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5 Tips to Help You Revise for MRCS Part A
- 29 Nov 2020
Junior doctor Catrin Jones passed MRCS A on her first attempt. Here are her 5 top tips for revising effectively and getting that elusive 'pass'.
How do you prepare for MRCS Part A? It's a daunting thought: you're not in medical school anymore, you've got a busy job, it's expensive, the pass rates are low, and if your friends and colleagues are not surgically inclined, revision can feel like a long and lonely slog.
I passed my MRCS Part A on the first attempt this year, so I thought I'd share a few tips that I picked up along the way:
1. Give yourself plenty of time.I signed up to revision sites around 4-5 months before the exam, and started to work my way through the question banks.
2. Find your weak spots and target your revision. There is a temptation to try and methodically work your way through the syllabus before starting on the questions. However, the MRCS syllabus is vast and you probably already know more than you think. Trying to wade your way through a textbook systematically is largely futile in my experience.
I started by doing lots of questions, and then using the results to identify which areas I needed to sit down and go through thoroughly, and which areas I was already strong in. My bête noire was head and neck anatomy, and it can be hugely demoralising to do a practice test and get sub -50% scores. However, knowing early on that that was an area I needed to devote plenty of time to meant that I tailored my revision accordingly. By exam time I could rattle off the contents of the cavernous sinus like nobody's business!
3. Fit your revision around your day. One of the things I found the hardest with revising for MRCS was trying to fit revision in around my rota. I guess we've all surrendered our evenings and weekends to revision around exam time as medical students, but what can you do when you're on a horrendous run of on-calls and nights and you just don't have much free time left?
For me, having revision apps on my phone was my saving grace. Sometimes, especially when you're on a tough bit of the rota, you have to accept that exam prep comes second to general survival, but just being able to do a little bit, often, wherever I was, kept me on track, even when I had very little time or energy.
4. Inform your rota co-ordinator early that you are intending to sit the MRCS. Ask in good time (possibly months in advance) for study leave/annual leave/zero days/whatever you can negotiate around the exam. Also, do try to ask not to be on call or nights close to the exam day. Consider informing your educational supervisor and programme director as well, if you feel this might give some clout to your request. Obviously, what you manage to get will vary from job to job, but being well rested and having some time to prepare prior to the big day does make a difference. It's worth going out on a limb to ask for (and well worth whatever post-exam rota-awfulness you have to endure as pay back).
5. Go for it!
- 29 Nov 2020
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