- “I am going to sit for my CTR exam in two months, how do I study?”
- “What books do I need to get ready?”
- “What course can I take to get prepared?”
Now I always tell my clients I will be completely honest with them, no matter what. So, I’m going to do that here right now, in public, in front of everyone.
The secret to getting ready for your CTR exam is not the shortest or fastest route to studying! It is the slow-and-steady route where you plan and prepare for your exam. I always recommend at least six (6) months or more.
If you are just coming out of a two-year degree program for Cancer Information Management and have had no registry experience, you are not, and I repeat, NOT, ready to take the CTR exam. If they are telling you that in the school programs, they are wrong.
The CTR exam is an investment in your career, your skills and your reputation as a cancer registrar. Isn’t that worth planning and preparing for? Don’t you want your career and reputation to be the best?
So, if you believe in what I’ve just said, here’s the secret:
- Download the CTR exam guide and CTR exam primer from the website, www.ctrexam.org.
- Read these carefully. Highlight the parts that tell you what you need to do.
- Then, get all the materials and books together.
- Look at the exam content outline and your calendar. Divide the material up into however many weeks you have to prepare. That’s your homework assignment for every week. Don’t skip and think you can cram, you will pay dearly for that kind of behavior. If you do miss a day or two during the week, you can make that up. But if you routinely skip then you should push back your exam date.
- Get a mentor. Find an experienced and understanding cancer registrar who can teach you. Ask questions, and I mean TONS of questions. Anything thing you are not 100% sure about, ASK. This is a good habit to develop regardless, but it will pay off on exam day.
- Get your hands on as many abstracting tests and quizzes and examples as you can. As you read about specific primary site topics, do the abstracting quizzes as well. You can never do too many of these! While the exam will put everything in a multiple choice or fill in the blank type of a format, practice is what creates success!
- As you read, write notes, create outlines, setup flash cards, all that stuff you were taught in high school about how to study – use it! It’s not silly or elementary, it’s SMART!
If you do that, stick to your plan and have adequate study time and a good mentor, you’ll pass successfully the first time around. It’s really quite simple.
Now, about the CTR exam prep programs. Make sure whatever short course (ie weekend or 3- or 4-day courses) you take it is geared for the hospital cancer registrar, not a state or central cancer registrar. They are good refreshers and skill builders but they do NOT replace consistent, long-term study. Even the people teaching those courses will tell you that.
So, that’s my words of advice for you today. Take it or leave it, but this is the truth and from the bottom of my heart. I wish you the best of luck and anyone who needs my help is welcome to contact me by using the contact form on this website.
—————————————Michele Webb, is the founder of www.CancerRegistrar.com, and www.CancerRegistryTraining.com, the cancer registrar’s BEST online source for continuing education and training. She is a nationally recognized, certified cancer registrar, coach, mentor, speaker and author and passionately committed to Cancer Registry leadership, education and training. You have permission to repost this article as long as you do not alter it in any way, give a link back to this webpage and give credit to the author.