ACEM Fellowship Exam: Out with the old, in with the new

Most of the EDExam readers who are contemplating sitting the ACEM Fellowship exam in the next year or two will already be aware of the upcoming changes to the exam, and will likely have already made a decision about when to sit.  But for those who are tossing the coin about whether to sit in 2014 with the “old” format, or take a punt and postpone until 2015 and the “new” format, it’s crunch time. You need to decide now, as you won’t have enough time to prepare for the 2014.2 exam if you wait any longer.

The new, (and may I say, far more user friendly) ACEM website was launched recently, and there is a detailed page with information about the upcoming changes to the exam. You can access it here, and click on the “2015 Onwards” tab.

From what I can see there’s pros and cons to each option, and I’ve summarised these below:

2014: The last of the “old” style exam


  • Familiar format – every single Consultant you’ve ever met has sat this exam & many will be able to help
  • Mind-boggling amount of preparation/study resources available


  • Average 50-60% pass rate… That’s really like tossing a coin
  • It is insanely hard to prepare for a 6-stage exam
  • The short and long cases in the clinical component are highly subjective and variable, and do not reflect current ED practice

2015: The “new” exam


  • Format seems fairer and more objective (especially the clinical component)
  • Less components to prepare for


  • Like any version 1.0 of anything – it’s a total unknown
  • With just over a year to go, the final question formats, lengths, number and timing have not been published, nor has the marking scheme nor the pass criteria
  • There are essentially no resources to prepare for the new components of the exam (eg E-MCQ’s, the new SAQ’s, and the new parts of the OSCE stations)


So it’s a tough choice. Better the devil you know? Or take a punt on an untested exam?  I’m keen to hear people’s thoughts on the new exam, and also let me know if you have any tips/resources on the new components.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply