to my knowledge base. I do read some journals; thus I get some of the same general info in my normal reading. I did not read any of the suggested books.
The actual exam was very much like the mock questions and sample test. It was a comfortable setting, and the time flew by. I answered and marked for hold about 25 questions that I wasn’t sure about, and I had plenty of time to go back and finalize my answers.
First and foremost, we had a study group that included individuals from several hospitals. There were about 12 of us in all. We met once a week in the early morning before work and had one presenter. The presenter covered one of the topical sections of the exam in detail. We tried to gear it where a person with “expertise” in that subject matter led the presentation. On one section, “Information Technology,” we asked someone who was outside to come and speak based upon the information in the book. This helped to clarify some of the materials included in the study guide. I also worked every available question in the study guide from ACHE, and if there was something that a question covered (even in a wrong answer) that I didn’t know about, I researched it.
I think that it also helped a great deal that I have been in Internal Audit for over 10 years and have assisted on JCAHO accreditation teams as well as many quality initiatives just as a general background preparation. I also read many journals weekly as a general help to increase my knowledge on an ongoing basis.
I read the following books front to back, marking them all up for later review: The Well-Managed Healthcare Organization, Problems in Healthcare Law, The Financial Management of Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations, Marketing for Healthcare Organizations, and the ACHE Board of Governors exam tutorial and all of the journal articles listed in it. I practiced taking the tests in the tutorial, not just for content but also to practice assessing questions for the best responses. I studied for several months off and on during free time, and then daily for one to two hours for three weeks prior to the exam.
I focused my attention on using ACHE’s tutorial. I appreciated the direction on the topics covered by the Board of Governors exam, and I used the practice test to sharpen my test-taking skills. I was able to identify some subjects in which I needed to increase my knowledge. I did not utilize the reference materials identified in the tutorial; however, I believe these could be a great help.