How to Approach the MRCGP
With the MRCGP due to change in 2007, there has been an increasing uptake of the current MRCGP - reflected by a rise in applications from Registrars and SHOs. There is a need for high quality MRCGP preparation courses to accommodate the increasing demand, but the rule to success in the exam will inevitably lie with one's own preparation. Dr Nigel Giam looks at some practical tips to consider in your preparation:
1. Download the MRCGP regulations from the RCGP website ( www.rcgp.org.uk ) early on in your Registrar year
The regulations contain examples of past paper questions for Paper 1 and 2 with examiner insight as to what is being looked for in an answer.
2. Past Paper 1 Questions
It is important to start practising questions early on. Download the past paper 1 questions - try them out and utilise the examiner feedback. Skills such as critical appraisal cannot be crammed for. In addition the exam is long - 3.5 hours! As your year progresses start practising under timed conditions. Use a rule of 12's:
12 questions, 12 mins per question, 12 mins to read any accompanying material
Read up on Critical Appraisal: Dr. Tricia Greenhalgh has a series of articles on 'How to Read a Paper' that can be freely accessed through the BMJ website ( www.bmj.com ). Critical appraisal strongly differentiates between average and above par candidates.
Problem Solving: examiners are moving away from the simple questions that test your ability to identify issues surrounding a problem-solving scenario. More recently there have been questions that look for justified management decision-making. Be aware that issues pertinent to the question should be identified but should ultimately relate to the management proposed.
Hot Topics: candidates fear hot topics. But why? This section makes up 2 questions at most and at least one Hot Topic can always be predicted. To spot what is hot look at NICE Guidance and DTB/BMJ Themed Issues that have been published the year before. In Oct 2005 - COPD came up - predictable as NICE Guidance was published in June 2004. Utilise these free resources before rushing out to but any books - inevitably any Hot Topic Book you buy now will be out of date by the time the exam comes around.
Try to work together in a Study Group - the range of opinions will help to generate model answers and will allow comprehensive coverage of Hot Topics.