[Histonet] ASCP EXAM

Lee & Peggy Wenk lpwenk <@t> sbcglobal.net
Thu Feb 1 05:18:28 CST 2007

I'm going to wade in a little. Jennifer MacDonald has done a great job with
a lot of the information. (Thanks, Jennifer) So, I'm just going to make a
couple of comments about several questions that have been brought up by
various people.

No, someone can't get a degree, take the test, then apply for a job. For
both HT and HTL, they need to get the degree (AA/AS for HT, BA/BS for HTL),
get 1 year's full-time experience in histotechnology, THEN they can take the

Yes, labs will hire people with the degree and train them on-the-job, OJT.
Most institutions have to - there aren't enough NAACLS accredited HT and HTL
schools in the country.  Open and active, there are 24 HT and 3 HTL programs
in the US. That's not enough. So the majority are still OJT, with great
variation as to level of training and exposure to different tissues and

Correct, no other lab discipline has to "prove" they can "do" the job with a
practical. Microbiologists don't have to plate, phlebotomists don't have to
draw blood, etc. They rely on a written exam only. And now HT/HTL does also.

Passing - if you think about it, there are only 4 different results:
- Pass both written and practical
- Fail both written and practical
- Pass written, fail practical
- Pass practical, fail written

The one category that had the LEAST people was passing the written and
failing the practical.

Most of the time, either the candidate knew how to do the practical AND they
knew the theory (pass both), or they didn't know either (fail both). Then
there was the group of people who could do the work, but didn't know what
they were doing or why, or how to problem solve/troubleshoot when things
went wrong (pass practical/fail written).

Very few people would "know the theory" and pass the written, but then not
know how to do the stains or cut (fail the practical). Usually, if they
never did staining, they didn't know what was in the stain or how to
troubleshoot, so they usually didn't pass the written either.

So the deciding factor turned out to be passing the written part. If
candidates could pass the written, they knew the theory of staining and
troubleshooting microtomy issues, and this usually translated over to doing
a good job on the practical, so they usually passed. If someone didn't know
theory, they usually didn't know what a good stain looked like or what good
tissue looked like, so they failed both the written and the practical.

Of course, there are going to be people responding to this who know someone
who is an example of just the opposite of what I just said. No test -
written or practical - is a 100% determiner. After all, I passed physics,
and I still don't understand electricity - theory or practice.

Also - there is a part of the HT/HTL application where the person attests,
and so does their supervisor/pathologist, that the candidate has experience
in ALL aspects of histotechnology - fixation, processing, microtomy, special
stains. And they have to document their experience.

Yes, I know, they can lie. But these are the same people and institutions
that would have someone else do the stains and sectioning on the practical
exam. But with the new format of relying just on a written exam, the
candidate won't be passing the practical that someone else did. They have to
pass a written exam taken under very controlled circumstances - 2 ID's,
fingerprint, etc. So the person taking the exam really is that person.

One last thing - in my program, I'm still having the students turn in a set
of H&E's and special stains, similar to the ASCP exam. About 25 different
tissues with H&E's and about 10 different special stains (they actually
learn about 50 special stains with me, but they only have to do a practical
of 10 special stain). And I still grade these slides - and they better be
great. This is their last "final" from me - they have to prove that they do
know what good microtomy is, what a great H&E looks like, what good special
stains look like. From what I hear, most accredited HT and HTL programs do
something similar. So hiring a NAACLS accredited graduate should get you
someone with experience and knowledge in sectioning and special stains. (Of
course, there is still personality issues and different levels of ability -
but that's the same as someone learning OJT.)

So what we need are more NAACLS-accredited HT and HTL programs in each state
- in my humble opionion.

Peggy Wenk

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Cheri Miller
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 10:38 AM
To: 'Bartlett, Jeanine (CDC/CCID/NCZVED)'; 'Ra';
Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: RE: [Histonet] ASCP EXAM

I cant believe they stopped the practicum part of the test. I just took it a
few years back. I would never be the tech I am had I not had to practice and
cut hundreds of slides looking for that perfect one or that perfect stain,
tissue etc.  Just my opinion, Cheri

Cheri MIller HT ASCP Histology Supervisor, Phys Laboratory. Omaha Ne

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of Bartlett,
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:22 PM
To: Ra; Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: RE: [Histonet] ASCP EXAM

Are we discussing the HT or the HTL?

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu on behalf of Ra 
	Sent: Tue 1/30/2007 3:09 PM 
	To: Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu 
	Subject: Re: [Histonet] ASCP EXAM

	Funny how that test is so different every time...  I found the
opposite to
	be true.  I had some questions on my cert. exam that were word for
word out
	of the ASCP book.  I found the NSH series to be more of a waste.
	Good luck to anyone taking the test!
	Rhonda B.
	On 1/29/07, MICHELLE SEAGLE <mrsseagle <@t> yahoo.com> wrote:
	> Don't waste your time or money on the ASCP practical exam
questions, what
	> a waste.
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