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Revision Strategy – Practical Exams


Set aside some time each week to go to the wards and examine patients. Find out when particular surgery lists are on (varicose veins, hernias, thyroid etc) and try to examine patients on the morning of their surgery – this way you’ll be able to see a lot of signs.

Print out the marking sheets for the various stations (Long: abdomen, respiratory, cardiology, neurology, diabetic review, orthopaedics. Short: breast, hernias, varicose veins, peripheral vascular exam, neck/thyroid, dermatology). Make sure each one includes the final sentence “To complete my examination, I’d like to…”. Take a friend along to time and mark you after examining each patient.

Practise presenting after each examination, either to your friend, your mirror image, a doctor on the ward. Have some example presentations ready or write down an example presentation at the end of the day for each of your patients, taking some time to think of the most important positive and negative findings to mention in every case. The more you do it, the better you will get.

Practise the viva part – over and over again! If you’re on your own, find a doctor on the ward, alternatively take a friend and viva each other after each examination. Don’t worry if you’re on your own – the questions are very easy to predict and usually start with the following:

  • “Can you please present your findings.”
  • “What is your differential diagnosis?”
  • “What is the most likely diagnosis?”
  • “How would you go on to investigate this patient?”
  • “How would you manage this patient?”

To access some resources for practical exams, take a look here.

There are a few books that help with further less generic questions – I recommend you have them on you at all times:

Get them at the beginning of the year and work with them from the beginning – you’ll have no problems passing.

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