So, we seem to get a fair number of threads and posts in this subforum (especially from IMG doctors) asking about the best methods and resources for passing UK postgrad exams, so I thought perhaps a profile type thread (like the applicants have) might be helpful? There's definitely a lot of advice which has been posted here over the years, it's just that you need to search through old threads to get to it, so this thread could be a useful reference point.
Stage in career:
Please feel free to point out if I've missed anything.
MRCP Part 1: #1, #2, #3, #4
MRCP Part 2: #1
MRCS Part A: #1
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- Thread Starter
Last edited by Democracy; 17-04-2018 at 22:46.
- 15-02-2018 22:22
- Thread Starter
- 15-02-2018 22:53
One rep, so at least one person might be interested. I'll go first.
Exam: MRCP Part 1
Year passed: 2018
Stage in career: FY2
Resources used: Completed PassMedicine and OnExamination, used Kalra as a reference for difficult and core topics (didn't read it from cover to cover), did the official past paper on the MRCPUK website.
Tips: I revised for this exam over three months, starting off with 50 questions a day for the first month, then 75 for the second month, and finally 100 questions a day for the final month. It's very much a marathon rather than a sprint, so if you're on nights or just really exhausted it's fine to take time to recharge. I was very lucky to get a few days of study leave - if you're able to get this it makes a lot of difference.
I increased the time spent on book learning the closer it got to the exam, but I do firmly believe this is an exam which primarily requires attempting lots of questions, reading through the explanations, and re-attempting the incorrect ones until you get them right.
The question banks are difficult and ask about minutiae and I think this is intentional, so don't feel discouraged. I found PassMedicine to be more difficult than the actual exam (though the explanations and guidelines were excellent). OnExamination was slightly easier. My scores on both were pretty low to start with but I found my average did improve over time.
The real exam was also hard and pretty tiring (six hours of exams with a 75 minute break), somewhere in between OnExamination and PassMedicine in terms of difficulty. They absolutely ask about rare, footnote-y stuff which you've probably never seen in real life. Definitely don't avoid your weak areas - they will come up.
I think one other important thing is to ensure you get a good night's sleep beforehand so it's worth staying in a hotel near to the venue if you can. The last thing you want on the day of an important and expensive exam is to deal with public transport, traffic or parking headaches, or even having to wake up extra early. It's definitely worth paying £40 for a basic room imho.
Other remarks: A lot of people on here ask about whether it's necessary to have a study partner for the MRCP Part 1. My personal opinion is that this is not necessary at all. This is an exam which basically requires you to shut yourself in a room with a laptop and maybe a textbook for a few months - I think studying in a group would probably end up being rather inefficient and distracting if anything. NB: I wouldn't say this about a practical clinical exam - group study all the way.Last edited by Democracy; 16-02-2018 at 23:33.
- 16-02-2018 19:59
Excellent thread and very helpful post. Thanks for starting this!
- 17-02-2018 00:58
Exam: MRCP part 1
Year passed: 2018
Stage in career: Break between F2 and core training
Essential Notes for MRCP by P. Kalra
- I found this to be the most useful resource as it gives you lots of the random details and footnote stuff that comes up in question banks and the exam. I also found it helpful for physiology as this was not a strong point for me (having done almost no physiology since 1st year of med school), as well as epidemiology and statistics. I found a huge difference when doing questions before and after reading this book, and I doubt I would have passed without it. I read about 90% of the book, skipping only a couple of topics I was very confident in.
Basic Medical Sciences for MRCP part 1 by P. Easterbrook
- This is an excellent book but I didn't have time to read very much of it. I think I would have found it a very useful resource as a medical student, but for the exam, I wouldn't recommend it as anything more than a reference.
Onexamination, Passmedicine, MCQ books for MRCP part 1
- I went through all of the onexamination question bank, going over my weaker areas twice. I would read a chapter from Kalra, then do questions on that specialty from onexamination. Once I read the book and finished all the questions on onexamination, I moved on to doing questions on Passmedicine and from various MCQ books. I agree with Democracy that Passmedicine was the harder question bank, hence it felt appropriate to use it after I built up some knowledge via textbooks and questions.
There are a lot of people who swear by question banks and don't use any books at all. I think it is possible to pass this way, but I would strongly recommend getting the textbook by Kalra as it pretty much sets out the curriculum for Part 1 - it shows you which are the topics they will ask you about, and roughly the amount of detail you need to know . I did not get the latest edition of the book - I bought the 3rd edition which cost me around £3 on amazon. It wasn't in colour but covered what I needed adequately.
I felt that the practice paper on the MRCPUK website was much easier than the real exam. I don't know if it is always the case (I have heard a couple of people say the same thing in the past), but when I sat the exam, the first paper was pretty easy and the second paper was very hard. I would say the practice paper is at the level of the first paper - i.e. not representative of the true difficulty of the exam.
MCQ books are very good for building up knowledge - I bought a few cheap ones on eBay and amazon and found them very helpful. The problem with using a question bank is that authors tend to have their favourite topics and random facts that they want to pass on to you, and if you are using sources written by different authors, you gain more knowledge that may come in useful in the exam.
I spent roughly 4 months in total preparing. Parts of this were more intense (3-4 hours studying a day) and others were less so as I was traveling, however I aimed to do questions every day (even if it was only 30 or 50 on some days). In the past 3-4 weeks before the exam, I was doing around 150-250 a day.Last edited by girl_in_black; 11-03-2018 at 01:12.
- 06-03-2018 13:34
Exam: MRCP Part 1
Year passed: 2016
Stage in career: FY2
Resources used: Passmedicine only
Tips: From my experience it was just questions, questions, questions and learning the appropriate associations - these exams are very stereotypical in certain wording means a certain diagnosis. Took maybe about 4 to 6 weeks or so of studying question after question and learning the correct answers.
Other remarks: To be honest, this exam was probably harder than Part 2 as it included so many random basic science type questions which isn't particularly helpful to clinical practice - it's a hurdle that a lot of us have to go through though.
________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________ _______
Exam: MRCP Part 2
Year passed: 2017
Stage in career: FY2
Resources used: Passmedicine question bank. Also had free access to Medical Masterclass from my hospital library which was helpful as there was an app you could use on commutes.
Tips: Like Part 1, lots of questions is helpful. In my opinion this was much more interesting to study for as a lot of it is relevant to the things you come across in hospital medicine. Once again certain wording in questions will essentially give you the diagnosis :P Studying for this exam was a bit of a blur as I was on A&E at the time, but roughly 4 weeks or so of solid studying was probably enough.
Other remarks: When I took this exam it was over two days which was a pain (but a relief to be off the shop floor in A&E :P), but I believe now it is just one day. Not sure how that will affect people in the future.
- 13-03-2018 02:21
Exam: MRCP Part 1
Year passed: 2017 final session
Stage in career: F2
Resources used: Mini Kumar and Clark book, PassMedicine, OnExamination
Tips: I probably did more "textbook revision" than most people. But I don't really like just doing questions. I think I did around 3 months of revision.
Other remarks: In my sitting, the first paper was very very challenging, and the second paper was around the difficulty level of the online question banks.
I found Passmedicine to be much more challenging than OnExamination. I think even on my second attempt through Passmedicine (after clearing my scores), I was just around the middle of the score distribution. Whereas after one attempt at OnExamination, I was in the top 5%. My actual exam score was a completely unremarkable pass (low 600s).
- 13-03-2018 02:23
Just to add, yeah, I don't understand why people ask for "study partners" for MRCP Part 1. Would be pretty useless in my opinion. Just about doing the hard work yourself IMO.
- 13-03-2018 16:20
what postgraduate exam do you need to do for GP? at what stage do you need to do this?
- 19-03-2018 23:25
- 08-04-2018 17:00
anyone who's done mrcs ?
- 17-04-2018 22:19
Exam: MRCS Part A
Year passed: Jan 2017 sitting
Stage in career: FY1
Resources used: Anatomy - Grays, Surgery specific - I used the pastest books, Question bank - eMRCS, didn't really use a physiology/pathology text book as i was only 5 months or so post-finals and had done a lot in the lead up to that (for finals i used Naish medical sciences and Robbins pathology). The pastest books generally cover all that you need for these topics anyway
Tips: I'd say 3-4 months is that amount of time you want given that you're working full time. No doubt it could be done a lot quicker though. I started with anatomy to get my basics and then started reading through the pastest books. Would do maybe 1-2 hours a night with longer spent on days off. Started questions about 4-5 weeks prior to the exam and got through the question bank twice, i found the eMRCS question bank very similar to the exam and so felt really well prepared.
Other remarks: Have finally booked onto Part B for October and will be changing my revision technique to include a few more texts (to revisit some concepts that haven't been covered for a couple of years). By the time i sit it i'll be into my 4th surgical job having also done a rotation in ITU so am hoping it shouldn't be too bad. I will return following to document how it went and what i found useful!
What about the post-grad exams for GP, how do they compare to MRCP etc?
I would appreciate if someone who’s done part 1 FRCOphth could write down some tips I couldn’t find anything by searching the forum