Whatever your approach to study, the one thing we know that will make a difference is to FOCUS. Admittedly it’s easier said than done! So here are a few general tips on how to FOCUS for those of you considering sitting the written FRACGP exams:
Find time to study
Most candidates I speak to post-exams lament that they didn’t allocate enough time to study, or studied at the wrong place (at home with screaming infants instead of the local library), or simply didn’t study for long enough. Quantity as well as quality is paramount. Whichever way you choose to do it, be it a large yearly planner, bits of post-it notes, or a snazzy online app, allocate study time and protect it. Organise your social outings around it, and not the other way around.
Organise the curriculum
Download the RACGP curriculum and the BEACH data – it’s freely available, and though sadly no longer a live project, does still accurately reflect the common and important conditions encountered in general practice. Chunk the topics into digestible bits, and put this in your planner. There are approximately 5 months left before the exam – do the maths. How much time can you spend on each topic? (And don’t forget the uncommon but serious presentations).
Coffee and cake
Everyone needs time out. But if you keep it to coffee and not Cointreau with your cake you’ll be in fighting fit condition to absorb knowledge the next day.
Most candidates will have a list of their favourite websites or study books. Don’t forget that the exam is based on competency to practice in Australia, not overseas – so by all means read your best evidence from North America or UK, but make sure you remember the Australian guidelines and treatment regimes.
Study groups can be friend or foe
Most candidates form study groups. From experience, and from accumulated candidate feedback, study groups can either be a great study aid, where ideas and knowledge are shared, accumulated and inculcated, or a real hindrance. So ask yourself: Am I getting anything out of this? If the answer is a resounding ‘yes’, then go for it! If the answer is somewhat ambivalent, maybe it’s time to rethink your study strategy.
So, FOCUS and all the best!
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