Today’s short post has been inspired by an equation that was introduced to most of us in our high school physics class. Remember Newton’s Second Law stated that Force equates to the mass of an object multiplied by its acceleration?
F = ma
The same concept applies when we’re studying for the MRCP exams, except that MASS substitutes the amount of revision you’re carrying out. ACCELERATION is equivalent to the quality or the effectiveness of that revision, and FORCE simply translates into your likelihood of passing.
Although your likelihood of passing MRCP will never be 100%, you can leverage your work to “multiply” your chances of success. To explain this more clearly, there is little point focusing on the efficiency of your revision when you don’t put in the basic required number of hours. Similarly, solely working hard isn’t enough if your revision isn’t focused – you can still work hard but not absorb any information.
In the written exams, for example, instead of completing practice question one after another mindlessly, try and set a specific amount of time. If you have 2 hours for revision tonight, state that you’ll spend 40 minutes on questions, and you’ll tackle a definite number e.g. 18.
Next, ignore the results – even if you score 2/18 the results don’t matter and count for zilch at present. As long as you’re putting in some form of work (i.e. mass), you’ll increase your chances of success (i.e. force).
Next couple this with effective studying which in our case means balancing your practice questions with reading explanations. I found this the most difficult part when I was studying for MRCP but you can improve your focus with high quality coffee (my favourite, but you’ll need this) and regularly returning to the original question stem. Spend an hour on reading, for example.
Your last twenty minutes should be used to watch a focused video on a difficult concept. For instance, if you struggle with statistics, watch a 10-minute Youtube “student t-test” video, and this can obviously be applied to any topic. Studying for MRCP has never been easier now that we have countless videos and websites.
When you master this concept of variety, what you’ll find is that not only are you putting in the volume (2 hours of studying after an acute medical shift isn’t easy!), you’re also being effective as that volume isn’t wasted. Working hard can easily be wasted when you’re not absorbing the material. Mindlessly practising questions or daydreaming whilst reading long paragraphs are two examples.
Ultimately, just start now – pick a reputable question bank and just work through five questions. Ignore the result – read why you were wrong, rinse and repeat. MRCP may seem like a mammoth exam but they’re not looking for perfection. Especially in a day and age where everything can be googled.
If you enjoyed this article make sure you get your own copy of my MRCP Part 1 & 2 Written Guide. In this guide, I explore the above and other concepts such as time allocation and the most preferable resources for the written exams in much more detail.
Alternatively, if you’ve passed the written exams then How to Pass MRCP PACES in 8 Weeks will take you through your next and final hurdle. The reason an entire new guide has been written about this mammoth clinical exam reflects the different skills and attitude you need when tackling MRCP PACES. Instead of simply relying on reading textbooks, you’ll need to utilise a concept called the PACES Triangle to successfully navigate the examiners’ obstacles.