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How to crack MRCS Part A and the Best books for MRCS Part A preparation (Updated)

Sharing my preparation plan and resources for preparation of MRCS Part A here. I would rate the difficulty of the exam as moderate, at least it was not something which can be taken lightly. There were times in the exam hall when I was doubting myself over my responses to the questions. Quite a few questions were very tricky, so you have to be on your toes while doing preparation.Until the day of the result I had a doubt over me cracking the exam, but the big day came as a pleasant surprise. Below I will break up the preparation into a few steps:

Step 0 : Understand what is MRCS Part A Exam and Which College to choose?

Step 1: Decide date of the exam giving yourselves enough time and a good headstart over the competition

Step 2: Choose your study resources

Step 3: Join various Facebook communities where students and seniors help each other over study resources and important information regarding the exams

Step 4: Revise what you have read

Step 5: Hold onto your nerves in the examination hall and don't do silly mistakes

Step 0: Understand what is MRCS Part A Exam and Which College to choose?

The MRCS examination is a crucial milestone for a surgical career in the UK; it determines whether a surgical trainee possesses the correct knowledge, skills and attributes to complete basic training and to progress to higher levels of specialist surgical training. Since MRCS is an intercollegiate exam, so after passing part A in any of the above college one can give part B in same or any of the other colleges. Degree will be awarded by the college in which Part B is given. There is no difference in value of degree awarded all are equal only difference is Edinburgh is more immigrant friendly college and Eng is more popular and difficult to get through. MRCS Part A exam is conducted by:

1.RCS England

2.RCS Edinburgh

3.RCS Glasgow

4.RCS Ireland

Step 1: Decide date of the exam giving yourselves enough time and a good headstart over the competition

  • Deciding when to give the exam is one of the important factors which will drive your success in the exam
  • It is held three times a year in January, April and September with booking closing approximately 2 months before the exam date.
  • You can follow these two routes
    • Express Preparation: Requires 6 months. Suitable for those who do not have a very tight work schedule and can take out a good relaxed 4-6 hours of time to study each day.
    • Laid Back Preparation: Requires 1 year. Suitable for those who have a very busy work schedule and cannot devote more than 2-3 hours per day of study time.
  • Once you decide about which cohort you would fall in, book a date for the exam
  • Until you don't book a date, your brain will be in a denial about the exam preparation and  you will be as lazy as a toad. So if you are really serious, book a date at the earliest.

Step 2: Choose your study resources

  • What to read to crack MRCS again depends on when are you starting your preparation. 
  • In case you are going the express route your resources will include more of MCQs and EMQs, and less of theory books which will be used only for reference
  • In case you choose to go the laid back route, you have a chance to work on your weak areas, strengthen your basics and mix it with a right proportion of MCQ/EMQ practice everyday
  • Below are few books which are a must for preparation of MRCS Part A 
Best Theory Books for MRCS Part A Preparation

1) MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes: Book 1
(Buy Now)

2) MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes: Book 2
(Buy Now)

3) Basic Science for the MRCS: A revision guide for surgical trainees (MRCS Study Guides)
(Buy Now)

4) Oxford Handbook of Clinical Surgery
(Buy Now)

Best MCQ/EMQ Books for MRCS Part A Preparation

I cannot over emphasize the importance of doing as many MCQ/EMQs as possible because our brain usually is good at recalling readymade retained information in pressure situations, as in the exam hall it is sometimes difficult to come at conclusions. So having  done a few MCQ/EMQs on the topic given in the exam will increase your probability of giving a right response to the question. Below are a few books you can go through:

1) SBAs for the MRCS Part A: A Bailey & Love Revision Guide
Paperback – 25 Sep 2018
(Buy Now)

2) Bailey & Love Companion Guide Mcqs & Emqs In Surgery
(Buy Now)

3) Rush University Medical Center Review of Surgery
(Buy Now)

4) MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 1 SBAs
(Buy Now)

5) MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 2 EMQs
(Buy Now)

Best MCQ/EMQ Online Resources for MRCS Part A Preparation

  1. Pastest : Over 4,300 MRCS A exam-themed questions
  2. OnExam : Over 1,700 single best answer questions, 1,300 extended matching items and 2015 Mock Test 
  3. eMRCS : Over 2,000 Single Best Answer and Extended Matching questions based on themes from previous exams

Step 3: Join various Facebook communities where students and seniors help each other over study resources and important information regarding the exams

Following are a few communities which can help you understand your competition, keep you motivated and help you with more guidance on the study resources: 

Step 4: Revise what you have read

One month before the exam stop reading anything new and focus only on the revision. Stick to MCQ/EMQs for your revision. Try to take a glance of all of them atleast once. 

Step 5: Hold onto your nerves in the examination hall and don't do silly mistakes

On the D-Day... 
  • Stay composed
  • Read questions carefully
  • Mark the options as you attempt questions
  • Keep a track of time, remember you have less than a minute to attempt each question. Time is one of the important factor which will determine your success.
  • Avoid silly mistakes
  • Keep your senses working 
  • Don't get nervous
  • Take good breakfast, stay energized and well hydrated 
If you have studied well, you will definitely clear the exam.


Frequently Asked Questions about MRCS Exam preparation

1) What is the best time for appearing in MRCS Part A for Indian doctors?

For MRCS Part A, the best time to prepare and appear in exam in my view is 2nd year, because you have had a good practical exposure to most clinical situations which are asked in the exams by then. This will make reading theory and attempting questions more interesting.

2) Can I appear in MRCS Part A after after successfully completing my pg entrance exams?

However if you think you have enough time available after your pg entrance exams, and you think you are comfortable with basic knowledge of  supespecialties like urology, vascular surgery, orthopaedics, neurosurgery etc, you can go ahead with MRCS Part A.

3) What is the best time for appearing in MRCS Part B exams for Indian doctots?

For MRCS Part B, the best time to prepare is 3rd year, you are very strong clinically by then and you will be able to prepare with minimum effort. Your probability to pass the exam will also be higher. In addition to it, it will also help in preparation of final year general surgery clinicals.

4) After doing MRCS part A, within how much time we have to pass MRCS part B? 

After passing part A, you are required to pass Part B of the examination within seven years. Otherwise successful MRCS Part A result will be considered as expired.

5) Is MRCS Exam mandatory for doing FRCS?

There can be a direct entry to FRCS too but for experienced surgeons only and that too after satisfying a lot of other criteria. But MRCS makes it easier to get GMC registration, Royal college sponsorship, fellowships and jobs in the UK.

6) Can I start my preparation for MRCS immediately after finishing my housejob?

You can start your preparation for MRCS Part A immediately after finishing your housejob but it is always better to have some basic surgical experience before you appear for MRCS Part B.

7) Is MRCS Degree of any use in India?

A degree from western country adds to a surgeon's bona fide. It shows that your standard of knowledge matches the international standards. That is the reason many specialists resort to naming the institution or University from which they obtained the MRCS/ FRCS in brackets after the degree. MRCS is a very standardized examination with emphasis on basic sciences. MRCS can authenticate minimum proficiency in the basic principles of General Surgery.

8) What are the changes in the pattern of MRCS Part A exam?

MRCS A exam earlier used a mixture of single best answer multiple choice questions (MCQs) and extended matching MCQs (EMQs) in Paper 2. From September 2018, only single best answer MCQs are being asked in the paper.


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