BY AFIZA AZMEE
Resources I used for Part B
Question Bank & Notes
- SPMM notes and question bank
- MRCPsych Mentor notes and question bank
As I have mentioned before in my Part A page, I only used SPMM and MRCPsych Mentor notes and question bank for the preparation of my Part B. I did not repeat my subscription to Birmingham because:
1) I was not impressed by the misleading answers that the Birmingham Course provided for their questions when I was doing them during my Part A. (But I do feel like their notes could be quite useful even if some of their questions were misleading).
2) I only had 8 months to prepare for my Part B (I passed my Part A in Februrary 2017, and I took my Part B in October 2017). I felt like I must prioritize my time carefully and only do the ones that would be most beneficial to me. I had textbooks to read too for reference. So I felt like SPMM and Mentor should be enough preparation with the limited time that I had.
3)Financial wise, I could only afford two subscriptions. Enough said.
So, really, we can only prepare so much. At the end of the day, we can only do our best within the boundaries of our own limitations and be at peace that this is all we can do and all we can afford and pray that Allah let us pass our exams after we had put in our effort.
I used the same books that I used in Part A. So you can check out what I wrote in Part A.
I mostly used Maudsley this time, though. Because Part B is more clinical. It is about reading CPG, NICE guidelines and Maudsley guidelines. It is more about clinical management.
And there are A LOT of statistics questions. 1/3rd of the questions in Part B are on statistics. Even the Master exam and MRCP do not emphasize on statistics the way MRCPsych does. (60 statistics questions, during my time. The college would give you very long paragraph of studies that you have to evaluate and a few questions would be asked based on that long paragraphs of studies. It was really tough, guys! The statistics questions might be less now because the college has reduced the number of total questions from 200 to 150 while maintaining the same exam duration. Lucky, you guys! Memang tak cukup masa sangat-sangat when I was doing my Part B. Perhaps the college had listened to the constructive comments from previous candidates and decided that it would be fair to reduce the number of questions.)
But I did not use any Statistics books to help me with Statistics. I mostly did a lot of questions from Mentor first, to get a rough idea of what I needed to study. And then I studied SPMM notes and wrote my own short notes where I listed all the formulas I needed to use for each type of study design. You have to memorize all the formulas, of course (Odds Ratio, Relative Risks, NNT, Absolute Risk Reduction, Absolute Benefit Increase, Sensitivity, Specificity, Accuracy, Positive and Negative Likelihood Ratio, Positive and Negative Predictive Values, Pre-test and Post-test Probability and a lot more formulas to remember for your advanced statistics. The most headache-inducing part for me personally was the one where we had to choose which statistical test to use for which type of data in our studies. We have Parametric test and non-parametric tests. And based on the type of data/sample that you are collecting and whether the data are paired or unpaired, you must choose the correct statistical test for them. I hated this part, oh God. Hahaha.)
PART B SYLLABUS
For Part B, it is more imperative that you subscribed to question bank EARLY! As I said before, I only had 8 months to prepare for it. I focused the first four months on mastering Statistics alone. Because I knew that I could cram the clinical part pretty fast should time be limited. Clinical parts are what we do every day, anyway. So, I knew that it was just a matter of memorizing and cramming.
But I knew I could not cram statistics without understanding and mastering the statistics syllabus first. So that was why I only focused on statistics for my first four months. Once I was done covering all the stats syllabus and had moved on to studying the clinical parts, I still allocated one or two sessions per week of doing statistics to avoid memory decay of the statistics skills that I had learned.
This was just what I did. It might not necessarily work for you guys. If you guys are good at stats, then it might not matter whatever strategy you choose to employ and whichever parts you choose to study first.
The syllabus is as follows:
- Study designs
- Bias, blinding, causality
- Interventional Studies
- Economic Studies
- Secondary Research
- Intention To Treat Analysis
- Qualitative Study
- Quality Improvement
- N-of-1 trial
2)Evidence Based Medicine
- EBM principles
- Evaluating Causation
- Evaluating diagnosis
- Evaluating Meta-analysis
- Evaluating prognosis
- Evaluating therapy
- Graphs interpretation
3) Advanced Statistics
- Choosing statistical tests, correlation regression, multivariate etc etc
9)Old Age Psychiatry
10) Child Psychiatry
11) Learning Disability
12) Addiction Psychiatry
As you can see, the syllabus is huge. The first three topics alone (Research Methods, Evidence Based Medicine, Advanced Statistics) required 4 months for me to really understand and master all the questions. Only after I am done with those do I properly study the rest of the clinical syllabus. And Alhamdulillah, that strategy worked for me. 8 months of study is sufficient for you to pass your Part B provided that you subscribe early and be methodical in how you cover all the topics.
You must know yourself, your weaknesses and your strength when you are planning your study. For example, I am pretty good with cramming at the last minute in things that I’ve already understood or have gone through at least once. If all I had to do is remembering/memorizing, then I could keep that at the last minutes provided I already understood the concept in the first place and only needed to refresh my memory. But I am not very good at statistics because I didn’t understand some of the concepts when I first read the notes. So I decided to prioritize statistics first, to understand what I had to understand, and then just repeatedly do the questions over and over again.
I found the exam was crazy tough MAINLY because I did not have enough time to properly ruminate and indulge my OCPD-ness to my heart’s satisfaction hahah. Hopefully, now that the college has reduced the number of questions for you guys, you would not have the same difficulty as I did.
The first 60 questions were on statistics alone. Stats questions were so tough. They gave you around 12 studies (of various study designs). For each of the study, they would ask around 4-6 questions based on that study. The questions were tricky. For example, they didn’t simply ask you in a straightforward manner ‘What is the positive likelihood ratio for this?” Nope! You must first interpret the sentences in the question…. is this question asking for positive likelihood ratio or positive predictive value? So you then would calculate the answer using BOTH formulas and you think you will choose whichever answer is present among the options. But unfortunately, BOTH answers are present among the options. You have no choice but to interpret the question correctly before you can pick the right answer. So if you interpret the question wrongly, you will give the wrong answer.
Some decided to rush through the clinical questions first and leave the tougher statistics questions in the end. They felt that by being able to finish clinical questions early, then they could have plenty of time to spend on statistics.
I personally spent my time on statistics first because I was more confident with the clinical questions. I knew that if I ran out of time, I could rush through clinical questions by choosing the answer based on my first instinct alone. But if I had left statistics at the end but ended up still running out of time, I could NOT rush through answering the statistics questions because I MUST analyze the question properly before I could give the right answer.
So my advice is, KNOW YOURSELF.
If you are very good in statistics, then it really doesn’t matter which part you decide to do first. But if you are like me… not very good at statistics…then I suggest you get statistic questions out of the way first. Because chances are you can answer clinical questions faster and can always rush through them if you ran out of time in the end. But if you ran out of time while answering statistics (plus the panic of running out of time) chances are you would not do well in the exam. Because the portion of questions on statistics are HUGE! I spent 2 hours for statistics alone in the exam. I had 140 clinical questions to answer in the one hour that I had left. 30 minutes before the time was up, I had 60 questions left to answer… which meant I had ONLY 30 seconds for each question with barely any time to double check my answer in the end. Thank God I had decided to leave all the clinical questions in the end!
I really thought I would not be able to make it. But Alhamdulillah, Allah is Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
I hope you guys are able to get some idea about Part B after reading this page. I wish all of you the best in your exam. May Allah reward your patience in pursuing His knowledge by bestowing upon you the best of success in this life and the hereafter. Amin. Much love and may Allah bless all of us.