Are you an overseas histopathologist looking to sit the FRCPath exams?
Today we’re bringing you a guide on how to prepare for the FRCPath Histopathology Part 1 exam from Dr Maria, clinical fellow in cellular pathology in London. Maria passed the FRCPath Part 1 exam in March 2021 and is sharing her top tips for FRCPath aspirants, including study planning, revision materials and what you should know about the Part 1 exam.
1. Create a plan and schedule for your study (this is most important!)
I started studying around 3 months before the exam, spending 2-3 hours per day on weekdays and around 5-7 hours on study at the weekend.
REMINDER: This all depends on how much you know already. You cannot focus constantly for hours, so you should schedule your studying time around the way that you know you work best.
Leading up to the exam
Try to keep at least 2 weeks free prior to the exam to re-revise problematic topics and genetics.
The day before exam
Be kind to yourself. Have a good meal, try to relax if you can and avoid stressing too much. Go to bed early and have a good, long sleep.
2. Revision materials
I had been revising using my old notes, where I studied from these books (the best for trainees in my opinion):
Diagnostic Pathology: Lymph Nodes and Extra-nodal Lymphomas
Diagnostic Pathology: Blood and Bone Marrow
Diagnostic Pathology: Vascular
Diagnostic Pathology: Hospital Autopsy
There are so many books, and it would be too expensive to purchase them all, so stick to what you've got in your department or can borrow from friends or colleagues.
The Pathology Outlines website is also excellent for quick review and genetics! There are also MCQs.
Some trainees study from the Robbins Pathology books, however, in my opinion, this book alone is not enough for the Part 1 exam.
For the MCQs, I used the following resources:
Practical Applications in Histopathology, Cytopathology and Autopsy: an MCQ/ EMQ Resource – Limci Gupta, Jayson Wang, Val Thomas
Anatomic Pathology Board Review – Jay H. Lefkowitch
Robbins Review of Pathology - Edward Klatt, Vinay Kumar
Sternberg's Diagnostic Surgical Pathology Review – Pier Luigi Di Patre, Darryl Carter
Various past papers I found within my network
If you have access to old presentations from FRCPath Part 1 courses, I’d suggest having a look at them. It’s a good idea to use them to review and revise a topic, followed by some MCQs on that topic.
27 October 2020
Liver, GB, Pancreas
Renal & Urinary
Thoracic Pathology (Lung & Mediastinum)
5 January 2021
FGT & Placenta
Oral & Nasal
Autopsy & Forensic
Syndromes & Paediatric
11 March onwards
This is a guide to the revision schedule I used for my FRCPath preparation. I actually started studying in December, so I had less time to fit this all in, but I was able to revise faster to cover everything.
3. FRCPath Part 1 Exam
The questions in the FRCPath Part 1 exam are usually quite straightforward, so you either know the answer or you don't, nothing misleading or tricky.
Some key topics you’ll need to know for the exam:
Genetics and the mutation of tumours (and yes...you'll need to learn each tumour that has any typical mutation and its name)
Immunohistochemistry of lesions
Microscopic pictures (all the micro images I had in the test depicted typical morphology)
Genetic syndromes, the mutations behind them and what lesions are most common
Datasets - they are quite wordy, so focus only on pTN, and the stage of each organ system
Parts of a microscope
There were some questions from general pathology (necrosis, inflammation, etc.), but I’d say most of the questions were from GI, breast, gynae, skin, soft tissue and kidney.
However, you'll have at least a few questions from each of the other organ systems, so it's better to study everything rather than focus on the most common ones only.
Prepare early – try to start your preparation early to give yourself enough time to cover all the relevant sections on the Royal College curriculum.
Find the right materials to support your study – it's good to use a combination of resources for your study to reinforce existing knowledge and benchmark your progress. Try to find the right materials for you as early as possible to hit the ground running with your revision.
Familiarise yourself with the Royal College curriculum – we cannot stress this enough! All countries have different training programmes, so being well versed in what the RCPath will be looking for is key.
Join the IMG Histopathologists community – as well as support on Royal College exams, our online community of international pathologists and dedicated pathology recruiters offers guidance on other aspects of working in the UK, including finding NHS posts and CESR.
Attaining FRCPath Histopathology is a great first step for histopathologists wanting to find senior roles in the NHS. It can be difficult for overseas trainees to prepare for the first exam in the Royal College examination suite, but this quick guide from a successful FRCPath pathologist is a great start for pathologists pursuing the postgraduate route to GMC registration and finding work in the UK.
For more information on the FRCPath exams, take a look at our IMG Resources library.
If you have any further questions about FRCPath, your route to the UK as an overseas histopathologist, or any other aspect of GMC Registration, please get in touch with us here.
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