Achieving anything worthwhile in life generally boils down to your ability to master the one thing for that specific pursuit.
For example, eating clean is made 60 – 70% easier, I approximate, once you change your lifestyle and increase consumption of a wide variety of low-calorie nutrient-dense multi-coloured vegetables. If for simplicity’s sake we assign a 1 litre capacity to the human stomach, you should feel satiated regardless whether this litre is occupied by pastries or by a delicious combination of celery, mushrooms, bell peppers, kidney beans and kale.
It actually goes a lot deeper than this. Cravings for fatty foods arise when our bodies are telling us our diets lack specific nutrients e.g. magnesium. When we eat foods which are high in magnesium, like leafy greens, we can curb these cravings. The argument that only consuming vegetables and pulses isn’t satisfying is a myth.
What if I told you there was an equivalent one thing for MRCP?
Studying is difficult. I used to envy “bookworms” who could study 80 hours a week in medical school. That was until I realised they don’t really exist as everyone struggles with motivation and procrastination. The people I thought were bookworms were just highly motivated students of medicine and possessed superhuman motivation. Some people manage their human nature better than others. I realised that I was simply making excuses for my weakness in this area.
So what’s the one thing for MRCP?
The power of variety.
When you come home from a 9 – 5 shift, your last wish is to open books or attempt a set of practice questions. Even if you manage to overcome the initial motivation barrier (standing ovation, serious), after an hour or even less you feel like you need to get out of there!
One hour after work is an excellent achievement and I’m all for celebrating mini-successes. But we can’t deny that two hours is even better, if you can achieve this.
Instead of counting the minutes down and switching on Netflix, you should consider switching your topic or even method of studying every 45 minutes or so.
Why not practice questions for 30 minutes then follow this up with 1 hour of reading explanations and end the session with a 30 minute YouTube video on an entirely different specialty? For that one hour of reading you could dissect it even further by focusing on two separate specialties such as microbiology and gastroenterology. You are in charge.
This has the added advantage of keeping your revision fresh whilst maintaining momentum. The more you study, the more you realise how much you don’t know, and it’s this fear that makes you work harder. Keeping low effort activities (watching videos) towards the end is a particular element of focus as our motivation is ultimately finite.
They say variety is the spice of life and therefore I believe if you use it wisely you can at least double your output for all three MRCP exams.
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.