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The Quesmed Complete Guide to MRCP Part 1

So you want to start your MRCP diploma journey but aren't quite sure where to start? Continue reading for a full guide on everything you need to know about MRCP Part 1, the first of three exams that need to be passed in order to achieve the MRCP diploma.

What is the MRCP Part 1?

MRCP Part 1 is a written exam taken by doctors who have completed a minimum of 12 months of postgraduate medical experience. This includes both UK-trained doctors and international medical graduates (IMGs).

The purpose of MRCP Part 1 is to evaluate a candidate’s understanding and knowledge of common and important disorders, as well as clinical sciences relevant to medical practice at a level appropriate for entry to specialist training.

Who undertakes the MRCP Diploma?

MRCP Part 1 is the first exam on the journey towards the MRCP (UK) Diploma.

You must have at least 12 months of postgraduate medical experience before applying to sit the exam, which usually means waiting until completion of FY1 in the UK before applying.

The MRCP Diploma is a post-graduate diploma designed to test the skills, knowledge, and behaviours of a doctor who wishes to undergo medical speciality training in the United Kingdom.

Many doctors - within the UK and abroad - undertake the MRCP diploma even if it is not a training requirement in order to provide additional value to their portfolio, but also to develop their skills and knowledge further.

In order to achieve this qualification, you have to sit and successfully pass three exams:

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    MRCP Part 1

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    MRCP Part 2 Written

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    MRCP Part 2 Clinical , also known as PACES

Any doctor who wishes to start specialist registrar training in the UK within a physician or medical training programme must have completed all parts of the MRCP diploma in order to enter the relevant specialist training. The specialities where MRCP is a requirement are reproduced below:

Exam Format - MRCP Part 1

The MRCP Part 1 examination is designed to test the doctor’s knowledge of clinical science as relevant to their medical practice. The aim is to ensure the candidate understands common and important disorders that they may come across during their specialist training, at an entry level.

The exam is currently completed electronically and is comprised of two papers, each with 100 questions in a best of five format, where one answer will be the single best answer.

There is no negative marking, and each correct answer is awarded a single mark. If taken in the UK, you will sit the exam at home and will be monitored remotely whilst doing so; if taken internationally, the exam will be sat at a test centre.

What is the style of MRCP Part 1 Questions?

In the MRCP Part 1 exam, the questions are usually single-step logic with succinct stems; the focus of the question is usually on immediate next steps or basic sciences. This is as opposed to the two-step logic with more complex clinical reasoning and longer stems where more information is provided for the candidate to integrate and synthesise in order to come to a conclusion; this is the type of question you will encounter in the MRCP Part 2 written exam.

Therefore, the questions tend to ask one of a handful of things:

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    What is the most likely diagnosis?

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    What is the next step in management?

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    What is the best or next treatment?

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    What is the best investigation?

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    Or some basic sciences question, such as drug mechanism of action or mode of inheritance

There will always be 5 options, and one option will be the best answer, though the other 4 options will often be a close match and possibilities, hence single best answer.

Here are some example exam questions to help you understand the format a bit better!

In the question below, you can see the question mainly asking about the most appropriate treatment for ESBL. This question is testing the candidate’s understanding of clinical microbiology and drug resistance.

This next question illustrates how a question that wants to test core sciences principles, such as genetics, may be phrased. Here, through the past medical history and background, the candidate is expected to determine the underlying diagnosis as MODY3, and use this to answer the question about the gene that is most likely affected. The logic in this question is more two-step, and as such this may be considered a more difficult question, however the core of the question remains basic sciences and has less of a clinical focus, making it more similar to what may be encountered during the MRCP Part 1 exam.

Finally, the question below is an example of a question aiming to test a candidate’s ability to put together limited clinical information to come to a reasonable best diagnosis.

At Quesmed we have worked closely with the best physicians who have taken and successfully passed the MRCP exams in order to develop over 4500 questions as part of our MRCP Part 1 Question Bank that are based on themes from previous papers. What Specialties are covered in MRCP Part 1?

The subject of the questions is based on a careful blueprint designed to ensure that an appropriate range of medical knowledge is tested. Therefore, each speciality or subject area being tested is given a rough proportion of the total number of questions available across both papers, as displayed in this table. For example, across both papers, one would expect to answer approximately 14 questions on Cardiology, and 8 questions on Geriatric Medicine.

MRCP Part 1 Exam dates and Fees

Plan ahead as there are only fixed dates when you can sit the exam, published by the Royal College of Physicians. Application deadlines are usually several months in advance of the exam itself, so it is imperative to check ahead of time so you do not miss out on your desired date.

You should check the current fees directly on the RCP website as it may be subject to change.

Results and unsuccessful attempts Results are published online, 1-2 months after completing the exam. The results release dates are available on the Royal College of Physicians website, so you have an idea of when to expect to hear if your attempt has been successful or not.

The pass mark for the MRCP Part 1 examination is 540. Most candidates will score between 200-800; the minimum score is 0, and the maximum score is 999. This score is scaled, such that it is calculated by taking into consideration not only the number of questions the candidate has correctly answered, but also the relative difficulty of the question and the exam.

Once MRCP Part 1 has been passed, the candidate then has 7 years to complete the remaining sections of the MRCP Diploma - MRCP Part 2 written, and MRCP Part 2 PACES.

If unsuccessful, candidates are permitted a maximum number of 6 attempts. If the exam has not been passed after 6 attempts, then the candidate will need to be supported in additional training with appropriate evidence before further attempts are allowed.

How to prepare

Everyone prepares differently, and there is no single right or wrong answer, but here are some tips that may help you as you plan your revision strategy!

At Quesmed, we have worked closely with expert physicians to develop over 4700 Questions as part of our MRCP Part 1 Question Bank! These are based on themes and topics that have appeared in previous exams.

Alongside our questions, we have generated a dedicated reference textbook that you have access to as part of your subscription. This textbook covers all the key topics that you will need to know about prior to sitting your MRCP exams, and has been developed carefully with the MRCP blueprint in mind.

Here are some useful tips to get you started with your revision:

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    Start early.

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      Don’t underestimate the depth and breadth of topics covered in this exam. Starting well in advance gives you a buffer for unexpected hurdles.

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    Plan your revision.

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      Set timelines and goals.

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      Be aware of the range of topics covered by the exam as discussed above, and ensure your revision strategy covers these specialities

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    Do as many practice questions as possible

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      Practice questions should be the core of your revision, especially questions that cover previous exam themes

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      Take time to read detailed explanations on why your answer is correct or incorrect to further guide your revision and fill in any gaps

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    Diversify your study materials.

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      Don’t rely on one single resource

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      Obtain a good reference textbook or get access to a detailed online knowledge library to synthesise your revision notes

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    Take mock tests

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      Taking tests in timed conditions can help you replicate the exam experience and get used to the time pressures you may face in the exam

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    Use official resources where available.

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      The Royal College of Physicians publish sample questions on their website.

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      These are a great way of getting used to the types of questions asked and can also be used as mock tests.

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    Study groups and flash cards.

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      Join or create a study group!

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      Discussing topics and testing each other can provide different perspectives and help in clarifying doubts.

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      Flash cards can be an invaluable resource to allow you to test yourself on key topics quickly.

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    Breaks and Health

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      Remember to take regular breaks and maintain your health.

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      This is a marathon, not a sprint. We normally recommend 3-6 months of target revision, depending on your clinical commitments.


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