So I am a try-hard long distance runner.  I have finished three 1/2 Marathons and have even managed a full one – and didn’t even like running until my late 30s.  This year’s challenge is the Melbourne 1/2 Marathon, which ends running into the MCG.  I was inspired by this mantra about running long distance:

Running is 1/3 physical, 1/3 personality, 1/3 perseverance.”

I CHALLENGE YOU TO FIND AN EXAM MANTRA!evenifyoureontherighttrack

1. Commitment:  Lack of commitment to a career in medicine and GP is a predictor for poor training outcomes – engagement in pre-exam. preparation shows commitment.

2. Organisational skills:  Poor organisational skills correlate with poor training progress – if you read your college emails regarding exam prep and are organised in your time enough to attend sessions you’re on a winner, because you’re ORGANISED.

3. Critical thinking skills: Yes there is technique in the exam, but if you READ the instructions and follow them, you will be able to pass in any case. Pre-exam courses increase familiarity with the instructions and style of the exam which gives you confidence, and allows extra time to analyse the questions, rather than the rules about answering them.

4. Clinical reasoning: You can know the exam rules backwards, but if you can’t prioritise the answers in the context given you’re up the creek without a paddle….

5. Knowledge: There is no substitute for actually studying – many of the candidates I see don’t do enough, and in the event of unsatisfactory performance, attempt to resit the next cycle – you can’t ‘crash course’ for these exams – it takes time – go to work everyday, then reinforce at night – a little study leave to be nice to yourself is important but context is so crucial.

6. Context: If you have been working at the same practice for more than 12 months or have a special interest, think about a short period of observation in another practice – but it’s much easier to sit-in with a doctor that sees different things in your own practice. Anecdotally doctors that have undertaken a special skills term just before/during exams may not do so well – due to their current practice context informing their answers incorrectly.

7. Be nice to yourself:  Learn some quick relaxation techniques to do before going into the writtens, and in the oral examination tests.   P.S. these are great to educate patients too!

8. These are fair and validated exams – they have been passed by many GPs for many years, with far less education than what is provided now – ‘training’ is the difference – immerse yourself in your week – seek opportunities to see the things you don’t normally see, be curious, sit-in with your peers, let them watch you (and not just for Oral exam practice) – that’s how you calibrate – use the tacit knowledge that’s available to you!

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