Go on a Part 3 course.

Home Page MRCOG page How to pass the MRCOG first time

List of contents.

  1. introduction
  2. general points: location and timing
  3. should I go on a course?
  4. RCOG courses in London and elsewhere.
  5. where should I stay in London if I book an RCOG course?
  6. what do courses offer and what are their limitations?
  7. which courses should I consider?
  8. does the NW course offer anything different?
  9. how many courses should I go on?
  10. how do I get the skills that courses don't teach?
  11. how do I practise the skills necessary for the exam?




This was about the OSCE exam and I have updated it.

There is some repetition - I will try to find time to tidy things.

External links keep changing - the RCOG being particularly notorious for it.

If you find any lnks that do not work, please let me inow.

You pass the written and know that most people pass the Part 3.

PANIC! PANIC! - You don't want to be the one who fails the "easy" part of the exam.

But good candidates sometimes fail the Part 3.

This is usually due to lack of technique.

Of course, you need a lot of knowledge, but passing the  Part 2 proves that you have it.

Make sure you keep it up-to-date - it is depressing how quickly your Part mountain of knowledge atrophies.

My experience is that the best way to keep hold of knowledge is to teach - ideally Part 2 candidates, who will keep you on your toes.

Then what you need is to add is Part 3 technique.



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General points

Location: Look first at the courses nearest to your home - you might be able to stay at home and reduce costs


Timing: Ideally you should leave enough time between the course and the exam to allow you to remedy any weaknesses identified on the course.

             We plan the NW course about a month before the exam for this reason.

             The main problem is for non-UK trainees as this may mean two trips to the UK.


Content: The course should give you exposure to at least one full circuit, with you 'active' at all the stations.

               You should also get feedback that lets you identify your weaknesses.

                I usually do an all-day tutorial on the day after the The NW course to discuss stations in detail - this is discussed here.



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Should I go on a course?

I think you should go on a course if you have not done an OSCE-style exam before.

It is so different to other types of exam that you don't want to experience it for the first time on the day of the exam.

And there are techniques you need to learn like:

time management,

spending a few minutes preparing your thoughts before starting the station

particularly noting what you have been asked to do,

and deciding whch domains are going to feature in the socring system and how to maximise your marks,

good communication skills,

handling a viva - now called structured discussion,

dealing with specific stations like a labour ward scenario, an obstetric emergency etc.,

emptying your head after each station so that you are not wasting time thinking about how you might have given a better answer


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RCOG courses in London and elsewhere.

The RCOG runs courses in London.

They are regarded as very good.

I used to teach on them before I became very ancient and can vouch for their quality.

Nowadays the College takes its courses to other countries.

I think this is great.

Coming to the UK and paying for accommodation can cost a small fortune.

Add the cost of the course and you are paying a great deal.

If you can find an RCOG nearer home, it will be a lot more convenient and cheaper.

But of identical quality to the ones that are run at the College itself.

You can find the courses on the RCOG website.

The London ones are very popular, so you need to be quick to book on one.

They tend to be fully booked within a few hours of the results of the written being published.

A deficiency with all the courses has been that they are very good at giving experience of what a circuit is like, but no good for teaching you how to correct errors and do things better.

The RCOG has now set up a course that focuses on technique - MRCOG Final Preparation: Part 3 Practical Course.

This course has the disadvantage of candidates going round the practice circuit in pairs.

It is also incorporating some coaching into its other courses, but I don't have details.

Send me feedback about any course you go on.


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Where should I stay in London if I book a course at the RCOG?

A lot of trainees have stayed at the YMCA Indian Student Hostel.


Although it has Indian and Christian in its title, it is used by all nationalities and religious groups.


The feedback I get is that it is basic but clean and reasonably priced.


It is within walking distance of the RCOG.


A benefit is that if you stay there you are likely to meet with other exam candidates.

Check its website: http://www.indianymca.org/.

You can stay at the RCOG, but the accommodation is expensive and limited.


Travelodge hotels are a bit less basic than the YMCA, but more expensive.


The nearest is the London Central Marylebone Hotel.


It is about a mile  from the RCOG.


There are lots of other hotels.


You can locate them by using one of the internet companies such as Booking.com.


It lets you search by area, but does not recognise the RCOG.


Put in Baker Street and it will come up with a load of hotels near the College.





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What do courses offer and what are their limitations?

This is really important.

There is a notion that courses are the comprehensive answer to preparing for the Part 3.

All you can expect them to do is give you the experience of doing an OSCE circuit.

And an appreciation of the techniques you need to pass.

But they do not teach technique.

They simply do not have time.

You do the circuit and at the end of each station the examiner says a few words.

In the tutorials we spend hours practising simple things like introducing ourselves.

You could not expect a course to replicate this - there is not the time.

You need to find another way to get the techniques.

And then you need to practise them over and over.


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Which courses should I consider?

I think all the courses will give you similar benefits.

Be realistic about what courses can offer.

One thing to look out for are courses in which you go round the circuit in pairs.

At half the stations you are "active" and perform like a candidate.

At the other stations you are just an observer.

This might be OK if you are partnered with a potential gold medallist and can see brilliant technique.

But it is more likely that you will be observing someone who is no better than you and you are mostly wasting your time.

I suspect that these courses are just adding people to get more money.

I would be reluctant to pay to go on such a course if I had no experience of OSCE-style exams - I would want to practise a full circuit just like the exam.

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Does the NW course offer anything different?

The NW course is different to most others.

First of all, it is usually cheaper - Lamiya Mohiyiddeen, who runs it, is not interested in using it to make money.

She charges just enough to cover the costs of running it.

A unique feature is that I usually run a tutorial the next day to deal with the stations that proved difficult.

The course is usually on a Saturday and we spend from 10.30 until about 16.00 on the Sunday in the tutorial.

I think this is the ideal package.

Do the circuit to see what it is like and learn the types of stations that you need to work on.

Then discuss and practise appropriate techniques the next day.

I don't charge for the tutorial, so it is like a 2-day course at a fraction of the price of other 2-day courses.

And the opportunity to learn and improve techniques, which most other courses do not have time to give.

I should add that I am biased.

I help Lamiya to run the course and usually attend as an examiner.

There is information here about the date of the course and how to apply.


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How many courses should I go on?

There is a tendency to go on as many courses as you can afford.


I think this is a waste of money and may even be a disadvantage.


You are not likely to learn anything new after a couple of courses.


And there is a downside in that every circuit will have a station at which you do badly.


One course = 1 bad station.


Two courses  = 2 bad stations ..


Go on 5 courses and you have 5 bad stations and begin to think you are no good!

My advice is one course, two at the most.

As you are not being taught technique, I can't see what you gain by going on multiple courses.

And they are very expensive.


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How do I acquire the skills that courses do not teach?

Listen to the tutorials / podcasts.

Follow the advice on the website.

Read the advice from the RCOG.

There are also Part 3 books with advice.

The RCOG recommends: Part 3 MRCOG Your Essential Guide. Lisa Joels and Edmund Neale.

YouTube probably has useful tutorials, but I have not checked them out and so do not know.

Then practise as much as you can:

a: with a study buddy so you can work out best technique, blocks of text to explain things etc.,

b. with a non-medic who acn tell you when you are using medical jargon and not explaining things clearly.

You already know most of what you need.

Get a tutorial from an anaesthetist about adult resuscitation.

Similarly, get a tutorial from a paediatrician about neonatal resuscitation.

Get the theatre sister to show you all the basic instruments including hysteroscopes and cystoscopes.

Get her to show you the diathermy machine and explain how it works.

If you have not seen colposcopy / hysteroscopy, attend a couple of sessions.

Practise tying knots in case you have a station in which you have to teach a junior.

There are books that give examples and they are helpful.

But I haven't found one that really deals with all the techniques.

Technique 1 is how to cope with a Part 3 circuit.

The best way to learn is by going on a course that provides at least one exam-style circuit.

The key things are basics:

time management,

forgetting what you said or did not say at a station as soon as it is over: concentrate on the station you are at,

taking time at the start of each station to read the information about the station carefully,

being clear about exactly what you have been asked to do - there are no marks for anything else,

taking time at the start of each station to write a plan for the station,

Technique 2 includes all the techniques for the different types of station.

How can you learn them?

We are back to the tutorials and the advice on the website.

Make sure you polish your communication skills.

Get a friend or relative to act as roleplayer.

Practise your introduction, explanation of recessive inheritance, breaking bad news etc.

Get someone to act as an examiner and practise vivas.

It is very hard to talk for 15 minutes with an examiner showing no response.

Start practising so that you are not learning how to do it on the big day.

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How do I practise the skills necessary for the exam?

The ones you need to practise most are the communication skills.

Both role-play and viva.

You need someone to practise with.

Possibly the best will be another exam candidate - they will be as motivated as you to put in the time.

But a non-medical person is very useful as they can pull you up on the use of medical jargon.

And tell you when your explanations do not make sense.

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