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Self-assessment colour review of clinical neurology and neurosurgery
  1. D E Bateman

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    Neil Kitchen, Hadi Manji, Guy M McKhann II. London: Manon Publishing, 2003, pp 192, £16.95. ISBN 1-84076-011-7

    Time was when none of us would have considered voluntarily using self-assessment as a form of learning. Exams were feared and to be avoided. This book shows that some progress has been made and modern learning methods may have some validity! It is a small slim book, which makes a welcome change. It is based on the idea of using self-assessment to aid and encourage learning. On the right hand pages are a series of questions with the answers on the succeeding left hand page to prevent easy cheating! The questions are randomly set, which avoids prejudice but does not allow someone to revise a particular topic very easily. Most of the questions are based on spot diagnoses, particularly of CT scans. The pictures and scans are very well reproduced and of much higher quality than in many textbooks. The discussion and explanations are generally well written and informative. It is up to date and has many questions on management. However, there are too many acronyms. Although there is a good glossary at the front, it is irritating for the novice to be repeatedly flicking back and forwards.

    The introduction does not clearly state the target audience. It is too complicated for MRCP candidates in this country; and neurology registrars, to whom I showed it, found it too simple—while they might enjoy a quick glance on a train journey, I doubt whether they would buy it. Because the questions are based largely around CT scans or other illustrations, most are spot diagnoses rather than the complicated case histories of the NEJM CPC kind with an illuminating differential diagnosis; so there are few insights into the diagnostic process.