How to Pass Exams

How to Pass Exams.

This course explores the psychology of examination preparation. Drawing on research and our experience mentoring doctors many with repeated examination failures, the course offers a three-step approach towards achieving successful outcomes – Strategy, System and Specificity. From learning how to establish your study space to maximise your comfort and concentration, producing a workable study plan and using different study methods, to the specifics for written examinations, OSCE’s or Viva’s including how to answer questions effectively, non-verbal communication in exam situations and coping with nerves. Learn the 3S approach to give yourself the edge.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  1. Establish a study space which optimises their comfort, concentration and sustains their attention preventing boredom and fatigue.
  2. Understand the importance of eliminating electronic distractions and recreating exam conditions.
  3. Produce a workable study plan.
  4. Appreciate the importance of having a good work-life balance to manage their lives outside of medicine.
  5. List and describe the constituents of an effective examination preparation system – including making a plan, optimum time allocation, variety of study methods, study aids, ambient learning and use of mock exams.
  6. Identify and describe strategies to use to overcome any negative feelings, self-doubt about examinations and understand the importance of direction, motivation and discipline to turn things around.
  7. Understand how to answer written examination questions effectively and list the most common mistakes in answering OSCE and Viva examination questions.
  8. Understand the importance of non-verbal communication and how to demonstrate a positive image.
  9. List and demonstrate strategies for coping with nerves.
  10. Demonstrate their skills by participating in small group viva question and OSCE scenario practice.


09:00: Online registration and welcome

09:30 Strategy

Building your study space: ergonomics – use of different study stations to help prevent boredom and fatigue – optimising concentration for longer periods and sustaining attention through variation; comfortable desk and chair – lighting – use of wall-space for planning and study aids; disable or eliminate electronic distractions and recreating exam conditions; how to produce a workable study plan; managing your life outside medicine to achieve synergy.

  • The basis: Tomkins and Gilbert (2020) World Journal of Medical Education publication.
  • Time allocation – 12-15 hours a week optimum – rotating through syllabus topics.
  • Study unit – Reading, note-taking, making audio-notes, practising technique.
  • Study aids – Mnemonics, on-camera work, binaural beats, multimodal learning.
  • Ambient learning – Wallcharts, diagrams, mind maps, audio-notes.
  • Mock exams – Timed and under strict exam conditions to replicate the day.

10:45 Refreshment break

11:00 Specificity

  • Self-belief and self-limiting belief – The ‘I’m not good enough’ myth – fighting back
  • Waves of despair – How to ride and reverse them – HALT! Hungry Angry Lonely Tired?
  • Plato’s cave – Trust your reason not your emotions
  • Direction, Motivation and Discipline – How to replace procrastination with motivation
  • Written exams: MCQ’s, SBA’s, SAQ’s, CRQ’s – Answering strategies
  • Coping with nerves – Deep breathing strategies – autonomic conditioning – staying calm
  • Non-verbal communication How to appear relaxed and focussed under pressure
  • On the day – Psycho-Cybernetics – giving yourself the edge – coping with the competition
  • OSCE’s and Viva’s – Small group viva question and OSCE scenario practice

12:20 Question and answer session, summary and close

Further details
The fee for this course is £99:00 Please note this deposit is non-refundable should you be unable to take up your place.

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Please contact us if you have any questions about this course by emailing or by calling 07757 405063.