Anaesthesia and Critical Care: An Exam Revision Companion. C. Dodds, N. Soni Churchill Livingstone: London, UK, 2003, 338 pp; indexed, illustrated ISBN: 0-443-07152-7; Price £21.99
Yet another examination revision companion! Books of this genre appear to function as a kind of talismanic comfort blanket with their publishing success relying on examinees' ‘perceived omission neurosis’. This is the pre-examination compulsion to buy as many revision books as possible, in the misguided hope that the answers to all possible examination questions are contained within their contents. Failure to read any of the books automatically portends a disastrous examination outcome. This seems, however, to take no account of whether the examinee actually has time to read the books in depth, or not!
For a revision aid to justify praise, it needs to stand out from the crowd. A book of 5000 multiple choice questions (MCQs), for example, would be noteworthy. However, this book follows a rather tired old format: 3 sets of 90 MCQs, 8 sets of 12 short answer questions and 4 sets of 10 clinical scenarios. The MCQs are relatively standard, and roughly of a difficulty similar to that encountered in the Final Fellowship Examination of the Royal College of Anaesthetists in the UK. The short answer questions cover standard topics and are well referenced for further reading. The ‘clinical scenarios’ are the most impressive part of the book, common questions with well-structured and educational answers. The information provided is up to date and comprehensive throughout, the diagrams clear and relevant.
In summary, no better, no worse than the myriad of other titles in the examination revision stable. My advice: ‘save your money and spend your time thinking about answers, rather than trying to cram them by rote!’
S. M. White