How to prepare for the MRCOG part 2 examination. Gemma Cass.

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How to pass the MRCOG 1st. time

List of contents.

  1. Introduction

  2. Ten top tips:

    1. preparation

    2. clear the diary

    3. support

    4. relaxation time

    5. materials

    6. courses

    7. practice essays

    8. the OSCE

    9. post-exam

    10. don't stress!


It can be a daunting feeling when you start thinking about sitting the exam.

I certainly felt like that.

Preparation, time and support are huge factors that help with success.

Lucy and Elaine's advice is fantastic so I'll try not to be too repetitive!


My top ten tips.



Start thinking about things 6 months in advance. 

This ensures you can apply in time as you need particular paperwork to prove you are eligible.

This relies on contacting old bosses to confirm you completed the relevant training.

The college website is really clear on the deadline for this so start looking as soon as possible!

Also book somewhere to stay the night before so you don't have any extra stress of worrying about getting there on time.


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Clear the diary. 

Before starting revision I think it's important to clear your schedule of other topics such as audit, projects etc.

It's hard enough working full time and then revising for this exam without having time to complete other things.

If it's not possible to complete things then politely tell the boss that you will carry on with them after the exam.

Also book your study leave in advance particularly if there are a few people sitting the exam in the same hospital.

I had almost two weeks of study leave before the exam.

I used this to practice and to focus on the exam.

I think it gets you mentally prepared without having to worry about work.

It is a hard exam that requires hard work and commitment.

So I don't think it's worth doing it if your heart is not in it and instead wait until a time when you can concentrate on it 100%.


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Try to time sitting the exam with other people.

This really helped me.

To know others are going through it at the same time helps to share the burden.

Getting together during or after work also makes revising more enjoyable and less lonely.

We used to meet in evenings and weekends and would each teach the others about a particular guideline we had prepared.

I found it much easier to remember things a friend told me than what I read alone in my study.

This is absolutely fundamental for the OSCE.

There is no book work needed for this, it's all about practice practice practice.

It means when it comes down to the stations you feel totally rehearsed and comfortable with an awkward situation.

Loved ones are a great support.

Talk to them about how you're doing, how you feel and what they can do to make things a little easier for you and make sure you thank them afterwards!


Finally Tom.  His website and podcasts were invaluable.

I used to listen to his podcasts on the way to work as I had an hour commute each way.

His teaching is amongst the best and he has not only helped me immensely in passing the exam but by making me a better doctor.


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Relaxation time.

This is so important to ensure you keep sane!

The revision goes on for what feels like a lifetime.

Make sure you plan in nice things for a time at the weekend or an evening a week throughout the revision time and stick to it.

It also reminds you of what you can look forward to when it's over.


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Try to keep this simple and look at the syllabus.

It's easy to get sucked into buying lots of textbooks and practice papers.

The purple book is a definite but otherwise browse through others and see what suits your learning style.

The green tops and other guidance on the college website go without saying but there are a lot of topics on the syllabus not covered, particularly gynae.

I think one other source is enough to do this whether it be a textbook or one of the online learning tools such as busy spr which is what I used.

TOG online is great and I skimmed through the last 5 years as the articles are excellent topics for essays and they have come up over the last few years.

I just read the ones I didn't know anything about but the others are great for revising stuff you might have done a few weeks ago.

CEMACH, NICE and FSRH are also vital.

STRATOG is also excellent and written by the college and provides you with practice questions.

It covers everything on the syllabus.

I didn't make notes but summarised each guideline or topic on a side of A5 in a notebook.

This was great to remember key points and is what I took to London with me the night before.

It was also good to look back on for the OSCE rather than being faced with reams of guidelines again.


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Courses are good to do nearer the time of the exam.

I did the Teale Fenning essay and OSCE course which were fantastic.

They provide you with the opportunity to do focused practice with feedback and are invaluable at giving you tips for technique that you can apply to any situation.

Tom's podcasts are fantastic and so easy to access and listen to in spare time, driving etc and are a fresh approach to learning.

I also did a local OSCE course at Southmead Hospital in Bristol which was great, so I encourage you to take up or set up local opportunities.


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Practice essays.

I think this is the most important point.

2 weeks before the exam I stopped revising and did essay plan after essay plan under timed circumstances and practiced MCQs and EMQs.

This allows me to find gaps in my knowledge and re explore topics that I was a bit sparse on.

Also try and plan four essays on one piece of A4 as this is all you get in the exam and then you are less stressed when faced with it.

I did some timed essays but mainly lots of plans.

I gave myself 8 minutes to plan each essay almost to the point where you know exactly what you are going to write.

Then time yourself writing it up on only 2 sides of A4.

You will get to know how long it physically takes you to write and therefore how much of the 22 minutes you can use for vital planning.

I think the key to a succinct essay is planning so don't scrimp on that time.

Also always remember your senior doctor thinking - eg how can you squeeze in key words - MDT, audit, clinical governance.

And be paranoid.

I don't know about you but when I take over labour ward I look at every woman and story on the board and think "what's the worst that can happen?".

It makes me totally paranoid and tachycardic but I think it keeps things safe.

The exam is clinical and aims to ensure you are a safe registrar so show this.

Talk about what could be the worst case scenario and how you would deal with this.

Then talk about the most common or benign cause.

Don't list investigations you would do and questions you would ask.

Instead, write a statement saying how each investigation or question helps in the diagnosis or impacts on treatment.


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This is much better than the written exam.

I didn't do a lot between the written and waiting for results, but this means you have a little less time after you find out.

I think that break does you good though.

There is little book work to do for this as you should know it already.

I re-read my one page summaries of the guidelines and Tom's documents on things like diathermy which were great.

Otherwise it's all about practice.

Pick a good course - the Teale Fenning one is in small groups and you get personal feedback which is excellent.

A local course run by Southmead Hospital in Bristol was also excellent and gave very individual feedback.

I think it was also good to practice in front of your bosses as you always feel more awkward but the more you do the more you feel comfortable on the day.

We met as a group a couple of times a week to practice stations and you learn lots from listening to other people explain things and pick up and use phrases you like.

I also subjected my poor husband who isn't medical to many consultations which meant he picked me up when I wasn't explaining things clearly or used too much jargon.

Tom's introduction for the stations is great and when attending other courses I got positive feedback about this technique.

Some marks are awarded by the actresses so be smart, nice and smile.

Remember they are talking to you about very private things so they want you to be human and approachable.

Listen a lot and never interrupt them.

If you give them long enough then they will give you all the answers.

Also don't forget to prepare for things such as the busy labour ward, gynae operating list, critiquing a paper, information leaflet or a guideline and know CTG interpretation inside out.


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It's an odd feeling of relief after the written but still a long time to wait for the results.

I think it's important to plan something nice with a break away in those first few weeks to realise how lovely life is again!

Unfortunately it was my husband's 30th birthday on the day of the exam so I had a lot of making up to do!   


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Don't stress.

Much easier said than done.

If you have a bad essay then forget it and move on.

Same goes for the OSCE stations.

You don't have to pass each one and you will pick up marks along the way even if you don't know anything about the topic.

I thought I had failed both parts and walked out of the written straight into the bathroom in tears!

You always remember the bits you couldn't answer or didn't know so don't focus on them too much.

Walk away from the college with your head held high knowing you've done your best and head straight for the pub! 


Finally work hard and you will be fine.

It is a hard exam but the feeling of when you've passed is indescribable.

I was fast asleep post nights and awoken by a good friend who told me the news and subsequently burst into tears.

I think my husband was almost more pleased than me when I told him as he realised I didn't have to revise again and life could resume!

The graduation day is very special so keep that thought in your mind when you're in the depth of revision.

It is worth it.

I would like to thank Tom, all those at Teale Fenning, those who ran the Southmead OSCE course and my Consultants in my local hospital for their kind support.

I also owe so much to my family and friends with whom I sat the exam as I couldn't have done it without them. 



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