10 Tips for Passing MRCPsych A & B with Dr Kevin Li

  • May 02, 2022

Are you an overseas psychiatrist taking the postgraduate route to GMC registration? Are you just beginning your journey through the MRCPsych exams?  

Today, we’re back with Dr Kevin Li, who will be sharing some top tips on the MRCPsych Paper A and Paper B for overseas MRCPsych A & B aspirants. Kevin is a brilliant psychiatry specialty doctor who relocated to the UK from Hong Kong, having passed the MRCPsych and received full GMC registration with license to practice. 

1. Start with the Royal College website 

This is the best place to begin as it has key information including the syllabus - on which the exam is based, helping to guide the course of your preparation and revision. 

2. Don’t use resources that are more than 3 years old – 5 years maximum 

The curriculum and syllabus for Specialty Training in Psychiatry are updated regularly, so it’s best to find and use resources that are as up-to-date as possible. 

3. Don’t combine study for Paper A and Paper B 

Focus on each paper as an individual element – they each have different requirements, including what sections of the syllabus they are targeting and how much experience you must have before sitting the exam.  

4. Divide your time according to the marks weighting of the sections 

For example, general adult and critical review have the most marks in the exam, with 20% and 33.5% respectively, so you should prioritise these in your revision, then try to spend a proportionate amount of time on each section based on the marks it holds. 

5. Perfect what you know 

If there are any areas you are experienced or confident in, try to perfect these in order to gain the most marks possible in what you find to be the least challenging areas. These areas may also be easier to revise if they are better aligned with your training and practice to date. 

6. Which exam should you sit first? It depends 

If you want to pass the exams as quickly as possible, it makes sense to apply for the nearest upcoming diet of whichever exam comes first.  

Knowledge wise Paper B has more sections and requires a lot more time and practice, particularly for critical review calculations. This combined with the Royal College’s advice of having 12 months’ experience in psychiatry before sitting the exam means that for most people, sitting Paper A first is the best choice. 

7. Use diagrams for more challenging topics 

Find or better still, create diagrams to better illustrate and explain the mor difficult to understand topics. Especially where you have little experience of a topic, it can be helpful to represent it visually. 

8. Keep difficult topics fresh in your mind 

If you need longer than 3 months to prepare for either exam, either leave the more difficult topics to the end of your revision or begin with them and be sure to revisit them at the end. You may not retain this information long-term, so it’s important to have it as fresh in your mind as possible when coming up to the exam. 

9. Take time off before the exam for intense study 

If you can, try to put some time aside in the week(s) coming up to the exam to for a final push of intense study before the exam. 

10. Practice is key 

Books are great resources for increasing your overall psychiatry knowledge, however they are not necessarily the best resources for the Paper A and Paper B exams. Question banks and past papers such as SPMM are very useful in preparing for the MRCPsych Paper A & B. 

Getting started

For access to a community of likeminded MRCPsych aspirants and dedicated psychiatry recruiters, join the IMG Psychiatrists Facebook group.  

For news and updates on all things psychiatry, including the Royal College, GMC registration and the NHS, follow us on social media and join the conversation. 


The postgraduate route to GMC registration, whilst not the fastest, can be the most rewarding in the long run. The MRCPsych exams are the central components of psychiatry training in the UK, and as an international psychiatrist, this is the route that allows you to most closely align your qualifications with the requirements of more senior jobs in the NHS. 


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