MRCPsych CASC Experience & Advice from Successful Candidates (2018)

I have gathered this information from successful CASC candidates which include a mix of UK graduate and IMG.

  When did you pass your CASC Job title at the point of passing CASC Primary Medical Qualification
Doctor 1: Sept 2018 Associate Specialist IMG
Doctor 2: Sept 2018 CT3 Psychiatry UK
Doctor 3 Sept 2018 CT3 Psychiatry UK
Doctor 4 2018 Working as private psychiatrist in India IMG
Doctor 5Sept 2018 CT3 Psychiatry UK
Doctor 6 Sept 2018 CT3 Psychiatry UK
Doctor 7 Sept 2018 CT3 Psychiatry UK
Doctor 8 Sept 2018 CT3 Psychiatry UK

Can you please summarise how you prepared for CASC:

Doctor 1:

I attended the commercial revision courses like SPMM and Birmingham. I also attended for the available mock examinations. I also practiced with other candidates who are attempting the exam either face to face or on Skype.  Due to advanced technology, it is not that impossible to connect with other doctors through the internet forums. I find that this is the best help as you can share each other’s experience and also gives you exposure to other doctors’ good techniques, style of questioning and learn from each other.  

Doctor 2:

Reading NICE guidelines / Maudsley
Writing out scenarios / common topics
Practicing scenarios with peers and Consultants

Doctor 3:

Initially some book work and revision. Then mostly practicing in a group of 2 or 3 people, either by meeting up or on skype.
I also attended practice sessions with Consultants and the mock CASC exam which was really useful.
Started revising roughly 2 months before the exam.

Doctor 4:

Watched videos; practiced with several candidates and took feedback from successful candidates.

Doctor 5:

  • Small group practice (simulated scenarios)
  • 1x Mock CASC organized in Cardiff
  • Watched the videos from the SPMM website
  • Made flashcards for important/useful facts
  • Paper B questions banks on MRCPsych Mentor
  • Rehearsed scenarios in my head

Doctor 6:

Group practice and a bit of reading

Doctor 7:

Cardiff Mock Casc was easily the best learning resource for me and was the trigger to start my revision. I first went through the Prep for CASC book (see below) then went through the videos on SPMM. I made notes from there to help structure/ focus my answers. We started group practice (doing repeat scenarios) for about 6 weeks prior to the exam meeting 2-3x a week. 

I used the notes on SPMM CASC for the scenarios only and ran through this in groups. The mark schemes/ scenarios aren’t all that great but a useful guide. Trickcyclist mark sheets are the best but a bit outdated. Most of the CASC scenarios had come up in SPMM and if I had failed I would have concentrated on SPMM videos and notes only.

Doctor 8:

I started by reading through past scenarios and making a list of previously examined topics. I then made lists of key questions to ask or points to make during the station and made sure I had structured answers for each topic.

From the start, I made a study group and practiced regularly with them doing 7 minutes stations. We also asked Consultants, examiners and those who had recently passed the CASC to observe and provide feedback. At the start, we would agree on a topic in advance and study this before the session but towards the end of practice, we did random scenarios to simulate the real exam.

I also attended 2 mock CASC course run by the Wales Deanery.

What resources you used:

Doctor 1:

I used mainly Get through CASC by Melvyn Zhang and other materials from the courses.
However, I based my daily practice on the Get through CASC book stations.

Doctor 2:

Get through MRCPsych CASC book
RCPsych patient info leaflet
SPMM notes

Doctor 3:

Online SPMM CASC notes – lots of detail, good for the knowledge base.
Book – Get Through MRCPsych CASC by WB Zhang – good for practicing how to structure stations.

Doctor 4:

SPMM videos

Doctor 5:

  • SPMM videos
  • Scenarios came from SPMM, trickcylist website
  • Youtube
  • Internet websites

Doctor 6:

Mock CASC and every book we could get between us

Doctor 7:

In order of usefulness

  • Cardiff Mock CASC course
  • SPMM
  • Tickcyclists.co.uk
  • Get through MRCPsych: Preparation for CASC
  • Birmingham Course Notes

Doctor 8

  • ICD-10 and DSM V.
  • RCPsych patient information leaflets
  • SPMM notes
  • Get Through MRCPsych CASC book
  • Birmingham CASC notes
  • MRCPsych Passing the CASC book

How many hours a week were you preparing leading up to the CASC exam:

Doctor 1:

24 to 36 hours weekly

Doctor 2:

Started in July – around 6 – 10 hours a week.
Built up in August to around 12-15 hours a week.
September 20-25 hours a week.  

Doctor 3:

Probably around 2 hours most nights after work initially, then in the last 2 weeks I took study leave and spent most of the days revising of practicing, probably for about 6 hours a day.

Doctor 4:

20hrs per week  

Doctor 5:

From August until mid September 6-8 hours

The final 10 days prior to the exam, 60 hours

Doctor 6:

Started at a couple of hours a week with a few months to go then eventually was 6/7 of practice and some reading.

Doctor 7:

  • 15-20 hours

Doctor 8:

I have a young child so it was important for me to start preparing early. I started in May and did 5-10 hours a week. This increased until August where I was doing around 25 hours a week. This included group practice most days in the last 6 weeks.

Any tips on how to conduct group practice for CASC:

Doctor 1:

In my experience, it is important to find partners as early as possible as you need to build up a rapport and learn to communicate with each other well in advance before the actual exam. 
Once a group is established and up and running, the group members are reluctant to let a newcomer in due to the above mentioned reasons

Doctor 2:

Practice in small groups and set aside time every week. Use a 7 min timer to get used to timings.
We just worked through the scenarios in book and SPMM notes methodically.
Use What’s App videos or Skype.  

Doctor 3:

Not too many people in the group as logistically this can be quite difficult to organize. We worked in a group of 2 or 3 and if it was not possible to meet up we would Skype instead.
We worked through the book& SPMM notes at least twice so we didn’t miss any stations and everyone had a go of doing each station.

Doctor 4:

A group of 8-16 candidates who should keep practicing in randomly mixed subgroups of 2-3.

Doctor 5:

  • People need to be relaxed
  • Positive and negative feedback
  • Repetition

Doctor 6:

Find a group of maximum about 4 minimum 3 and 1 act, 1 be the candidate and ½ be the examiner. Under exam conditions with honest (brutal) feedback at the end.

Doctor 7:

  • Make sure you print out scenarios, mark sheets etc before practice to save time.

Doctor 8:

Start early and build trust within your group, it is important to be able to give and receive criticism in a supportive environment so you can improve. Find people who have CASC experience to watch you when you can. Go over as many scenarios as possible from different sources and make sure you do scenarios that are more difficult or out of your comfort zone so you are less likely to be surprised on the day.

Any more advice for the future trainees/candidates:

Doctor 1:

My advice is if you are an overseas doctor with overseas medical school training you need to put much more effort into this examination as this is the last and most difficult barrier, hurdle.
The examination does not have a correlation to years of clinical experience. It is more important to practice and prepare for the actual exam format, which can be only achieved through repeated practice, over and over.  

Doctor 2:

The exam is very false, it is not a reflection of you or your ability as a doctor. You will come out feeling terrible and think that you have failed.
I struggled with flashbacks to the exam afterward. However, it will have gone better than you think.
Practice is the key to passing CASC.

Doctor 3:

Definitely, attend the mock CASC. Get the SPMM notes early as they are useful for a good knowledge base before you start practicing, they are worth the money.  

Doctor 4:

Have a good understanding of the marking scheme from the royal college site to understand the exam.
Communication skill, confidence and making your interview unique are the key areas to work on.  

Doctor 5:

The SPMM videos are very useful as stations can be similar

Doctor 6:

Practice practice practice. Get as many post MRCPsych people to watch you as possible (even better as many examiners as possible). Attend the mock CASC. Book into the premier inn across the road. Try and do something fun to relax the night before (I can recommend the cinema, some dinner, and a hot bath) as the hotel is full of anxious people. The day is long and hard. You will feel deflated at the end. Don’t worry this is what everyone feels.

Doctor 7:

Do a mock CASC course I only did Cardiff but I heard others were useful and I probably would have felt more confident if I had done another. Oxford Psych did a course a few weeks before the exam in the actual venue which would have been really useful.

I found the SPMM videos really helpful

Doctor 8:

The CASC exam can be difficult but it is achievable. Start working early and build your confidence through lots of group practice. Attend mock exams if possible and take feedback on board.

I hope you find this information useful and all the best for your exam.

2 thoughts on “MRCPsych CASC Experience & Advice from Successful Candidates (2018)

  1. I did my CASC back in 2012
    The exam marking system was different.
    But methods for preparation was probably the same
    Lots of practice, making a group of CASC candidates & loads of practice with them.
    I mostly used SPMM notes, took feedback from seniors, NICE guidelines & Maudsley prescribing guidelines.

    The exam is artificial assessment of your skills in 7 minutes
    You need to be confident and communicate clearly & read the task very carefully. Don’t get distracted or derail as there is no time.

    Like

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