If you’re appearing for MRCP UK Part 2 exam from UK or Republic of Ireland then your exam would be online. As I am based in Ireland so my exam was online. It had its pros and cons.
On the upside, I did not have to travel to UK for the exam as I had done for the Part 1 exam (there are no exam centres in Ireland for MRCP UK exams) so that gave me more time for exam preparation. But the downside was the whole new experience of the Online exam.
In the run up to the exam, the MRCP administration sent various emails with instructions about the online exam and their website also contained practice papers. I read all the instructions and also did a practice exam just to get an idea what the online exam would be like.
On the exam day, I woke up early and revised my notes for an hour in the morning before having breakfast. I know there are people who say not to study one day before the exam and just relax. However, I have NEVER been one of those people. I always study till the last possible moment. I remember during our professional exams in MBBS, I used to be rummaging my books until the invigilators’ last call for the start of paper distribution!
Anyhow, my exam was due to start at 9:30 AM. So, I was in front of my laptop screen at 9:15 AM. Once you click on the ‘Start exam’ link, you are taken to a webpage with the countdown to the exam time. So basically, nothing starts before the start time, not even the identification and environment checks. When the countdown ended, a window opened where my webcam and microphone were enabled. I was asked to show my identification document and then its picture was taken. In the instructions, it was written that we were allowed to have a paper and pen. I wasn’t aware of that and as you know there are many questions that require written calculations so I really needed that paper and pen. There was a chat window in which you could communicate with the proctor so I asked the proctor, if it were okay for me to fetch my paper and pen. I waited for 5 minutes for an answer but none was forthcoming. I then texted again but still no answer. Like this, I waited for 15 minutes. Now, I was getting anxious that my exam time was getting wasted because Paper 2 was due to start at 2:00 PM and I had to finish Paper 1 before that and have some break time too. In one of the pre-exam instructions, it was mentioned that if you wanted washroom break then you could inform your proctor in the chat window and could leave without waiting for an answer. So, I thought to apply the same rule here and went out of the room to get my paper and pen. Then I came back and pictures were taken of my stationery. However, I was surprised that they did not ask me to show my room which I had painstakingly cleared of all belongings except for my bed.
Thus, all the checks were completed and my exam finally began at 10:00 AM and the timer started at this time for 3 hours for Paper 1. My webcam and microphone were functional and my screensharing was also on. I had also cleared my desktop of all documents and I had no other webpages opened except my Gmail which contained the exam links. Now, Paper 1 was the most difficult exam I have ever taken in my life. The question stems were quite long and the answer options were very confusing. There used to be at least 2 options which both could have been right. Here, I felt that I should’ve focused more on guidelines of disease management because that’s what it boiled down to. There were a few mind-boggling radiology images too which I had no clue about. Almost 1 hour into the exam, a warning box appeared on my screen which I ignored because I was already tensed about the exam and did not want distractions. After every few minutes, it kept springing up and finally exasperated, I decided to read it. My screen sharing had turned off for some unknown reason! I told my proctor (communication was through a chat box) and he said, it was tech support’s responsibility to deal with this issue. So, then I asked tech support (through another chat box) and thankfully they replied promptly and asked me to refresh my webpage. When I did that, the issue resolved and screen sharing was back on after a lapse of 30-40 minutes. All this communication had wasted precious 10-15 minutes but I was also worried if the lapse in screen sharing would cause any problems. Though my webcam was switched on throughout. Anyhow, it was a technical glitch and I could do nothing about it. But my advice for people out there taking online exams: do not ignore warning boxes, they may contain important information. Thankfully, I have great reading speed so I was still on time for my questions. I was trying to do 30-35 questions per hour. At the end, I finished the paper with 20 minutes sparing in which I went through my tagged questions (almost 10-15). However, this was not a good time to sort out difficult questions because I was already exhausted. Anyhow, at long last, the laborious process of Paper 1 ended. I informed the proctor and submitted my exam.
Then, I just lay down on my bed, thinking I would have to start my preparation for Part 2 again because no way could I pass this exam. With great difficulty and with support from my husband, I tried to forget Paper 1 and focus on Paper 2. I had some lunch and then was again in front of my laptop screen 10 minutes before 2:00 PM – start time for Paper 2.
Paper 2 was a less painful exam as compared to Paper 1 and I finally felt that I was familiar with the theme of the questions. The questions were very much similar to the Pastest ones and I finally breathed a sigh of relief. Again, almost an hour into the paper, I suddenly noticed that my webcam light had switched off! Worried, I contacted the proctor who referred me to tech support again. They told me a few things to do and the issue sorted out. This had once more, wasted precious exam time! As paper 2 was easier so I was able to do 40 questions per hour and thus I was done with the exam with half an hour remaining. I again went through the tagged questions and still there was some time remaining. Finally, the clock struck 5:00 PM and I informed the proctor and submitted my exam.
And thus, MRCP UK Part 2 was done and dusted!
I got the exam result exactly one month later and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had somehow passed the exam! Happy ending, Alhamdulilah 😊
For the blog about MRCP UK Part 2 preparation, Click here: https://magicwithmedicine.wordpress.com/2021/05/24/mrcp-uk-part-2-basics-about-prep/