MRCPCH FOP/TAS, February 2022 exam: Instant Insights

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Updated following the 2022/1 exam.

We’ve been gathering feedback about the February 2022 MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam from numerous sources including video calls with candidates and customer surveys, so that we can share some key insights and give YOU the Pastest Advantage!

Once again, the RCPCH provided many candidates with the option to sit the exam remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for some unique insights, including pros and cons of this online experience.

This blog will continue to be updated with new information as and when we find out more, but here’s what we know so far:

Content of the February 2022 MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam

  • As usual the TAS paper was considered the trickier of the two by the majority of candidates with several niche questions included, lots of Basic Science content and question stems were thought as being particularly short & ambiguous at times.

  • Many candidates referenced that Pharmacology was overrepresented once again in the exam and several questions were rather abstract.

  • In response to the question 'Which topic/s did you find particularly difficult?' Ethics & Law came top across the two papers with 40%, Pharmacology was second with 26% and Science of Practice third with 25%. 

  • Many questions had two or three highly plausible answer options, making it difficult to choose the most appropriate answer as differences could often be subtle.

  • Timekeeping was an issue for some sitting the FOP paper, as a number of questions were case-based. This resulted in more time being required to read through a comprehensive vignette and settle on the answer.

  • Candidates felt that the TAS is a difficult paper to revise for as almost anything could appear including knowledge of names of specific antibodies in certain diseases.

  • Overseas candidates referenced Ethics & Law being a tricky topic due to lack of understanding of UK laws.

Customer comments

Here's a selection of quotes and advice from candidates who sat the October FOP/TAS exam:

  • "Go through your medical school notes. I had learnt genes of a disease but I was missing the pathophysiology at times as to how that gene affects physiology."

  • "I feel there is a lot of emphasis on antiepileptic drug questions - which are used when, side effects, and so on, which I personally find boring, not useful and quite difficult to remember - it does seem to be high yield for the exam."

  • "Go through common themes. Read around topics. Pastest is an incredibly useful resource that consolidates textbook info with guidelines, etc."

  • "Neurodevelopment is extremely detailed - so know exactly what happens when - how many words the child should know, especially when do they understand word groups - nouns/verbs/adjectives."

  • "Small parts such as palliative care and pain management are essential. If the principals are well understood, you can score full marks in the area. Go through the Pastest preparation entirely. Helps in the exam"
  • "Learn inheritance patterns of disease - often the only thing to distinguish between two presentations."

Common topics

According to Pastest users, questions on the following topics have appeared at least twice in the last three MRCPCH FOP/TAS exams:

  • Developmental milestones.
  • Inheritance patterns.
  • Management of diabetes.
  • Mechanism of action of diuretics.
  • Cardiac murmurs.
  • Vitamin D metabolism and related disorders.
  • Drug side effects.
  • Asthma pathways.

Sitting the MRCPCH FOP/TAS Exam Online

Many candidates preferred the remote option due to the convenience and cost savings compared to attending a physical exam centre; however, not everyone agreed. Some reported that taking it at home meant that they struggled to get into an ‘exam mindset’ and that distractions in their home environment and technical issues added to their stress.

We asked our customers what advice they would give to future online exam candidates. Here’s what they suggest:

  • Ensure you’re in a calming environment, that all distractions are removed and that family members are aware that you cannot be disturbed. Easier said than done during a lockdown!
  • Check that you have a stable internet connection, advise fellow household members to perhaps not download the latest series from Netflix while you’re taking the exam.
  • If your Wifi speed is a bit flaky, use an ethernet cable for more stability.
  • Ensure all of your devices are fully charged and plugged in if possible. The last thing you want is to suddenly find your laptop has run out of battery.
  • Be aware of your movements: Do you gaze off into the distance whilst trying to remember the answers? If so, be aware that the proctor may ask what you’re looking at and wish to see your room again.

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

Content of the October 2021 MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam

  • Many candidates referenced that Pharmacology was overrepresented in the exam and several questions regarding the contents of breast milk.

  • In response to the question 'Which topic/s did you find particularly difficult?' Pharmacology came top across the two papers with 47%, Ethics & Law was second with 31% and Genetics & Dysmorphology third with 28%. 

  • Many questions had two or three highly plausible answer options, making it difficult to choose the most appropriate answer as differences could often be subtle.

  • If you’re an international candidate, make sure that you’re up to speed with UK ethics and law, as the regulations may be different in your country.

Content of the June 2021 MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam

Foundation of Practice Paper

  • The vast majority of candidates reported that the FOP paper was the easier of the two, and several noted that it contained fewer data interpretation questions than they were expecting.
  • Some candidates felt the question stems contained a lot less information than normal and that there was an emphasis on GP/pre-hospital medicine in this sitting. 
  • One candidate suggested that it’s important to revise the mechanisms of action of medicines such as chloramphenicol and the mechanisms by which fluoroquinolones have developed resistance.
  • Metabolism & Metabolic Medicine was considered the most difficult topic by over 54% of respondents. This was was followed by Genetics & Dysmorphology (42%) and Cardiology (38%).

Theory and Science Paper

  • As usual, the TAS paper was considered the trickier of the two papers. The questions were more niche (asking for a particular condition or a particular electrolyte, for example) and featured many science-based themes.
  • Mechanism of action was mentioned heavily, and there were also a number of Ophthalmology questions. There were also a few questions on specific bacterial classification and morphology.
  • Question length in the TAS paper was shorter than FOP; many questions had either very short vignettes or no vignettes at all.
  • Metabolism & Metabolic Medicine was clearly considered the most difficult topic in the TAS paper, with 50% of our survey respondents stating they struggled with this specialty. This was followed by Pharmacology (38%), Cardiology (29%) and Endocrinology & Growth (21%).

 

Insights from the February 2021 Sitting

FOP Paper

  • Ethics and Law was considered the most difficult topic by many, with over 41% of respondents reporting this a tricky specialty. It was followed closely by Pharmacology and Metabolism & Metabolic Medicine
  • In addition, candidates mentioned particularly difficult questions on lung function, pain management, and mechanism of action / side-effects of drugs.
  • Many candidates reported that the Extended Matching Questions were challenging – often repeating the same vignette with very subtle differences.
  • Look out for image-based questions, this paper included an aetiology question regarding a newborn child with a bilateral white reflex.

TAS Paper

  • Metabolism & Metabolic Medicine was considered the most difficult topic by many, with over 54% of respondents reporting this a tricky specialty. It was followed by Genetics & Dysmorphology (42%) and Cardiology (38%).
  • There was a heavy emphasis on science-based questions, often preceded by a general clinical scenario which wasn’t relevant to the question being asked. It can be better to tackle these questions by reading the final line first – you may find that you wasted time reading and understanding the vignette!
  • Candidates recommend going back to your medical school pathology and physiology, which will help with the science-based recall questions on this paper.

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