MRCPCH FOP/TAS, Oct 2020 exam: Instant Insights

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We’ve spent the last week gathering feedback about the October 2020 MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam, so that we can distil the key information, and help future candidates get The Pastest Advantage.

For the first time, candidates had the option to sit the MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam online – and we’ve gathered some key insights about this new experience.

We’ll continue to update this blog as we find out more, but here’s what we know so far:

Content of the MRCPCH FOP/TAS exam:

Foundation of Practice Paper

Candidates reported that Pharmacology, Metabolism & Metabolic Medicine and Ethics & Law were particularly tricky topics. 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.

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.

Theory and Science Paper

More than half of our survey respondents said that Pharmacology was a difficult topic on this exam, which was closely followed by Science of Practice.

There was a heavy weighting 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.

Attending the Exam Centre

Candidates reported that despite infection control measures being in place, this didn’t add any stress to the exam experience. Candidates were well spread out during the exam, and you could leave the exam hall once you were finished, which lessened the traffic filing out of the exam at the end.

Sitting the MRCPCH FOP/TAS Exam Online

Unlike other Royal Colleges, the RCPCH allowed candidates to choose whether to sit the exam online or in person. Around 30% of our survey respondents told us that they sat the exam online.

There were many reasons cited for this, including convenience, safety, travel restrictions, or because there were no places remaining at test centres.

Candidates who had previously attempted the exam in a test centre all agreed that the online remote experience was more convenient and less stressful than attending a physical exam centre.

However, there were a few technical glitches reported, from extra-long setup times (20+ minutes) to complete connection failures. When sitting the exam online, you may also have to deal with interruptions from the invigilators.

Despite the difficulties, 80% of our survey respondents said that they would prefer to sit exams online in the future.

We asked our customers what advice they would give to future online candidates; here’s what they suggest:

  • Check you have stable internet – an ethernet cable helps with this.
  • Make sure that you won’t be disturbed during the exam.
  • Use the rear camera on your phone for the remote invigilation, so that you don’t get disturbed by the screen.
  • Ensure that you’ve checked your internet speed before registering for an online place.
  • Prepare for the exam in the same way you would normally, as the content is the same.
  • Use Pastest to prepare, as the experience is very similar!

Look out for our upcoming White Paper on the MRCPCH FOP/TAS October 2020 exam for more detailed data analysis, candidate cohort outcomes and further exam feedback. Whilst you wait, why not check out our October 2019 White Paper!

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