For over eight years we have been organising CASC mock examinations for the Welsh Deanery. We are a group of ST doctors and consultants who arrange these exams regularly and with the current COVID-19 restrictions we have adopted the examination to an online format.
Here is a brief outline of how we have been achieving this. We will need the following roles to be fulfilled in order for the exam run smoothly.
- Online platform
- Mock exam and feedback circuits
The core group of organisers are usually Consultants and senior ST level doctors with a good understanding of the CASC exam. We divide the roles and responsibilities and stay in touch using WhatsApp and emails. Our current group has two RCPsych CASC examiners.
We set a date about 3-4 weeks before the actual exam. Roles can be divided as
- Candidate manager
- Scenario manager
- Examiner manager
- Actor’s manager
We prepare a list of RCPsych CASC examiners in our deanery and approach them directly requesting them to help us with the Mock exam if possible. We aim to encourage the enlisting of college examiners as possible so our junior doctors can get advice from experienced examiners.
After exhausting the college examiners we approach other experienced consultants and ST doctors and also keep some ST doctors on standby last minute changes or emergencies.
Some examiners sign up for whole day event while others for half a day depending on their timetable.
We try and match the the examiners with their subspecialty.
This is where we ask for funding from the deanery and approach a local acting agency which usually cover the medical school exams as well. In the past we also used university drama school students as well.
Professional actors help to improve the quality of the CASC Mock.
If a scenario involved speaking to a consultant, we use ST doctors as actors.
If the scenarios involve explanation like for example ECT, Clozapine or Lithium, we can use Medical students as actors.
You can approach local university drama school which will usually have keen acting students looking for opportunities to act.
If you do not have sufficient funds for professional actors, you can request ST doctors to help out.
Scenarios are written usually by the ST doctors who recently sat the exam and base them on common exams themes but we do NOT copy the actual exam stations.
Every written scenario will include
- Candidate instructions
- Actor’s script and instructions
- Examiner’s instructions and clinically relevant notes on the topic to help them with marking
Over the years we have developed a good collections of CASC scenarios which include explanation, history taking, information gathering and examination stations.
As the Mock is funded by the deanery, we offer it to the trainees first and the ones going for the next CASC attempt is given preference.
It is also open for speciality doctors working in Wales and other doctors if we have spaces left. Candidates do not pay anything.
To complete a circuit, you need 8 candidates for each event.
Running a Mock on online platform requires certain degree of IT expertise and luckily we have an ST doctor on our team with an excellent expertise to manage Zoom along with breakout rooms.
The stations are created into zoom breakout rooms and candidates moved between them.
The main Zoom coordinator can keep time and send instructions to start reading instructions, stop reading and person, one-minute warning and end station warning.
The examiners are trained to share their screens for the station so that the candidate can read instructions as they would on the day of their exam.
Mock exam day:
Starts with introductions and examiner, actors and candidate briefing.
The examiners are advised to join using laptop with the function of share screen.
The scenario instructions are shared by examiners on the screen and the main IT person had the opportunity to send messages on time
An important part of this process in the feedback circuit, which starts right after the Mock exam circuit finishes. Every candidate is rotated back into each room for 4 minute where they receive 1:1 feedback from examiners and actors on how they performed and areas required for improvement.
All candidates receive their mark sheets via email after the event along with attendance certificate.
Examiners receive their CPD certificate.
If we are using student actors from drama school, they will get acting experience certificate.
We gather feedback on the way the Mock was run in order to improve it.
I hope this was helpful.