Exam technique for the MRCOG Part 2 can subdivided into preparation and execution. By the time you sit the exam itself, you will already have done an enormous amount of preparation and revision – now you have to apply it in a high-pressured situation.
Preparation for the exam involves applying the same degree of organization that you have already applied to your revision. Make sure you know the time, date and location of your exam. Swap your on call shifts and book study leave for this date early and ideally plan to have time off just prior to this so you can focus properly. Print your candidate entry form and get your identification documents ready in good time.
Arrive in plenty of time – if you live far away, book some accommodation locally and stay over the night before. Get a good nights sleep and do not be tempted to cram until the early hours on the night before. Whilst your study buddy may have been invaluable whilst revising, it is easy to get panicked by comparing knowledge immediately before the exam so try and avoid talking too much on the night and morning before the exam.
The exam format is two written papers, one in the morning and one in the afternoon separated by a 60 minute lunch break. Each is 180 minutes or three hours long and contains 50 Single Best Answer (SBAs) questions and 50 Extended Matching Questions (EMQs). The SBA questions are worth 40% of the marks while the EMQ questions are worth 60% of the marks. The RCOG therefore recommends spending 70 minutes on the SBA questions and 110 minutes on the EMQ questions.
Keep a close eye on the clock and do not run out of time. The timing suggested by the college allows approximately 1.4 minutes per SBA question and 2.2 minutes per EMQ question. Remember that SBAs are not only worth relatively less marks than EMQs but they are often a little easier as there are fewer answer options to read so make sure you get through those more quickly. Everyone approaches an exam paper differently but one suggested technique is as follows.
Start the paper at the beginning and work through the questions systematically one by one. Some questions will be easy because you will know the answer immediately and therefore will take seconds to answer. Others will be hard because of knowledge gaps or because they are meant to be hard and to make you think. If the question is easy, quickly answer and move on. If it is hard, circle the question and move on the next one. At the end of all the questions, return to the beginning and answer the hard questions, spending more time on these. Once you have answered all the questions, read through the questions once more and make sure you are satisfied with your answer. If in doubt between two options, go with your gut instinct first answer. Now transfer them to the electronic answer marking sheet with the pencils provided, taking care to transfer your answers accurately.
If you finish the paper early, you can either continue to check your answers or leave the exam early. In the lunch-break between the papers, make sure to have something to eat as it is a long stressful day and you will need the energy. If you prefer to spend time alone between papers, find a quiet space and try to relax and focus on the next paper. If you prefer to talk to your colleagues, avoid comparing answers as you will only remember the questions you got wrong and it will stop you from focusing on the next paper. Remember that the first paper is finished and do not panic, even if you think it went badly. Focus on the next paper where you have the opportunity to improve your mark!
When you have finished, call family or friends to let them know how it went. By all means, compare notes with fellow candidates but do not post mortem. Remember that you will only remember the questions that you found difficult and the ones that you discover you got wrong. Candidates who leave the exam thinking they have got everything right generally lack insight into their own performance! Enjoy having your life back and make sure you plan something nice to celebrate the end of the exam. Results day is always an anxious time – the results are no longer posted on the RCOG website so friends and colleagues may ask you how you did. If this would be very stressful for you, consider booking a day of annual leave on results day. If you are unsuccessful and have not passed, consider nominating a friend to let people know that your result and if you don’t wish to discuss it publically. For those of you who have succeeded in passing, well done – enjoy the feeling and now start preparing for Part 3!Previous: How to Pass MRCOG Part 2 – Revision Next: How to Pass MRCOG Part 2 – Common Pitfalls