MRCPCH TAS Purgatory by Katie Rogerson

"The dreaded MRCPCH TAS. I loathed it. 

Yep – it is that one right at the start of the paediatric exams (straight after the MRCPCH FOP).  Easy peasy! Surely the hard ones come later?  Not for me.  I just COULD NOT get my head around the thing. And those close to me knew they should not utter its name in my presence.


It seemed to me, for a tremendously long while, to be an exam of spurious connections and tenuous links.  And I might have taken it more than once. Certainly, I spent A LOT of cash, and I felt very sad. Oohh, soo sad. I still have the flashbacks. 

Thinking back, the problem was that I did not properly commit.  I felt it was inevitable that I was doomed to everlasting MRCPCH TAS purgatory.  That I would die, frothing at the mouth, screaming and writhing in agony, ‘Noooooo! MRCPCH TAS!!!! Why? WHHYYYY??????’

You know what though? I got there in the end. 



Finally, I realised that enough was enough. MRCPCH TAS didn’t need to control my existence - I needed to confront it.  I had no choice except to pass it.  Surely I was more than a MRCPCH TAS failure? 

Finally, I sat alone in a room, took Facebook off my phone and did questions solidly for two weeks.

And…I scraped a pass by the skin of my teeth.  A few marks over, but WHO CARES!! No one ever needs to know how close I came to being on the other side of the pass mark.  I WAS A SUCCESS! Albeit a slightly slow moving one. 

I am not convinced that MRCPCH TAS teaches you anything useful, whatsoever.  And for me it nearly completely destroyed my confidence as a practicing doctor.  NO ONE talks about it, so you do not know who failed and who passed.  

As time went on, I realised that MRCPCH TAS was not connected to the good, or the bad doctors.  In fact, my revelation was a conversation in which I discovered all my own personal ‘top-rated, prizewinning’ paediatric doctors/consultants etc. had also messed up MRCPCH TAS.  Wahay! How liberating!

It is quite simply a hoop you have to jump through – as all these exams are.  If you can forget about the scary, expensive part – they are quite good fun!"

Katie Rogerson is a Pastest customer and trainee paediatrician at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, London. She'll be taking her MRCPCH Clinical exam this year.




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