Facing FRCS (Orth) in a Pandemic Part 1

Due to COVID, so far I have only completed Section 1 of the FRCS.

Everyone in my local revision group was very different in how they prepared, reflecting our very different styles of learning (and amount of free time with children/family/COVID/work commitments). The importance of having colleagues who understood the pressures and stresses of revision was huge. They were a great motivator and if you don’t have local colleagues going through the exam at the same time as you I would strongly recommend reaching out to a neighbouring deanery or to us at BOTA to try and get in touch with other peri-exam trainees.

I began preparation using an online lecture course from https://www.letstalkdr.com/ during the first lockdown. I found that although some of the information was relatively basic and the lecture quality was variable (but usually excellent), overall the course was very useful. The basic science lectures were probably the ones I found most useful and the fact it gave me a strong structure for my ongoing personal revision was really important. It also made me actually do some work!

I signed up to the paid version of www.orthobullets.com which although very American did provide an enormous resource of MCQs to work through. I had a pretty unstructured approach to this but basically made it my goal to get every question on the site correct at least once. Given that there are about 8000 questions and I generally got them wrong the first time, it was a lot of repetitive boredom but it worked. The questions are not written in the same format as the FRCS questions, and some of them are incredibly frustrating because of ambiguity in the language or the fact that the “correct” answer is often quite controversial, but nonetheless the sheer volume is definitely valuable.

Although I didn’t actually buy any, I used a variety of MCQ books which I was given by more senior colleagues. Some of them were good, some of them were just terrifyingly hard, but I did find them a useful break when I couldn’t cope with looking at a screen any more.

A really useful resource that I came across was https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2v5coQLYkeBnAP33ZGQPng.

He had recently sat the exam when he made a series of videos about basic science questions. It’s possibly more focused at Section 2 of the FRCS but I found that the drawings really helped me solidify concepts in my mind – again it comes down to learning styles.

As for text books I almost exclusively used Ramachandran Basic Science book and Miller’s Review.

Finally, as someone said to me – remember, this isn’t a test of being good at your job. It’s just a test of whether or not you can be bothered to put the effort in to pass. I found that quite a useful motivating thought.

Graham Finlayson