This exam is an incredibly challenging exam that requires a large amount of time, effort, persistence and diligence.

In this lesson we will outline a rough guide to what you should do prior to embarking on study.

Setup for success!

Organisation and Preparation for the exam

How long should I study for?

The advice that may of us received is that we need to do about 1000hrs of study. This means about 20 hrs per week for 50 weeks!

This is an incredible about of work considering we need to fit 20 hours of study around full-time work and all our other commitments.

This can roughly be broken down into studying 2 hours every week night with about 10 hrs of study on the weekend.

There’s a common saying that you want to do this exam once and do it right.

It would be challenging to pass this exam with less than 12 months of focussed study

What resources do I need access to?

Use this list as a checklist to ensure you have everything covered. There are many resources that can be used to prepare for this exam and you will need to tailor these to your own study style.


Professional memberships

Register with ANZCA

  • This is the main specialist credentialing body
  • Necessary to sit the exam
  • Gain access to the library and professional documents and their educational initiatives including webinars, courses and other teaching

Register with the ASA

  • This is the main organisation that represents private practice anaesthetists.
  • They provide a number of educational resources and trainee membership is usually much more affordable

Join the Australian Medical Association (AMA)

  • This is our main enterprise bargaining body or union.
  • If you have any workplace issues, they will represent you (saving you time and effort needed for study!)

Join a medical indemnity insurance company

  • This body will represent you in case of any claims of negligence and even pay disputes
  • There are many insurers you could choose from
  • The largest is AVANT, but there are many to choose from including MIPS, MDA National and Tego.
  • Even if you are working in a public hospital you need to have your own indemnity insurance

IT systems

Ensure you have a stable and relatively new computer, tablet and smartphone

  • You will collect and have to sort through a large number of documents and notes.
  • You do not want your computer crashing at the last moment.

Backup data

  • Use an easy to access backup system such as dropbox
  • Go to and sign up for a paid account
  • I use a 2Tb account that allows storage of all my work and personal documents which are easily accessible on my computer and via the dropbox website.
  • Check out these videos to help you set this up on a Mac and PC.

Anaesthesia and Exam Preparation courses

This will be a key step to accelerating your learning!

You will not only learn the knowledge, frameworks and current trends in Australian anaesthesia but you will meet other trainees and consultants and be able to network with them.

These courses are generally an essential part of your ability to pass this exam

Essential Courses

Advanced Life Support (ALS2) course

  • Gain an understanding of the common approach to and language we use around deteriorating patient and arrest scenarios.

Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS)

Emergency Management of Anaesthetic Crises (EMAC)


Beneficial Courses

Emergency Trauma Management (ETM) course

  • A newer concept that seems to be more up to date in terms of its content than EMST

Viva Boot Camp

  • This is my original viva preparation course aimed at training language structures around our ANZCA final exam
  • We run through many case scenarios in an interactive fashion to drill the most difficult aspects of the viva exam


ACE course

  • A critical care oriented airway training course
  • very applicable and similar to NATCAT
  • An alternative to this course in other states is the PROMPT (Practical Obstetric Multi Professional Training) course


  • A crisis management course by Western Health in Victoria specifically tailored to Obstetric Crises
  • An alternative to this course in other states is the PROMPT (Practical Obstetric Multi Professional Training) course

Anaesthesia Textbooks

Most of these textbooks will be available through the ANZCA library or as an app. It can be useful to have hardcopies for ease of use and to be able to annotate.

The books highlighted as “must use” provide good foundations to build on your knowledge for this exam.

Examination Anaesthesia (Thomas, Butler)

  • Great comprehensive overview of our ANZCA exam.
  • Really useful for the section on the medical vivas and data interpretation
  • Must use

Oxford Handbook of Anaesthesia

  • Best short summary of all the important surgeries and medical conditions as they relate to anaesthesia
  • Must use

Clinical anaesthesiology (Morgan Mikhail Murray)

  • Great summary of pretty much all topics in more detail than oxford handbook
  • Many would use


  • Very comprehensive “Bible of anaesthesia”
  • Most people use this as a reference but do not use regularly . The thoracics, airway and electrical safety chapters are highly recommended
  • Can be accessed via college online textbooks

Stoeltings Anaesthesia and coexisting disease

  • Great for  anaesthetic issues associated with all the random medical conditions we may encounter. Each section isn’t that long or detailed, so provides a concise picture of relevant issues.
  • Many would use

Acute Pain Medicine scientific evidence

  • Amazing (and free) resource- available on the ANZCA website.
  • Provides answers to many MCQs.
  • Get a copy!

ATLS manual

  • The manual associated with the EMST/ATLS course
  • A useful reference guide for management of major trauma

A few recurring themes : initial trauma management, estimating degree of haemorrhage, chest injury, airway injury.

Yao and Artusio’s Anesthesiology

  • I found this book really helpful after I had gone through ‘syllabus’ the first time.
  • It has a relatively novel approach to the usual topics with some tricky questions.
  • Most would buy

Benumof’s Airway Management

  • Useful resource
  • On college website as online book

Anaesthetic Viva texts

Clinical Anaesthesia Viva Book (Barker, Mills, Maguire)

  • Great for viva practice with mates and for a brief summary of main issues for SAQs
  • Must buy

10 Year Viva Collection

  • Useful collection.
  • Most vivas are repeated but often similar themes keep reappearing
  • They expose you to some questions you may have never thought about even if you know a topic really well.
  • Download here

Clinical cases in Anesthesia (Reed)

  • Presents topics in a slightly different way and asks questions you would not have thought about previously

Anaesthesia Crisis Management handbook

Medical Viva textbooks

Clinical examination by Talley and O’Connor

  • Need to follow this format for your examination
  • Borrow it from a physician colleague.

150 ECG problems

  • A must to become familiar with the usual ECG abnormalities
  • Clinical Anaesthesia Viva Book (Barker, Mills, Maguire)


Drugs in anaesthesia and intensive care (Smith and Sasada)

Pharmacology for Anaesthesia and Intensive care (Peck, Hill and Williams)

  • The best clinically relevant summary of all anaesthesia medications

Drug Doses (Frank Shann)

  • A must for paediatric dosing
  • Has all adult doses as well


  • A Guide to Pediatric Anaesthesia  (Sims, Craig, Johnson). This is available as a downloadable eBook from the ANZCA library. It is well structured as an easy to read reference on common paediatric anaesthetic issues.
    • CEACCP articles
      Clinical Anaesthesia Viva Book (Barker, Mills, Maguire)


Chestnut’s Obstetrics Anaesthesia

  • Good resource for finer detail.
  • Available on college website
  • Again mainly used review articles, and some general anaesthesia books

Journals/Journal Articles

BJA education :

A compendium of landmark papers with key points and summaries

Anaesthesia Smartphone Apps

General apps

For an exhaustive list, please see the following link

  • Drugdoses by Frank Shann
  • Oxford Handbook 3rd ed
  • Oxford Emergencies in anaesthesia 2nd ed
  • Medscape: great FREE pharmacology and general medical resource.
  • iDAS: difficult airway society app
  • Medcalc (a number of these apps exist, useful for Cr Clearance, CHADS2, APGAR etc)
  • Pedistat or Pedisafe  (for paeds drug dosing, airway equipment size and approx. weight. After awhile you don’t have to use this anymore, but good to get started)
  • AnSo- an app with anatomy drawings, sonoanatomy and ergonomics for regional nerve blocks
  • ARC guideline (a web linked app, gives you latest flowcharts and guidelines for from our site)

Free journal Apps

  • BJA
  • Anesthesia and Analgesia
  • EJA European journal of anaesthesiology



  • Deep breaths
  • ABCs of Anaesthesia
  • Emcrit Podcast
  • Obsgynaecritcare
  • Dr Podcast (UK based)

Youtube channels