Have a plan
It is my understanding that the content of the RACGP exam is theoretically proportioned according to the presentations seen in practice, based on the BEACH data. Although BEACH data is no longer being collected, it can still be a useful starting point because it is worth having an idea of what areas are likely to come up a lot in the exam (eg. respiratory) and which things might only have one or two questions.
You can then formulate a list of topics to cover. This will help you identify the biggest gaps in your knowledge, allocate your study time effectively and make sure you don’t miss anything.
We divided the topics up between us and each week prepared a couple of pages of notes on our allocated topic. We would then meet up to discuss the topics, gossip about work and take turns demonstrating our culinary skills over dinner.
It’s a pretty comprehensive list so we felt pretty well prepared for the exam and are now benefiting from having a great set of reference notes for use in day-to-day practice.
Familiarise yourself with the exam format
It would seem that exam success is partly due to knowledge and partly due to knowing how to answer the questions. I’d recommend that you attend any exam preparation workshops run by your RTO as this will help you get used to the type of questions you’ll encounter in the exam.
There are also workshops in different states run by the RACGP so check the website for details. GPRA also runs exam preparation webinars by people who have recently sat and passed the exams.
Also, do have a go at some practice exams. There are courses accessible through the RACGP online learning portal gplearning including an online practise exam and you might be able to get hold of some old papers floating around from some of the registrars who have recently done the exam.
Beware that some of the hand-me-down practice exams are quite old so the questions aren’t particularly up to date.
When it comes to the clinical exam – practise practise practise, preferably with one or two other people and a stopwatch.
The time management for short and long cases takes a bit of getting used to. Make sure you read the question carefully, as short cases might ask for history and exam, history and management, management only, interpretation of results or any combination of the above.
You won’t get points for a perfect management plan if the question does not ask for it so don’t waste valuable minutes.
For long cases, we found it helpful to have a standard template on an A4 piece of paper which you could quickly scribble out during reading time so you don’t miss anything.
For example, you might write down the following headings: HPC, PMH, allergies, smoking, drugs, medications, social history, FH, examination (vital signs, systems, MSE if relevant), investigations (bedside, lab, imaging, special investigations), management (short, medium, long term, medication, lifestyle, referral) and safety netting.
Clinical Cases for General Practice Exams by Susan Wearne is a good textbook for clinical exam practice. You can also buy The general practice clinical cases book on the GPRA website.
Also: don’t forget to enrol!