Passing MRCS Part A

Dr Mueez Waqar is an academic foundation doctor at Salford Royal, Manchester. He sat the exam in the April 2016 sitting and achieved an overall mark of 232 (86.6%).


You might also like our latest MRCS Part A blog - How I Scored 89% in the MRCS Part A Exam (June 2018)


undefinedI sat the MRCS Part A in April of this year and passed it on the first attempt. I received a lot of different advice in preparation for the exam, ranging from people advising me to read weighty surgical textbooks to attending multiple revision courses. Fortunately (!), I was too busy during my day job as an FY1 at a busy teaching hospital to follow most of this advice and took a different approach, focusing on my weaknesses rather than attempting to relearn the whole of surgery. I came out with a decent score overall and hope my approach can help you pass it on your first attempt too!

What I used…
• Basic Sciences for the MRCS (“Rafferty”): this is a good book though a bit text-heavy. Be selective in your reading; you don’t have to read it all. Most of the Physiology and Pathology tested in Part A can be learnt by doing the question bank and reading answers.

• Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy: the good thing about this atlas is that it contains drawn
prosections as well as cartoon illustrations. These key concept drawings really help to clarify even the most daunting anatomical areas.

Pastest question bank: although there are a few question bank options, the Pastest question bank is the more extensive of them, containing over 3,300 questions. It is definitely worth the money in my opinion and a lot of the questions on the day were similar (if not identical!) to ones in the question bank. The other good thing you get is the Pastest app, which makes it a breeze to revise on the go.

First thing before you start…
Book the exam! Once you do, suddenly your motivations will appear.

January-February
As a graduate of a PBL-based medical school that did not offer a lot of anatomy teaching, I thought it would be most useful to tackle this area first. I started off by reading through the thorax, head and neck and abdomen chapters in Raftery, which laid a good foundation for questions. I also referred to Grant’s Atlas whilst reading the chapters. This early on in my revision, I aimed to get through about 50 untimed, random questions per day as I was focusing mostly on absorbing information. I think doing random questions is better than doing questions on a topic straight after revising it, as it is more realistic.

March-April
From March onwards I started to do >100 timed, random questions per day and it was essentially the only revision I was doing. I focused on reading explanations for questions I got wrong and looked these up in Rafferty/Grant’s if necessary. In the last week, I focused on questions I had gotten wrong in the past. Try and book annual leave around the exam date (before and after!).

On the day and ever after
Keep calm (easier said than done I know!) Do not revise in the morning. Make sure you take your form of ID with you and get to the venue in plenty of time! There are 2x2h papers, each worth 135 marks. A pass mark is usually 70% (about 190 raw). Results are sent out about 2 weeks after the exam.

Part A is a very doable exam if you put the effort in, so good luck!



Read our latest MRCS Part A blog - How I Scored 89% in the MRCS Part A Exam (June 2018)

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