Dr Shafiq’s Experience of MRCPsych Exam

Please note this blog was written in Oct 2019. The MRCPsych exam regulations and format may change with time.

HOW I PASSED MRCPSYCH EXAMS IN FIRST ATTEMPT

I did my core training in psychiatry from August 2016 till July 2019 in North east deanery. Just a brief overview about exams in MRCPsych. There are 3 exams:

Paper A

Paper B

CASC

I attempted paper A as CT1 and paper B and CASC as CT3. You can take paper A and B in any order. 


PAPER A PREPARATION:           

CRITERIA:

You are eligible to take Paper A if you are a fully registered medical practitioner.

DURATION OF PREPARATION:

7-8 Weeks

MATERIAL USED:

SPMM online subscription
Mrcpsychmentor subscription
SPMM mocks
Mrcpsychmentor mock

WHAT I DID WITH MATERIALS:

I started by subscribing to SPMM and Mrcpsychmentor. In Mrcpsychmentor and SPMM if you do MCQs and EMIs there is an explanation underneath every question for how the answer was the given answer. There is also some relevant information related to the topic. I started directly by doing question bank and reading the explanation and trying to memorise the explanations as well. Initially obviously 80% questions I attempted were incorrect but I didn’t feel disheartened by it. I just kept on going until I finished both question banks. In SPMM there are separate notes for each topics as well and well I didn’t waste time reading those notes. I kept my focus on MCQs and the explanations. Then I attempted all the questions again and marked the questions I still did wrong.

6 weeks before the exam I subscribed to the mocks. The SPMM mock set gives you nearly 6 mock tests and Mrcpsychmentor you get 1 mock. I attempted the mocks and did them twice and read explanation. In the end I had marked some questions from mocks and question banks which I revised in end days. I had also written some notes from explanations for me to revise in end days.

I utilised all of my annual leaves and my study leaves for exams to put in the maximum effort and it paid off in the end.


PAPER B PREPARATION:           

CRITERIA:

You are eligible to take Paper B if:

you’re on an approved training programme. We recommend you have 12 months’ experience in psychiatry before attempting Paper B.

OR

you are in a post recognised by your hospital or trust as having contracted time and funding for educational training. Your job plan must include dedicated time for academic and educational activities such as attending journal clubs, grand rounds, attending an MRCPsych course of equivalent, study leave and weekly educational supervision.

DURATION OF PREPARATION:

10-11 Weeks

MATERIAL USED:

SPMM online subscription
Mrcpsychmentor subscription
SPMM mocks
Mrcpsychmentor mock

WHAT I DID WITH MATERIALS:

So this is a tricky exam to pass as it encompasses nearly 33% of statistics and related stuff, 33% general adult and rest of 33% includes all other specialities.So I divided my preparation into 2 parts – Statistics and Clinical. For clinical part I did exactly the same as I did for paper A utilising both banks.

For statistics I did a different approach. There are SPMM videos (nearly 24) for understanding statistics. I printed the SPMM pdf notes for topics of statistics. I started topic wise. I would watch the videos, write notes from the videos with coloured pens on the relevant SPMM pdf notes and then attempt that particular topic related questions in both banks. Doing this way helped me to understand statistics in a better way. Once I finished attempting all questions for statistics I did a course called “Cambridge MRCPsych Critical Review Course” which is run by Dr. Paul Wilkinson. One thing I would say is that only go for this course if you have attempted the questions and watched the videos once at least, only then this course will help you to fully benefit from this course and you can clear out any queries, otherwise it might not benefit you well. After this course I only went through the statistics notes (SPMM pdf + my own notes) for revision.

As for paper B I did mocks from both banks as described above about paper A. I did the same by utilising all of my annual leaves and study leaves to put in maximum effort.


CASC PREPARATION:

CRITERIA:

Training Requirements

A. 24 months whole time equivalent post foundation/internship experience

in Psychiatry by the time of sitting the CASC to include the following:

Individual Posts should normally be of a minimum of 4 months duration

regardless of the number of weekly sessions. Trainees are expected to

work a minimum of 50% (or five sessions a week).

Appropriate experience gained by candidates is to be verified by sponsors.

AND

B. A pass in Papers A and B OR comply with transitional arrangements

All applicants for the CASC must hold a valid pass in Papers A and B OR

comply with transitional arrangements. The Written Paper

Validity Period must be valid up until and including the first day of the

relevant CASC which an applicant wishes to sit.

Note:

• If a candidate’s Written Paper Validity Period expires on the day before

the date of the first day of the relevant CASC examination diet, the

candidate will be ineligible to sit the CASC.

• If a candidate’s Written Paper Validity Period expires on the second or

any of the later dates of the relevant CASC examination diet the

candidate will be eligible to sit the CASC irrespective of the day

allocated to the candidate to undertake the examination.

AND

C. For posts within a programme of approved training

I. Successful completion of Annual Review of Competence Progression

(ARCP) (achieved by the time of applying for the CASC)

documented on the application form by the Sponsor.

and

II. Sponsorship

D. For all other posts

I. Successful completion of an Assessment Portfolio demonstrating

achievement of equivalent competencies to those defined in the

ARCP documented on the application form which must include

competencies in Psychotherapy AND Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

or Learning Disability (achieved by the time of applying for the

CASC).

and

II. Sponsorship

DURATION OF PREPARATION:

6-7 Weeks

MATERIAL USED:

SPMM CASC STATIONS
SPMM CASC COURSE

CASC FORMAT:

The CASC is made up of two circuits of individual stations which will test your clinical skills:

The morning circuit will have 4 minutes to read the instructions (PDF) and 7 minutes to complete the task

The afternoon circuit will have 90 seconds to read the instructions and 7 minutes to complete the task.

The 16 CASC station exam is made up of:

5 stations focused on History Taking, including risk assessment

5 stations focused on Examination – both physical and mental state, including capacity assessment.

6 stations focused on patient Management

Circuit 1

6 stations focused on Management

1 x station focused on Examination

1 x station focused on History Taking

4 minutes reading

7 minute task

Circuit 2

4 x stations focused on Examination

4 x stations focused on History Taking

90 seconds reading

7 minute task

To meet the minimum standard required in the CASC exam, you must meet or exceed the total borderline regression score and achieve the passing score in a minimum of 12 stations. You must meet both criteria to be successful.

WHAT I DID WITH MATERIALS:

This is an exam to be prepared in a group (minimum 3 maximum 4 people). SPMM pdf gives you nearly 180 stations to prepare for the exam. Prepare the stations well. You need to be very well versed with the background knowledge of each station. Also write important headings of how would you structure the station in 7 minutes. I read the explanations well and started practicing in a group. My other colleagues watched the videos from SPMM and Birmingham but I only watched few videos because I felt like I would just copy them and wouldn’t do my own style. We practiced almost everyday because we had very little time to finish all stations. We also practiced and discussed the stations with other consultants. We identified consultants who have been CASC examiners and practiced with them and got tips related to some specific stations. What I would suggest to everyone is “STICK TO THE TASK”. If they have asked you to mental state then do mental state, don’t start with history taking. And its alright if you get flustered in one station don’t let it overtake your rest of the stations. I passed 14/16 stations and I failed 2 most easy station out of which one was physical exam which I used to do on daily basis. They were most silly stations and I think only v few people would have failed the 2 stations that I failed.

(Note: I have taken some information in this blog from rcpsych website)


Dr Shafiq is a ST trainee in North West Deanery

Email: sehrishshafiq@hotmail.com

Published by

Raja Adnan Ahmed

I am a Consultant Psychiatrist working in South Wales. I am interested in raising awareness of mental illness, fighting the stigma around mental health and also medical education. I am passionate about supporting junior doctors & IMGs.

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