GUEST BLOG: How to pass the AMC MCQ

Hello everyone. My name is Dr Erum Amer. Just like you guys I am also an international medical graduate. I have cleared both the Australian Medical Council MCQ and Clinical exams and I am currently tutoring at the Australian Medical Review Centre. I understand that from a foreigner point of view Australian medical exams can come around looking very tricky and complicated, especially, the preparation part. But in reality it’s actually not very hard, in fact it’s quite interesting. In this blog, I will share my point of view on the AMC MCQ exam and how to prepare for it.

After preparing for the AMC MCQ exam and clearing it, I realized that there are a set number of topics that come in the exam. These are the same topics that were tested ten years ago, same topics that are being tested today and same topics that would be tested after ten years. Only the answers change due to updated guidelines. So the first question is: what topics are these and where to find them? 

Australian Medical Council has recommended a book called Handbook of Multiple Choice Question. This is the ONLY book that the council recommends; all others are reference books including the famous John Murtagh. From my point of view the book Handbook of Multiple Choice Question is the key to passing the AMC MCQ exam as this book discusses the most important topics that are common in Australian hospitals and therefore these are the topics tested in the exam. So the answer to our first question is: All the important topics that we need to prepare for the exam are discussed in the Handbook of Multiple Choice Question in the form of question and answers. 

Here comes our second question: How to prepare for these topics? 

The best way I found to prepare these topics was to first give a read of the topic from John Murtagh. This will give a basic understanding in regards to the topic. If the topic is not present in John Murtagh then another good reference book you can keep with you is Kaplan part two series (which comprises internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, gynecology & obstetrics and psychiatry). 

YOU DO NOT NEED TO READ JOHN MURTAGH OR KAPLAN SERIES COVER TO COVER. 

These are just reference books. So give a read of the topic from the book to get a basic understanding, then Google search Australian guidelines of that topic. For example: if the topic is basal cell carcinoma then first give a basic read of basal cell carcinoma from John Murtagh then search ‘Basal cell carcinoma Australian guidelines’. Lots of links come on Google search but we go for authentic Australian links to journals like Australian Family Physician (afp or racgp); Medical Journal of Australia; Australian Prescriber; British Medical Journal; Current Therapeutics, Lancet; and  New England Journal of Medicine. Read the latest journal. Make notes in the following pattern: 1. Definition 2. Clinical features 3. Investigations especially first line and gold standard 4. Management. 

Don’t make notes more than 2 A4 pages as it will be difficult to memorize. Include any important key points that stuck out in the journal like most important differentials or any specific age the condition is most seen in. 

While reading the Handbook of Multiple Choice Question, one thing I realized was every question is actually a topic that can come in the exam BUT I didn’t need to prepare all questions/topics. Some topics are very well discussed in the Handbook of Multiple Choice Question. 

Another important thing I learned especially when doing dermatology and radiology was Google search images. Look at the first 20 images and identify the important features. This way by the end of looking at 20 pictures you will get a good understanding of how a certain condition looks. 

This is the way I prepared for my MCQ exam and by the time I gave my exam I realized that my MBBS knowledge was polished according to Australian guidelines and I had a good grasp of the most important topics. 

I wish you the very best of luck and hope this blog was of some help.  

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