– Alert: Long Post –
My score in the MRCP part 1 – January, 2019 diet was 633 (not something fancy, but the most satisfying part is I passed in my first attempt, all on my own, in short period of time, took when I was first eligible to take it, with no post grad experience and without resigning from my duty).
Following is my topic wise breakdown of marks:
- Cardiology 73%
- Clinical Haematology and oncology 65%
- Clinical Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology 67%
- Clinical Science 78%
- Dermatology 71%
- Endocrinology 87%
- Gastroenterology 73%
- Geriatric Medicine 100%
- Infectious Disease and GUM 73%
- Nephrology 71%
- Neurology 47%
- Ophthalmology 75%
- Psychiatry 50%
- Respiratory Medicine 63%
- Rheumatology 87%
Estimated number of questions correct (on basis of % answered correctly): 144/200
I decided to put my exam and preparation experience on q/a format. I am including all the questions asked by you previously.
These are all my personal views, you listen to all other views, but take the decisions yourself. That’s what I did too.
Q. Why MRCP?
People take MRCP Part 1 for various purpose. May be you are in one of that category.
-You are working as a foundation doctor in UK, and want to enter in to Internal medicine training.
-Bypass PLAB and take MRCP route for GMC registration for less career down time later and secure higher pays and position in NHS.
-Take PLAB and MRCP side by side. PLAB for faster route in to GMC registration and MRCP to decrease future career down time while doing Foundation programme in UK
-MRCP part 1 for MTI scheme to work in UK for 2 years.
-Post graduates in Internal Medicine and its superspeciality, to add-on to their degrees for international recognition and to be distinct among their colleagues in their own country.
I fall into the third category. But whichever be your purpose, no doubt this is the examination of high stake in many sense.
Q. What is the duration of your preparation?
I started my preparation since the beginning of September (for January 8th, 2019 exam). However, during one full month of September, my preparation didn’t go as expected. Since I was entirely unknown about anything related to this examination, my most of the time during this month went on by asking questions like what is the proper material and question banks for this exam, what to study and what not, etc. My real preparation begun from October after registering for this exam, as there was no way out after registration .
In a nutshell, I would say my real preparation duration was 100 days.
Q. What are the materials available for MRCP part 1 examination?
Basically, in any examination, you need two main things for preparation – Proper Notes to read, revise and review; and a question bank whose previous track records are very strong. People also add reference books, if in case they need to clear confusion during their preparation. Reference books should be the same standard text books that you used during your UG, however many preparing on this field recommend Davidson’s textbook of Medicine. I am focusing mainly on notes and banks here.
There are 3 different preparation notes popular for this exam. Namely,
i) MRCP- The only notes you ever need (SudaMedica)
ii) Step Up To MRCP (Magraby Notes)
iii) Notes & Notes for MRCP (By Yousif Hamad)
There are 4 different question banks popular for this exam. Namely,
iii) BMJ OnExamination
iv) RCP Medical Masterclass
Q. What are the pros and cons of all these preparation notes?
I have seen my colleagues studying all of it, taking 6 months during preparation, and scoring 740+. I would never recommend you to do the same. Because, it’s not like USMLE where 230 in step 1 don’t get matched for residency but 270 has got higher and sure shot chance. If you score 540 or 750 in MRCP part 1, your chances into core training and then further specialty training doesn’t significantly differ. However, there are many positive influences, when they see higher scores on your CV.
Each preparation material is important on its own sense. SudaMedica is very concise and easily doable. Total pages is around 550 and all the high yield topics and points are not missed. But the disadvantage in this book is, it is too concise and random and thus difficult to arrange in our memory. Its conciseness, makes us doubt our own preparation most of the time. When I started preparing from it, I always felt, if this much only is adequate???
Magraby Notes is more comprehensive, better organized and easier on memory than SudaMedica. Total pages is around 1300. The flow of text and the proper arrangement of topics including all the high yield points and then few extras too, gives lot of self-confidence during preparation. But the main disadvantage here is that the guidelines mentioned are outdated.
Notes & Notes by Hamad, is the extreme form of study material in comparison to both of the above. It’s the most comprehensive, most organized, and updated book in all sense. However, you must not also forget the fact that it is around 1800 pages thick. The vastness of this book, makes one always have that fearful feeling of, if I am not able to revise it on last moment, I am DOOMED.
Q. What are the Pros and Cons of these question banks?
Passmedicine has around 3000 + questions. More than, 90% questions in this bank is of high yield for the exam. Latest Nice Guidelines are updated and presented in the form of text book. You can track your progress on the graph. Lastly, the price of subscription is also very affordable. Its 30 GBP for 4 months and 40 GBP for 6 months. However, people feel that questions are mostly easy, number of questions are less for adequate practice and you must always add-on the second question bank if you study from this.
Pastest is more comprehensive question bank with over 6000 questions, past papers collection and a mobile offline app that can sync your account. People feel that this question bank tests more number of topics in more number of ways than passmedicine and makes one adequately prepared for the exam. But, the subscription price is 80 GBP and the subscription lasts no more than upcoming exam whenever you subscribe it. I also feel the difficulty and trickiness of the question here is above the level of difficulty of exam. Most of the questions here are not straight forward with always some extra things you have to have knowledge of to solve it. However in the real exam, questions are not that much tricky or twisty as it is in Pastest (barring few exceptions).
OnExamination is always ranked third by most of the people as a question bank for MRCP part 1. Total number of questions is 3200 +, seems to be less difficult than Pastest and at or slightly above the level of difficulty than the real exams. Questions here are good to practice as it tests your concepts and memory in more organized manner. But its main drawback is its price. 82 gbp for 2 months, 92 for 3, 103 for 4 months.
RCP Medical Masterclass, is the only official question bank, prepared by RCP itself for MRCP Part 1. Questions here are at the level of difficulty of exam. Prices are 54 GBP for 1 month, 63 for 2, 75 for 3 and 98 GBP for 6 months subscription. However, many seniors who passed this exam, never recommend Medical Masterclass, reason being its short explanation to the answers. My personal feeling is that this question bank is the most under rated than all.
Q. Now that we know the pros and cons of all, what is your material during the preparation?
In majority, I used Magraby Notes and Passmedicine.
When I went directly into passmedicine, my score use to be around 55-60% at first, but after I started studying Magraby Notes side by side, my score increased to around 80%.
My most whole hearted recommendation is that, if you don’t study Passmedicine, please do not even think of attending this exam. MRCP part 1, Jan 2019 diet was around 60-70% entirely either the same or within the scope of passmedicine.
Q. Magraby Notes is basically the collection of passmedicine notes, then what is the reason you need to study Magraby Notes alongside Passmedicine?
First of all, Magraby Notes is not just the collection of passmedicine notes, but also the collection of notes from OnExamination. However very few collections from Pastest.
Secondly, if you just study question bank then the main anxiety starts around 2-3 weeks before exam, where revision for you means redoing those questions time and again, which is a difficult task. You don’t have something fast and ready in front of you in more digestible manner like a note.
Remember, if you can’t revise at last, it’s as equivalent as you didn’t study at all. Revision is the Key.
Q. I have latest edition of Passmedicine books. Should I do the online subscription?
Friends let me clarify this first. Passmedicine is a online question bank-cum-text book.
The passmedicine inc., do not publish any physical hard copy books. All the books that are being circulated in the market are just the pirated version. Somebody bought an online subscription and copied the material and published as a book. Passmedicine online q bank is updated frequently. That’s why u see different number of total questions in every few days in the website. Guidelines are updated time to time and even some of the answers are changed depending upon the various updates to guidelines. Whenever guideline changes, many questions become obsolete automatically, which are removed from the bank as required. However, if you see those books with so called 2018-2019 editions, they are still having the same number of questions from past few years and has some dubious answers which is already changed in online versions.
Q. There are some online websites which gives free access to passmedicine. Can I use that then?
No. I know that there are online websites that gives free access to passmedicine. Advantage is that its free, but disadvantages is as follows:
i) You always see around 2900 questions there. However online pools is increasing every day. Its around 3100 at the moment.
ii) Latest guidelines are still not updated, so few questions which are obsolete, are still found in those websites
iii) After you complete a question, but suddenly when you move to next question, you want to go back in the same question to reread it. If you click “back” button, you will land up on some random questions but not the same question you just did.
iv) In real passmedicine online, your responses are recorded and the stats from all over the world who correctly or incorrectly answered that questions will be shown. This way you can see how dumb or intelligent you are in comparison to others.
v) All your progress in passmedicine is tracked, and you can see the graph of percentile on where you fall, that gives you confidence on your progress every day.
vi) The other free websites sometime gets crashed. Just imagine, you want to solve questions and website doesn’t respond. It will be frustrating.
Q. What was the modality of your preparation?
I was working full time, however my hospital was the new startup and was not busy most of the time. I could get ample number of hours during the duty and during my off days to study. My dedicated number of hours for study, each day was around 5-6 hours, though my materials were alongside me 24 X 7. I now felt, if I was not working full time, I could have managed to study all in around 70-80 days also. But for those who work and study same time, 100-120 days is the best amount of dedication you need for this exam. If you are more experienced and A grade students during your UG, you can do that even in 60-80 days time. But don’t rush too much, take it easy and one step at a time, you know yourself better than me.
I used to study the particular topic from Magraby notes then solve passmedicine questions online. Since Magraby notes has outdated guideline, I used to annotate it with latest guideline from passmedicine online. I used to annotate important and difficult questions from passmedicine also in Magraby Notes. Magraby notes doesn’t have figures, so wherever I felt that part needs pictorial concept, I downloaded from various sources and annotated it as well there. All the important and volatile points were highlighted in my notes. I prepared by Magraby Notes as my sketch book, which I can revise later in much less time before exam. I used to solve around 50-60 questions a day from passmedicine and discuss around 15 difficult, conceptual and other varieties questions from our private facebook group.
I completed passmedicine and Magraby Notes first read in 75 days, first revision of Magraby Notes on the next 20 days and second revision of Magraby Notes on last 10 days. I didn’t do the second read of passmedicine, rather started discussing random questions from Pastest, Medical Masterclass and OnExamination. However, those questions from other question banks that I did later, were very few like around just 500 and was studied only during my discussion in facebook group.
Last 1 week before the exam, I started doing mock tests from Pastest Past Papers. I did around 5 sets Pastest Past papers and scored around 65-70% in all of them.
1 day before exam, I did my best to simulate the exact event on the real day of exam. I woke up in the morning at around 6am. Freshened up myself, took the exact same breakfast that I would also take the next day and started my final mock test at around 10am. 10 am to 1 pm, I completed my first set of mock exam, then went on to take the lunch. Again from 2:30 pm, I did my second set of mock exam and completed it on 5:30 pm. This gave me the massive boost in confidence on my time table that I had planned for my judgement day. My strong recommendation is that, you also follow this same pattern of routine one day before the exam. If your exam has different timing than mine, you follow the same. Always do this last mock exam from MRCP official website. This 200 sample questions in MRCP website is the closest to the real exam. I found at least 10 questions, ditto copy in the real exam from this sample questions. So please, do not solve this question during your preparation days. I scored 75% in this exam. My real exam result was 72%.
Q. What is that private facebook group? Was it effective?
This is the third thing, after Magraby Notes and Passmedicine, that I would recommend you to do. Please enroll yourself in either a facebook group or a Whatsapp group and dedicate at least around 1 hour time in this group everyday. Your group must contain genuine members from different nations, those who are always punctual and those whose exam is on the same diet than yours. I was blessed to have such group during my preparation. If you cant find such group, make one by yourself. At the end of the day like around 10pm to 11pm or whichever time is comfortable for most of you, start discussing at least 15-20 questions in the group. Ask around 2-3 members to present questions on one particular day and rest of the members to actively participate in answering them. Then the question presenter at the end explain each and every question they presented in the group.
This is one of the example, you can develop your own modality as well. This group will make you feel all the time that you are not the only one in this journey and keep you motivated.
Q. Share your experience of the exam day.
On my exam day, I followed the same schedule of the earlier day. I woke up at 6 am, took a rapid glance of Magraby Notes, had the breakfast and went to the exam centre. I booked a hotel room at around 50m distance from the centre (my exam centre was not in my home country)
Dress comfortably, but don’t forget to take a jacket with you even if the climatic condition is hot. Your exam is mostly on a conference hall of a 5 star hotel which has a strong air conditioning system. After an hour or so, when the ambient temperature gets decreased by the AC, you don’t want yourself to start shivering and then solving questions. When not in use hang your jacket behind you in the chair.
You don’t have to take any stationary with you. Everything like pencil, sharpner, eraser and a water bottle is provided at the centre. Just take your exam admission document (emailed by RCP), primary ID (Passport) and one secondary ID (just in case, as an alternative) [see the MRCP website regarding No ID No entry Policy, where you can also find the list of acceptable ID proof that can be shown on the exam].
Listen to all the instructions carefully, keep an eye on the time (generally a digital clock is kept in front at the location visible to all the examinee), and fill up the answer sheet with your personal details carefully when you are told to do so.
When you start solving questions, remember that this is ‘best of five’ type of question. You have 5 multiple choices. One is the best answer and other 4 is the not just the distractor, but may also be the correct answer which is relatively less appropriate in that particular situation. So make the habit of ruling out the option rather than choosing the answer. If you directly choose an answer, there is high chance you land up in less correct form, as all the options are closely poised. Always check at last if you left any of the boxes vacant in the answer sheet. I advise you to choose the answer in the question paper itself and copy that in your answer sheet at last 30 minutes. Time is usually adequate for most of the candidates.
On the exam, i scored least in the Neuro, but I found clinical pharmacology to be the toughest.