Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. – Confucius
1. EXTENDED MATCHING QUESTIONS (EMQ)
Focus your reading on curriculum themes and note down the key buzz words (short sucking words and sentences). You will need rapid recall for the exam. Hence focus on creating a mind-map with buzz words and link them to clinical experiences or strengthen associations through group practice. E.g.,
E.g., for Mirtazapine the key buzz words include Alpha 2 antagonist, 5HT2A and 5HT2C antagonist, Alpha 2 auto receptor antagonist. These buzz words will then lead you onto other links. E.g., Which other antidepressant involves the 5HT2C receptor? Which medication is an Alpha 2 agonist and is used in ADHD?
Below is an example of a mind-map with buzz words.
Click here to see a video on Techniques to pass the EMQ and CAP RANZCP Exams.
2. CRITICAL ANALYSIS PROBLEMS
For Critical Analysis Problems, you have to start backward. Start reading research papers; if there are terms you don’t understand, go back to your textbook and read up on them. You can read more about preparation for the Critical Analysis Problems here.
Start presenting at journal clubs. This constitutes deliberate practice which is known to be one of the most effective ways of enhancing performance. To assist you with journal club discussions, download the critical-appraisal-worksheets from the Hub. Use these sheets to dissect various types of research papers.
3. MODIFIED ESSAY QUESTIONS (MEQ)
The MEQ section is not an easy component to pass. MEQ tests the gap between theory and practice. It is this gap that is bridged when you become a consultant and make real-life decisions on a daily basis sometimes with limited resources.
The better decision maker has at his/her disposal repertoires of possible actions; checklists of things to think about before he acts; and he has mechanisms in his mind to evoke these, and bring these to his conscious attention when the situations for decisions arise.
– Herbert Simon
MEQ preparation requires bringing to the fore your real world experience which is why the college recommends taking this component of the exam only after you have had sufficient experience. MEQ requires developing a structure for management and prioritising your plan. It requires an understanding of roles and responsibilities of your multidisciplinary team and your ability to mobilise resources to achieve a particular goal.
For preparation, make a list of basic principles for management of common problems encountered in psychiatry. E.g., Young adult with ADD and substance misuse, common problems encountered in clozapine administration, behavioural disturbance in intellectual disability, etc. Discuss these in your supervision sessions. Pay close to attention to consultant discussions in case reviews or clinical governance meetings.
A previous Psych Scene Course candidate describes what it takes to pass the MEQ component.
I wanted to let you know that I passed the written essay exam first time round. I got 96.8% on the CEQ and in the 80%s on the MEQ. Your course and the resources you provided helped immensely with the MEQ. I had done another prep course which did not hit the mark at all in comparison.
My MEQ strategy:
I felt that the MEQ questions were pretty much all ones that I had seen before but amended to a consultant standard. I read through all the college feedback online and turned the feedback into questions to practice, even for the exam questions that were in other formats such as KFC and SAQ. This was invaluable as there were definitely many questions recycled from these but changed in format. Further, it got me thinking from the perspective of the college.
Secondly, TIME was an absolutely crucial issue, particularly for people with English as a second language, I imagine, as the questions were long and required THOUGHT, rather than blind regurgitation. I focused on writing the key points that were highly specific to the questions. I never wrote generic phrases such as “establish rapport”. I focused on breadth rather than depth and answered ALL questions, but actually wrote very little, focusing on being completely relevant to the question and grasping it’s deeper meanings/ requirements.
Thirdly, the familiarity and easy understanding of the MEQs surprised me. It was also easier than I had thought to determine what was being asked. The Auckland mock questions are much more vague and difficult to interpret than the actual exam questions were. Further, I expected more complex and difficult scenarios for the new standard, but found that the questions and scenarios were the same as with the previous standard. They were not complex, but just required more thoughtful answers with multiple perspectives beyond that of a registrar. The college website feedback; consultants who are on the examinations committee (in personal communication); and your course, have all stressed this repeatedly, and I think it’s a worthwhile message to continue to drum into candidates.
I wonder if having a generic structure to answer questions, whilst comforting, actually impedes necessary reflectiveness under the exam pressure. It led me, in my practices, to become too rigid and to forget to target my answers to the question… – Dr. Amanda
View this and this video to understand the mental models required to pass the MEQ component.
4. CRITICAL ESSAY WRITING (CEQ)
Critical Essay requires the ability to articulate your thoughts and put it down on paper in 40 minutes. You will need to consider the issues in front of you within a broader concept. There are only a few ways of drawing on broad perspectives – read widely, watch a range of educational programs, or have a group of people from outside a medical circle.
Needless to say, this means that either one is equipped with these ‘assets’ early on OR if not, 3-6 months is a short time to start building these ‘assets’. Hence preparation for the Critical Essay should begin from year 1. Read and observe widely; link your observations to psychiatry and build on your insights. A start would be reading Psychscenehub.com and editorial sections of the major journals. If there is another tip I would give, it would be to watch Q and A on ABC every Monday and reflect on how various aspects discussed apply to psychiatry.
Here is a post on ‘How to avoid the most common essay writing mistakes.’
Hope this fires you up to get started. Remember the long term goal- to become a competent clinician. The time invested in preparation pays off. A great return on effort!
Well, tests ain’t fair. Those that study have an unfair advantage. It’s always been that way.
The Hub is a platform to share ideas, cases and concepts that bridge the gap between academia and the real world. Think about it as the real world textbook, a platform rich with experiences. Many fields including medicine and psychiatry suffer from ‘closet’ ideas. Many brilliant solutions, the so called tacit knowledge, is embedded in the brains of people that do not have the platform to express them or at least reach a wider audience. The Hub is a device to unlock this knowledge and share it with the wider world. The Hub gives you an opportunity to make a difference.