MRCP UK Part 2 – Basics about Prep

Having taken almost half a dozen postgraduate exams, I’ve realized that everyone has a different pattern of learning and retaining information. I have my own way which I never discovered during MBBS. When in fact, that was the ideal time to study. My mother took care of my needs and my only worry was to study for the professional exams. Yet, I always found excuses not to study. Binge watching seasons in the prof holidays or wasting time doing absolutely nothing!

Come today, I am married, have a husband and house to take care of and live in a far-off land from my home country, away from the comforts of my mother. I have taken and passed MRCP UK Part 1 and 2 in these new circumstances, Alhamdulilah. The experiences have been different but I have learned to adjust. And of course, the successes couldn’t have been possible without the undying support of my husband.

My technique is “hard work” and doing it consistently. So, if you’re looking for shortcuts then this blog is certainly not for you.

As I recently took MRCP UK Part 2 so I will write about that first.

Where Part 1 is mostly about diagnostics, Part 2 is all about investigations and management. But there may be a few questions about diagnoses of diseases so Part 1 knowledge will definitely help. There are 3 basic components of Part 2 preparation:

Qbank, theory and data interpretation.

You require 3 – 4 months depending upon how much time you can spare for studies every day

Qbank

You can choose from Pastest, Pass medicine or OnExam. Mostly people advise to have Pastest as your main qbank and you can supplement with others if you have time. I felt during both my MRCP exams that it’s better to do one qbank really well rather than doing 2 – 3 qbanks half-heartedly. You can choose to do the books or buy subscriptions for online questions. Online versions will be more updated as compared to the books in terms of guidelines. However, if you find it hard to focus on phone or laptop and really need to study from books then you can do that too.

Theory

I tried to study from Al Maghrabi books but they were too voluminous for me and I couldn’t continue with them. So, I made my own notes and stuck with them till the end. I tried to rote learn them by revising them every single day especially during the last month or so.

Data interpretation

You need to mainly focus on ECG, radiology and fundoscopy. The book, “150 cases of ECG” is sufficient for this purpose. For imaging, “Radiology by ABM Abdullah” will provide a good foundation however, it is nowhere being enough. In the exam, there were many images that I had never seen in my whole life! So, this needs extensive preparation if you want to be thorough. Lastly, I googled fundoscopy images of important diseases and saved them for reviewing a few times.

My preparation

Initially I had planned to take the October 2020 exam so I started my first read from the Pastest books in June 2020. I attempted nearly 75% of the questions in around a month. (The books contain about 3000 questions) However, my first full-time hospital job in Ireland started soon afterwards so I couldn’t continue. Then I postponed my exam to March 2021 and that’s when I eventually took the exam. Then, I again started the preparation five months later in December 2020. Unfortunately, I had forgotten most of the topics by that time so I had to start anew. But I feel, that my initial 1st read of the Pastest books had helped me to get used to the format of questions.

When I started my First read in December, I was still working so I could only spare 2-3 hours on every alternate day. Remember, I was living in Ireland where no home help is available so I was managing my household at the same time as well. I tried to do 50-60 questions from the Pastest books on the days that I was able to study. At this point, I was just trying to understand the concepts and retain whatever information I could. I had also subscribed to the online Pastest and would try to do some questions on my phone app while at work. This routine continued in January and then my husband and I got infected with COVID so 2 weeks just got wasted that way.

After I recovered from COVID, then I began my studies with new vigour. Fortunately, I wasn’t working anymore at this point so I could focus fully on the exam. I finished my 1st read by Mid-February. In the last days of 1st read, I also read through the ECG book, doing 25 ECGs per day and so finishing the book in 6 days. I had also started making my own notes focusing on indications of certain treatments like pacemaker, defibrillator etc; treatment details of diseases; side effects of drugs; features of infectious diseases and dermatological conditions (these two topics were the most confusing when it came to diagnoses); specific diagnostic tests and management of disorders.

After this, I moved fully to the Online pastest for my Second read. I did approximately 100 questions per day along with an additional item like radiology, images or revising my notes. Now, I was studying on average 6 hours every single day. Sometimes, this would go up to 8 hours and at others would drop down to 3 – 4 hours. However, I did not skip any day completely. I was making and revising notes concurrently. I also started revising my MRCP Part 1 notes and at this time, I strongly wished that I had not given so much gap between the two exams because some knowledge definitely does overlap.

Some seniors had also suggested to study “Sanjay Sharma” and “Data interpretation by Steven Hughes” but I did not have time for a detailed read. I only read through the last few pages of Sanjay Sharma which explained some data interpretation concepts and I went through all the images in the “clinical scenarios” portion of the book. I did not study “Steven Hughes” at all. I also googled fundoscopy images and went through the images in the “ABM Abdullah Radiology” book. I spent nearly 8 days on the radiology book and kept saving the google images (e.g. fundus, haematology slides, echo, dermatology etc) whenever I came upon similar questions in Pastest. I also saved some screenshots of radiology like chest xrays, CT scans etc from the online pastest which I found were difficult to remember and might need repeated reviews. Thus, I was making my own ‘Images’ library which I revised a few times before the exam.

I had tagged some difficult questions (approx. 500) in Online Pastest during my 2nd read because I knew that I would not have time to do a full 3rd read. Thus, I did a selective Third read in the last 2 days before the exam. I also revised ECGs; radiology book; Sanjay sharma images and last pages; my ‘images’ library and of course all my notes.

Summary

My exam preparation consisted of total 76 days (roughly 2.5 months) of which the breakdown was as follows:

First read: 46 days with approx. 60 questions per day and study time of 3 hours/day

Second read: 28 days with approx. 100 questions per day along with miscellaneous items and study time of 6 hours/day

Selective Third read: 2 days with approx. 250 questions per day along with revision of miscellaneous items and study time of 8 hours/day

I wished that I had 2 more weeks so that I could do a complete 3rd read and some past papers as well from Pastest, other Qbanks and MRCP UK website. However, I did not have time for any of that. I was indeed very anxious going into the exam with this inadequate preparation.

But all’s well that ends well. I passed the exam with this preparation so no harm done 🙂

For details about the online exam: MRCP UK Part 2 – Online Exam experience. Click here: https://magicwithmedicine.wordpress.com/2021/05/29/mrcp-uk-part-2-online-exam/

Published by Farkhanda

A YLCian who's become an active citizen...!

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