MRCPsych CASC - preparation, guidance and resources
September 15, 2021
Are you an overseas psychiatrist preparing to take the MRCPsych CASC exam?
International doctors often have questions about how to prepare for the CASC exam, particularly when there are so many materials and information online which can be overwhelming or mostly geared towards UK applicants and trainees.
What study materials, courses and support are available for IMGs? Here we have compiled some of the best advice and resources available to help in your preparation for the exam. We will also address some of the changes in the availability of test centres and exam delivery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The topics we’ll cover are as follows - skip to one of these sections if you know what you're looking for:
If you’d like an overview of the entire examination series, take a look at the article published in our IMG Library here.
What is MRCPsych CASC?
Let’s begin with a quick recap of the CASC exam. The Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies or CASC is a practical exam which takes the format of an OSCE and tests your clinical skills in a range of competencies.
It is made up of two circuits of individual stations made up of:
Five stations on history taking, including risk assessment
Five stations on examination, including physical and mental state
Six stations on patient management
For full guidance on the structure of the exam, visit the examination page of the Royal College website or see our detailed blog on the MRCPsych CASC exam here.
Getting started with preparation
It can be tough to know the best place to start, and after talking with some psychiatry consultants (both IMGs and UK trainees), the general consensus was that the Royal College website is the best place to begin. There are some great resources on their website to help applicants to prepare for the exam.
Royal College Materials
Syllabus: this is the best place to start - you should always plan your study and preparation around the topics within the curriculum to start you off on the best path to success. You can find this here.
CASC candidate guide: this handy guide contains information on domain-based marking, candidate instructions, pass mark, exam criteria and grade descriptors, which you can access here.
Blueprint: the CASC blueprint is a more detailed breakdown of the skills being assessed within the exam and the categories and stations candidates should expect to find. This is available here.
Marksheets: copies of the marksheets which are used in the exam are available online for history, management and examination and allow candidates to familiarise themselves with the marksheets in advance, found here.
Sample stations videos: you can watch videos of sample stations from a face-to-face examination – this will be similar to what you can expect on the day as the principles will remain the same for online exams. You can access these here.
What other resources are available?
IMG Connect have a library of written resources geared towards preparation for the CASC exam. If you’re interested in any of these, please get in touch here and we would be delighted to share these with you.
Other online resources available for the exam include a mixture of paid and free resources. These include:
These are the most highly rated books for MRCPsych CASC on Amazon:
MRCPsych CASC flashcards: flashcards created by a former candidate who has passed the exam. 136 flashcards which cover different aspects of the exam. These are available for free here on Brainscape.
CASC Cluster Cards – Oxfordpsych revision cards written by a consultant psychiatrist in the UK. This is a set of 100 CASC scenarios with instructions and guidance to remember. These can be found here at a cost of £169.
CASC Videos – SPMM: 86 exam stations performed by consultants and role players under exam conditions, featuring advice and tips from examiners for each task. 6 months access is priced at £180 and is available on demand. These are available here.
Oxfordpsych – access to the Oxfordpsych online video bank featuring short and long instruction CASC stations, covering the range of stations and tasks listed in the CASC blueprint. 6 months access costs £169 and £99 for 3 months and can be found here.
CASC Prepare mock exam
This exam consists of 16 stations which have all featured in previous RCPsych CASC exams. The mock will be conducted in the format of the actual exam and detailed written feedback on RCPsych marking sheets will be provided after the exam. Other aspects of the exam such ass time management, and communication strategies will also be discussed.
These online exams are based on the RCPsych CASC blueprint. Candidates take the 16 stations under exam conditions and interview with professional actors with CASC experience. Candidates will receive written feedback for each station.
This mock exam is carried out over skype or zoom and has 8 continuous stations with one 20-minute break, followed by the final 8 stations. It is set according to the CASC blueprint and is available with or without an actor.
Start your revision early – starting in advance allows you to pace yourself and get ahead of the stresses of last-minute revision and anxiety.
Find the right materials for you – whether its online courses, books or flashcards, try to figure out what the best materials are to jumpstart your preparation
Speak to your peers and colleagues – your senior colleagues may have been through this process themselves and may have helpful tips and guidance to share. Or maybe you’ll find a like-minded peer with whom you can be study buddies! Take advantage of those around you to support you on this journey.
Practise, practise, practise - Our IMGs have shared that it’s crucial that you practice your clinical examinations as often as possible, preferably under the supervision of a senior colleague which will allow you to receive feedback.
Join the online psychiatry community - for news and updates about all things psychiatry for IMGs, follow IMG Connect on social media and join the conversation.
How the exams been affected by COVID-19
As a result of the pandemic, all MRCPsych exams have moved online. Applicants from Singapore and Hong Kong who intended to sit exams in local centres are also invited to apply for the online sitting of the exam.
The application process for the exam takes 15 – 20 minutes where candidates will need a valid debit/ credit card, as well as the email address and full details of your sponsor. Further details on the application process can be found here.
I've passed, what’s next?
Once you’ve passed MRCPsych CASC, you’ve completed the Royal College of Psychiatrists examination suite. Great stuff, this is a massive achievement! Armed with this and your English language test, you are ready to apply for full GMC registration with license to practice.
You may want to start looking for NHS jobs and with the click of a button, you can receive them directly to your inbox. To receive jobs postings which you can tailor to your desired grade, specialty and sub-specialism, sign up here.
If you have any questions about any element of CASC, the Royal College exams as a whole or any other queries related to the processes involved in IMGs coming to the UK to work in the NHS, please get in touch and our psychiatry specialist will be more than happy to assist you.
The IMG Connect team hope that this article has been helpful for any trainees looking to sit their MRCPsych CASC exam and wish you the best of luck!