MRCP UK Part 1 exam can be taken any time after graduation. Some students have everything planned on time. They pass MBBS; do house job; take their PLAB exams; get a job in UK and then start preparing for MRCP UK during their jobs. Others just go with the flow. After house job, they pass FCPS part 1; get post graduate training and yet are still not satisfied. Either for wont of a foreign degree or to escape to greener pastures, they take MRCP exams during the first or second year of residency. Some do so before IMM (intermediate module) and others do right after IMM while the preparation is still fresh because the basic books are the same for IMM and MRCP UK Parts 1 and 2 exams.
And there are still others who just stumble upon MRCP because life brings them there. This last category applies to me. I was half way through FCPS Neurology from Mayo Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan when marriage brought me abruptly to Ireland. I felt totally lost at first not knowing what to do ahead. My registration for Irish Medical Council was in process but was delayed unnecessarily due to the PMDC/PMC debacle (I’ll write about this in another blog). As my husband and I had a plan to ultimately move to UK in the long run so I thought to begin my MRCP UK exams.
The Part 1 is a relatively easier exam as comparted to Part 2. As per my experience, you need to do one qbank really well. And you can supplement with other qbanks if you have time. Moreover, you might need to study the background of some topics form Oxford handbook because MBBS knowledge is mostly stale by this time. Thirdly, you can either have a book for notes (Suda notes were recommended by some colleagues) or make your own notes for reviewing multiple times.
When I started preparing for my exam, I had already passed IMM by that time so I had done one preliminary read of all the Part 1 pass medicine books. That’s why it took me only 1.5 month for the preparation. Otherwise, I would suggest at least 2 – 3 months for it especially if you’re also working concomitantly.
Pass medicine books were my primary Qbank. They consist of 7 volumes and have approx. 2700 questions. Initially, my study was merely 3 – 4 hours per day in which I did first read of Pass medicine (roughly 80 -100 questions/day) and started making my own notes too. Causes, risk factors, prognostic factors and any other relevant information which needed rote learning was written in these notes. I will try to share my notes in this space because they helped me tremendously during the exam and I hope they can help others too. Also, during this first read, I recognized my weakness in the basic concepts of some topics so I studied them from Oxford handbook and made their notes too. These topics included haematology, oncology and endocrinology. Having a better understanding of these topics made it easier to attempt similar questions. Furthermore, my suggestion is to get acquainted with the weightage of different topics in the actual exam i.e. how many questions would come from each topic. (This information is present on the MRCP UK website). That way, you can focus on the topics with more coverage in the exam. Some areas like ophthalmology, dermatology and psychiatry may not have that much primacy but with a little extra effort, you can score very well in these fields.
I finished first read in 27 days and then moved on to second read. During this time, I was doing 180 – 200 questions/day, revising my own notes and also trying to branch out into other qbanks as much as I could. From my On exam books, I attempted a mock test and did 6-700 questions from the website www.revisemrcp.com (it’s totally free of cost). Here, I discerned that On exam and Revise mrcp had some elaborate questions on biostatistics and doing these really helped me in the exam. Lastly, I took the practice exam on the MRCP UK website. Consequently, my second read finished in 14 days (approx. 5 – 6 study hours/day), leaving only a week before the exam. As there are no MRCP UK exam centers in Ireland so this necessitated travelling to UK to take this exam. Therefore, 1 – 2 days got spent in packing and travelling.
Ultimately, my selective third read spanned over 5 days with approx. 7-8 study hours/day. I had marked some difficult questions (almost 900 questions) during 2nd read and only did these now and revised my notes.
I took the exam on 7th January 2020 in the London centre. As it was a new city for me, I visited the exam centre a day before the exam to make myself acquainted with the surroundings. I would definitely advise to do this if you’re going to take the exam in an unknown city. On the exam day, I travelled to the centre with my husband on the London underground tube. And believe it or not, I was revising my notes even while we were on the way! If you have read my blog on MRCP Part 2 prep, then you would know that this is just my habit to study till the last possible moment!
I reached the center pretty early and still found it very crowded. Remember, these were pre-COVID times. Anyhow, the paper started on time. Paper 1 was 3 hours long with 100 questions. There was no issue with time management during the exam. In fact, I finished well before time and even munched on my chocolates. During the lunch break, I ate my home-made sandwiches and bought some coffee from the coffee shop. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my Irish debit card worked there which was a good thing. I had taken some cash in pounds also just in case but didn’t need to use it. Paper 2 was again 3 hours long and had 100 questions and by the end, I was totally exhausted but glad to have been done with the exam.
I received the result exactly one month later and viola…I had passed! 😊
Blog about MRCP UK Part 2 preparation: https://magicwithmedicine.wordpress.com/2021/05/24/mrcp-uk-part-2-basics-about-prep/