MRCPCH AKP, January 2021 exam: Instant Insights

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It’s only a few days since the MRCPCH AKP January 2021 exam, but we’ve been hard at work talking to exam candidates and setting out the next round of development for our AKP resource, based on our recent findings. Here’s a rundown of our latest exam insights:

Due to the national lockdown, many UK candidates had to make a sudden shift to the online exam, rather than travelling to a physical exam centre. The candidates that we spoke to said that despite a deluge of emails and information from the Royal College, the experience was reasonably painless, and most were glad to be able to attempt the exam this sitting, rather than having to wait until the next diet.

While candidates did report some technical issues, 76% of those that we spoke to said that they would prefer to sit future exams online.

MRCPCH AKP January 2021 Exam Content

Candidates reported that this was a particularly tricky exam, especially when compared to the sample papers provided by the RCPCH. They reported difficult second and third-order questions, which require you to not only make a diagnosis but to then take the next step into appropriate investigations and management. There were also a lot of red herrings present in the questions, particularly in the form of irrelevant aspects of a patient’s history.

Metabolic Immunology and Statistics were frequently mentioned as the trickiest topics, so make sure to pay close attention to these during your exam preparation. Candidates were also surprised by a large number of questions on Safeguarding and Clinical Governance.

Image Interpretation is Important

Once again, images featured heavily in this exam. There were examples of dermatology, chest and abdominal x-rays, rashes and skin lesions to interpret and diagnose. Some candidates also reported seeing more obscure images than they would expect, including orbital CT scans, and plain head x-rays.

Some images were particularly tricky to interpret, including subtle facial dysmorphism, and the lesser-known clinical signs of Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.

The Online Exam Experience

We asked online candidates what advice they would give to a future candidate. Among the most common responses, were to prepare your exam environment. Ensure that you’ve got a strong internet connection and no possibility of distractions. Check out the Pastest Blog: How to prepare for an Online Exam for more helpful advice.

Other candidate advice included:

  • Be careful when using a laptop trackpad – particularly on a Mac. It’s easy to use swiping or other gestures to switch windows, or even display other applications. Don’t risk giving the proctors any cause to flag your exam session for review.
  • Look out for the question’s category, which is displayed on the exam interface. This may give you an edge in detecting what the question is really testing, and therefore a better chance of identifying the appropriate answer.
  • Make sure to close all other browser tabs – including ones open in different user accounts. Ensure that all other users are logged out of your device prior to starting the exam.
  • If you lose connectivity for a moment, don’t panic. One candidate reported this problem, but found that his exam had auto-paused, and was easy to resume when he made it back online.

Are you preparing for the MRCPCH AKP exam? We can help! Take out our free MRCPCH AKP Trial today, and see what it’s like to get the Pastest Advantage.

Read on to see more insights from previous exam sittings...

Insights from the September 2020 AKP exam:

  • Paper 2 was considered much more difficult, with long vignettes and a lot of data interpretation.
  • There were two long-form Statistics questions on the exam (there is an example in the RCPCH AKP sample paper) covering real abstracts from the Archive of Childhood Diseases (2009).
  • Look out for negatively-phrased questions, a couple were present in each paper.
  • There were plenty of image-based questions, often with no opening vignette or a very short vignette. Image topics included chest X-rays, abdominal X-rays, Dermatology and Ophthalmology.
  • Endocrinology questions, especially diabetes (i.e. insulin regimes) featured heavily in the exam.
  • The most difficult exam topics as voted by our customers were:
  • Statistics
  • Endocrinology
  • Dermatology
  • As well as difficult topics, many candidates said that choosing between two plausible options was the most difficult aspect of the exam.

Pastest Customer Outcomes

  • 75% of candidates who answered our survey passed the September 2020 exam.
  • On average, successful candidates answered over 1800 questions in our MRCPCH AKP question bank. Unsuccessful candidates answered around 1500 on average.

Common Topics from recent exams

The following topics were present in three consecutive sittings of the MRCPCH AKP exam – September 2020, January 2020 and September 2019:

  • Consent for emergency procedures
  • Causes of headache
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY)
  • Asthma management
  • X-ray interpretation - Pneumonia
  • Causes of seizure
  • Side effects of anticonvulsants
  • Odds ratio interpretation/calculations

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