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How to Prepare for PACES
  • 07 Aug 2015
  • MRCP

Dr Atef El Dean conquered PACES this summer scoring an impressive 165/172. Here are his tips for how to prepare for PACES. 

The PACES exam is a challenge to many candidates, especially International Graduates like myself. 

I think PACES can be easily beaten if you stick to the following advice:

1. Start preparing 3-6 months before the exam.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
3. Make it a part of your routine. Whilst working every day practise examining patients as you would in the exam.
4. Get seniors to watch you, comment on your technique and then ask you questions. 
5. Attend PACES teaching at your local hospital.
6. Stick to 6 minutes examination and present your patient in under 1 minute.

For your preparation I would recommend the following:


I would strongly recommend the Pastest videos. All Pastest videos are very important, especially exam techniques (I found the Neurology examination very useful) and Communication Skills. These videos give you an idea about what the examiners expect while dealing with different clinical and ethical dilemmas. These are crucial for postgraduate and overseas doctors who in my experience often fail the exam because of Communication Skills.

I also found the extensive variety of videos extremely useful. They cover many clinical cases in different specialties, including rare syndromes. Neurology and Station 5 were the most useful to me. You can see patients from other specialties during your work at the hospital, but you rarely see a good case for Station 5, even in big teaching hospitals. 

I found the Neurology videos very constructive and beneficial as well, especially as Neurology is one of the weakest points for trainees. This is because Neurology is not one of the main specialties that trainees rotate in during the Core Medical Training, hence most trainees haven't done any Neurology rotation/job during their medical career. Furthermore, the Neurology station is never straightforward in the PACES exam, even for doctors who had Neurology training.


I would recommend attending a PACES course, and also try to do a mock near to PACES to get a feeling of the real exam. These may already be planned in the hospital where you work. I would recommend the mock at King’s College Hospital London and St. George's Hospital.

In my next post, I will cover the essential points to remember during your PACES exam.

Dr Atef El Dean MBBCh MSc MRCP(UK)
Specialty Doctor in Gastroenterology
Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London

  • 07 Aug 2015
  • MRCP