Re: [Histonet] Question about taking test

From:Derek Papalegis

I have my BS and have been in histology for over 3 years and I finally 
found the time to take the HT exam. I found the test to be flawed in 
many aspects and didn't let me accurately demonstrate my knowledge of 
histology. I knew Carson's book and Bancroft and Gamble's book from 
front to back and was extremely confident when I walked into the test.. 
After going through the test, I didn't feel as confident until I saw the 
tiny word on the screen that everyone wants to see: "PASS". The problem 
I had with the test is that histology is a very visual discipline. We 
are expected to be able to view slides and determine what stain was used 
and if that stain is adequate. The pictures on the exam were frequently 
blurry, the colors were skewed (the red in trichrome was a pale brown) 
and seemed to intentionally try to confuse the test taker instead of 
merely testing the knowledge of the person taking the exam. Over the 
years I have seen many slides that were not acceptable and could 
accurately trouble-shoot them but the slides on the exam were not even 
close to being acceptable. The ASCP set such high standards for stains 
when there was a practical portion of the exam but they seemed to drop 
the ball when they set the standards for the pictures that they use for 
the computer portion.

That is my two cents... I feel that someone could know the subject 
material extremely well but then be tripped up by the seemingly 
intentionally misleading pictures and questions on the test.

Derek Papalegis HT (ASCP)
Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine
Tufts University 
136 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02111
phone: 617 636-2971
fax: 617 636-8354

Lee & Peggy Wenk wrote:
> There are two parts to qualifying to take the HTL exam. First, the BS degree
> with 30 hours of biology AND chemistry combined plus a minimum of 1 year's
> experience within the last 10 years under pathologist certified by the
> American Board of Pathology in Anatomic pathology (or the equivalent of a
> PhD.
> Second, the experience must be within the last 10 years, and cover fixation,
> microtomy, processing and staining. There are no other specifications.
> So the microtomy CAN be just frozen sections (or just plastics, or just
> paraffin, etc.).
> So the staining CAN be just H&E.
> (BTW, This experience criteria is the same for the HT exam.)
> Now, with that said, the exams WILL have questions covering ALL aspects of
> histotechnology - fixation, processing, decalcification, microtomy (frozen
> and paraffin), all special stains, IHC, tissue ID for all tissues, enzymes
> on the HTL, safety, equipment, lab math, etc.
> So anyone who works in just one specialty area (Mohs, derm, GI, etc.), will
> be at a disadvantage. They will need a lot of books, atlases, and a lot of
> time to learn all that is required. They can pass, but it will take a lot
> more work than someone who routinely sees a variety of tissues and does a
> variety of special stains. The last two cycles of HTL exams, 51% and 70% of
> applicants were able to pass the HTL exam.
> Peggy A. Wenk, HTL(ASCP)SLS
> William Beaumont Hospital
> Royal Oak, MI 48073
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of Robyn
> Vazquez
> Sent: Monday, June 04, 2007 3:25 PM
> To:
> Subject: [Histonet] Question about taking test
> Hello, I have a question to ask.  I have a co-worker that is interested in
> taking the test and has a B.S.  We work in a Mohs lab, but not an actual
> histology lab where we would do special stains. She has been here almost 4
> years doing mostly Mohs surgeries, very little paraffin processing.  As I am
> understanding it, is that she would have to have 1 year experience in a
> histology lab doing special stains and paraffin cutting and processing?
> Since they don't make you do special stains and send them in, then she would
> have to prove that she can perform a special stain and that is where the 1
> year experience comes in?
> Thanks
> Robyn
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