Exam Top Tips


Plan ahead

What time is your exam? Where is the venue? Is there parking? Plan in advance so that you are not rushed on the day of the exam and that you arrive punctually. Sweat patches aren’t cool buddy.

Check the list below to make sure you are prepped for the following day. Being organised will make the exam day less stressful.

Exam venue and time

Mode of transport (are you walking?, bus timetables, is there parking for a car?)

Time it takes to get to venue (plus, give yourself a 30 minute leeway, for any unexpected problems)

Iron clothes day before

Make a packed lunch (if it's going to be an all day affair)

Documents and ID (check what you need to be allowed into the exam)

You shouldn't need last minute revision because you are ready. You're gonna ace it.

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Sleep well

We know it’s difficult, but it makes a world of difference. A well rested mind is a more competent one.

You should be in a routine by now, so no late nights and no need for last minute revision. Get to bed by a decent hour and give yourself 6-8 hours of kip (any longer will make you more tired). Having problems sleeping? Check this sleep hygiene advice from the Sleep Foundation.


And for those of you into your extra curricular activities, coaches advise athletes to avoid any hanky panky before the big game. So, leave it for the celebrations...

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Fuel up

I know you'd rather feel like vomiting at this point, but that ain't gunna help nobodies. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - so don't miss it!

Keep it light, keep it easy and healthy. Forgo the English Breakfast feast for today. This isn't Man vs Food, but Man (or woman, we ain't sexist) vs Exam. Bran releases energy slowly through the day and apparently is more likely to keep you full till lunch.

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Dress to impress

I don't mean like you're doing a photoshoot for Vogue or Esquire, but dress confidently and it will make you ACT confidently.

Now there are a few conditions to this. No cleavage. No chest hair. And both comments apply to both sexes. That's right, it's unprofessional and unnecessary. This is a formal exam amongst your potential future employers, not your driving test.

Make sure you are bare below your elbows (on your arms! I don't mean turn up without trousers or underwear. You can be sure to fail if you do). So, no jewellery or watches people. And sleeves rolled up.

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Smile and the world smiles with you

We know you have a million other things on your mind, but if you appear to be a nice person, then patients and examiners will think you are and it will make them nice to YOU. Which makes the process a lot easier.

Make sure when you turn up to the exam you are smiling. It makes you appear confident and a friendly person. Be nice to the receptionists, the actors, the examiners and your teaching staff-people remember.

Wish everyone luck and be nice to people. You may be potentially marked against them, but you should truly wish everyone luck during this horrible process. Karma is a bitch, and if you're one of those people that wishes ill on others... well let's just say I wouldn't want to be in your shoes.

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Wash your hands

The Ayliffe technique is your mantra. You shouldn't even have to think about doing it, it should be second nature by now.

This should be ingrained into your mind and your routine for every exam. Wash your hands before you examine AND after you examine every patient! Even when doing a Mental Health Station!

It sounds absurd I know, but infection control is paramount, and they want to know that you are aware of this too!

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No shit Sherlock

With our help, you probably think you are the boss of medical examinations and you don’t have to answer to nobodies, but people need to know what’s going on.

Now if you are one of those people that has verbal diarrhoea and talks every step of the way, that’s cool (yeah, with a kicking K) or you could be one of those mutes that hates even eye contact, but there has to be a minimum of patient interaction.

You’re not examining your Teddy Bear anymore, this is a human. You can’t just grab and pull at what you like. Let the patient know what's going on and ask permission first - “Do you mind lifting your hands up so I can have a look at them?”, “I am going to check for your pulse now.”.

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Gently does it

No pain no gain is for the gym guys. You hurt the patient and… just don’t hurt the patient OK!!

Examiners want to make sure they are passing a compassionate doctor. They are not going to feel that way if you are causing the patient pain or distress. Ask the patient if they have pain in a joint before you move it or where you about to press down.

If you know something might be uncomfortable for the patient, warn them and ask them to tell you to stop if it becomes too uncomfortable. And if you do somehow cause the patient pain - apologise the shit out of it! OK, maybe not that much, but at least “I’m really sorry about that, we’ll try to avoid doing that again.”.

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What’s all this random stuff?

Oh, cool, look they left you a hammer and needles to torture the patient if they don’t behave the way you like. Yeah, not so much - if there’s stuff there, it’s to be used as part of the examination.

This ain't the Hunger Games and there won’t be things randomly lying around just in case you’re awesome at using a tendon hammer in a Cardio Exam. No one is trying to trip you up, if there is testing equipment around the station, it will be in eyesight and it is to help you complete your examination.

If something is not there, such as a Fundoscope in a Cardio Exam, they don’t want you to be doing that particular examination. You can always say at the end of the examination, that to complete the exam this is something you would do.

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Let it go

It’s the end of the exam and as my friend Elsa would say, Let. It. Go. Exams never bothered me anyway!

The exam is over, you can’t go back in time and change it now. One thing that might be helpful though, is writing down what stations you got for future Final Year Students.

You’re gonna always feel like you got something to do for the next few days, but try and relax and get some R and R time in. You’ve given it your all and it's time to treat yourself.

You just have to keep your time occupied before you get your results. We advise practicing for your victory dance, coz you are going to nail these exams. Tweet your moves in on results day.

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