Preparing for Royal College Exams - a guide for IMGs
It can be quite difficult to juggle the demands of everyday life such as clinical work and family commitments with preparing for the Royal College exams. This is particularly the case for IMGs who may be completing these exams alongside training and exams in their own country.
In this blog, we will share some great tips we’ve recommended by overseas doctors we’ve worked through after passing their UK postgraduate exams.
1. Plan ahead
It is important to set feasible targets when taking on postgraduate study, so carefully consider your personal circumstances and set a goal for when you are going to take the examinations.
You should try to avoid any major life events at the time of the events e.g. weddings, moving house etc.
2. Use the curriculum
The blueprint for the Royal College exams is the curriculum used in the training programme for each specialty, and we always recommend this as the best place to start.
UK trainees will be familiar with this as part of their training and continued assessment, so international doctors should familiarise themselves with the curriculum and any syllabus as soon as possible.
Curriculum for MRCP, MRCEM, MRCPsych, FRCPath, FRCR, FRCR (Oncology), MRCPCH, MRCOG and MRCS.
3. Familiarise yourself with the exam structure and format
It is important to know exactly what you can expect from the exam, such as whether the exam will be remote or what different topics the exam comprises. This will help you to create a structures and comprehensive plan as you begin your revision.
You can find a detailed overview of the Royal College exams in our IMG Resources library.
4. Create your own study programme
Create a manageable and realistic study plan based on the time you have until the exam. Be sure to build in suitable breaks and time off to allow you to proceed with your study at a steady pace.
Think about your personal learning style and use this to plan effective revision.
5. Find the best study materials to suit your needs
There are many online resources available from commercial courses to question banks and notes, which daunting for IMGs. We recommend looking at what seems to be most popular among other IMGs, such as the Bromley courses for MRCEM, SPMM mock exams and notes for MRCPsych or Pathology Online Hub courses for FRCPath Histopathology.
Where there is a large cost associated with the resources, perhaps you can see if any colleagues would like to split the expense or has copies they can lend to you.
Also, don’t be afraid to tailor these resources to suit your study needs – make notes or mind maps to aid learning and revision.
6. Build on your existing knowledge base and experience
You will likely be familiar with many of the concepts in the exam from your own clinical experience – take advantage of this is your study. Use your knowledge and experience from your own country and training as the foundation for your revision.
7. Try to maintain a balance between work and personal life
As much as possible, try not to overload yourself with study and make time for study breaks where you can focus on your personal life and having some downtime.
8. Practise, practise, practise...in the expected exam format
Crucially, you must practice exam-style questions as much as possible within the time you have. This not only helps you to understand where you have any deficits in your knowledge, but also shows you what to expect in the types of questions asked and how they may be phrased. It is also important to reinforce memory by revising and by practising recall.
For clinical exams such as an OSCE or CASC, you should practise these with others and observe others practising too in order to obtain feedback.
9. Join a community of like-minded doctors
Belonging to a study group may help you reduce your workload of finding information and enable you to share experience and provide support to each other. Study groups also aid reflection on progress.
IMG Connect host two fantastic Facebook groups for overseas psychiatry and pathology doctors where we share guidance, resources and study courses. You can join our communities here: IMG Psychiatrists and IMG Histopathologists.
We hope you find these tips helpful and wish you the best of luck with your exams. Don't forget to share your successes with us on social media using the hashtag #imgstories
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