Are you planning to take the MRCGP AKT? Have you heard your peers talk about the MRCGP AKT and want to know more about this mysterious exam?
Are you planning to take the MRCGP AKT?
Have you heard your peers talk about the MRCGP AKT and want to know more about this mysterious exam?
This complete MRCGP AKT guide is for you! In this guide, we will cover;
Before we dive into this guide, I’d like to tell you a story about how WellMedic has helped 1000’s of GP trainees pass the MRCGP AKT.
In April 2019, I found myself in a very similar position to you. I was well into my ST1 year, hoping to begin preparing for the MRCGP AKT. I spoke with a number of my GPST colleagues about their AKT preparation and found that the generic advice was to do a question bank, which didn’t sit well with me at the time.
I started to search on Google, looking for some AKT resources, which ultimately led me to several outdated, overly-inflated MRCGP AKT courses. I spoke to a couple of my colleagues about their experience using the courses, and the feedback was very mixed. Still, there was a genuine sentiment amongst my peers that there are many false promises with the ultimate guarantee of an MRCGP AKT pass!
After weighing up my options, I felt that going it alone was my best option.
I took my MRCGP AKT in October 2019 and passed with an incredible score of 90%.
I found myself in a unique position. I was one of the only GP trainees in my cohort who took the October AKT, the majority of my peers took the January sitting, and I became a local expert on the MRCGP AKT.
During the initial COVID-19 lockdown, I found myself in a reasonably quiet psychiatry rotation with many colleagues wanting to know how they should approach their MRCGP AKT revision, especially after many of our local trainees failed their January sitting! In June 2020, WellMedic held its first MRCGP AKT webinar, and since then, we’ve grown exponentially to help 1,000s of GP trainees with their revision!
Why does this matter?
✅ I’ve been in your shoes!
✅ I know how difficult the MRCGP AKT can be.
✅ My strategy has now helped 1,000s of GP trainees with their preparation.
✅ And now it’s my turn to help you pass the MRCGP AKT!
What is the MRCGP AKT?
The MRGP forms one of the two summative assessments for the GP training programme. The AKT is primarily involved in testing the application of your medical knowledge. Now I’m sure you’re already familiar with the exam format, but for completeness, here are the key things you need to know about the MRCGP AKT.
How long do I have to complete the MRCGP AKT?
You have to complete 200 questions in 3 hours and 10 minutes. This works out at just under 60 seconds per question… if you give yourself no time to review any flagged questions.
How are the questions split?
The MRCGP AKT questions are split across three key domains;
80% (160 questions) assessing your clinical knowledge
10% (20 questions) assessing your evidence-based practice (statistics)
10% (20 questions) assessing your understanding of primary care organisation (administration)
What is tested under each domain?
The clinical knowledge domain tests your ability to apply your knowledge from an array of clinical scenarios. You can find a breakdown in the RCGP curriculum guide, which we will discuss later. Some of the popular areas tested include; metabolic problems and endocrinology, pharmacology, neurology, dermatology and children/young people.
Life as a GP can be very uncertain, as there is no limit to what a patient may present with, and it’s this unpredictability that often occurs within the AKT. There is absolutely no limit to what you may be tested on!
After helping 1,000s of GP trainees with their AKT preparation, I know first-hand how tempting it can be to use a high-yield approach. There are advantages to using a high-yield system, but we will cover why this can be somewhat misleading for your AKT preparation!
The evidence-based practice domain covers your ability to appraise research critically. Unfortunately, many trainees approach this section as a pure calculation based exercise. Although calculations are essential, there has to be a sound understanding of what the results tell you! My evidence-based medicine course has repeatedly helped GP trainees score more than 85% in their MRCGP AKT evidence-based practice domain.
The primary care organisation domain tests your ability in breaking down the common management issues encountered by general practitioners. The GP administration curriculum is an absolute monster, which I have broken down into five modules;
1. Improving quality, safety and prescribing.
2. Patient administration.
3. Ethics and governance.
4. National regulations and frameworks.
5. Practice management and leadership.
Is the MRCGP AKT a fair assessment? How does it test my ability in being a competent GP?
Depending on who you speak with, this can trigger a passionate response.
Research from Wakeford et al., published in BMC Medicine, found that doctors sanctioned by the GMC performed substantially less well on the MRCGP and MRCP(UK). It thus concluded that they are valid predictors of professionally important outcomes that transcend simple knowledge or skills. In 2009, the British Journal of General Practice published research comparing the MRCGP AKT performance of GP trainees against MRCGP examiners. It found the exam acceptable to most examiners and that examiners had significantly higher scores than ‘real’ candidates.
Empirically, I have found that most GP trainees find the MRCGP AKT a step above other exams that they have taken and the majority of trainees who pass in their first attempt study very hard!
If a GP trainee tells you that doing a question bank is enough, they are likely lying!
If there’s a single take-home from this MRCGP AKT guide, you need to demonstrate your ability to apply, apply and apply! The MRCGP AKT is much more than simple fact recall. My proven methods will make this an easy transition for you!
What are the commonly made MRCGP AKT mistakes?
In this section, I will share some experiences of our fellow GP training colleagues. Following on from this, we will discuss how you can avoid making the same mistakes!
All of the statements are taken directly from GP trainees who have used WellMedic.co.uk to pass their MRCGP AKT.
Mistake one – failing to self-assess your knowledge.
“I found it really difficult accepting that my performance after failing was down to a lack of preparation. It wasn’t down to the lack of trying, I put in the hours, spent time answering the question banks, but every time I made a mistake, it was either down to the question banks getting it wrong or that I’d convince myself that I knew the answer and would get it right next time.
When I started my revision for the October AKT, I started from the very beginning; as you mentioned, I was genuinely horrified at how I neglected my weaker areas and just focused on the topics that I found easy!”
Mistake two – running out of time.
“Hey Sham, I just wanted to let you know how my exam went this morning! I’m not sure if you remember my earlier email about time management, but I answered my last 30 questions in less than 10 minutes during my previous sitting of the AKT. Thankfully, this time I had 30 minutes to spare! Rather than doing the big mocks before the exam, I used your technique, and as of this point, it’s worked, let’s just see how the results go!”
Mistake three – be wary of the question banks.
“I’ve just signed up to attend your webinar next week, but I wanted to ask if you could answer a quick question for me. I’ve failed the AKT three times, and given that this is my last attempt without an extension, I’m getting a little nervy about whether or not I can pass.
Should I be using question banks, or should I switch my attention the reading the guidance only? I’ve used three-question banks, and I’ve regularly used GP self-test. The issue is that they don’t replicate the exam questions and really can’t see how going through the banks again will help me improve my clinical domain!”
Mistake four – high-yield approach.
“Sham, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks! I’ve managed to pass this irritating exam, and I’m now ready to CCT! This exam has been emotionally tiring, and I’m looking forward to spending quality time with my children and working a couple of sessions per week.
I wanted to share something with you that I hope you can pass on to future GP trainees. The work you are doing is incredible btw! When I first started my preparation for the AKT, I followed a well-renowned GP educator, and I must have spent more than £1,000 after falling for the sales trap… “follow these topics, and you’ll pass the AKT!”
Honestly speaking… it could not be further from the truth. One thing I’ve figured is that knowing what might come up doesn’t make the exam any easier, as you can’t shorthand the essential reading and the reading around the topics.”
Mistake five – sitting the MRCGP at the wrong time for you!
“Thank you for sharing this point around when to take the AKT. Here is my personal experience around timing the AKT. After speaking with my supervisor, his advice was to delay taking the AKT until after my ST2 year, as they have been advised that the pass rate for first-time takers in ST3 is much higher.
Now I will take the October sitting in ST3, but I guess time will only tell whether I’ve made the right decision. The dread I have is failing the October AKT, only to then resit and sit the RCA at the very same time!
The only regret I have is not starting my AKT preparation sooner. Still, I do find your points on doing a GP rotation first and weighing up personal circumstances before committing to the AKT helpful.”
Mistake six – struggling with statistics.
“This evidence-based medicine course is impressive! The complete opposite to how I approached stats for my last attempt. I came out my first attempt, thinking where on earth have these graphs and random tables come from… at least I have the answers now!”
How should I prepare for the AKT? My top MRCGP AKT tips!
In June 2020, I successfully launched my very first MRCGP AKT webinar called “15 ways to BOOST your AKT!”
Three hundred GP trainees attended the webinar, and I subsequently launched the 15 ways to BOOST your AKT course, which is a very comprehensive strategy on how you should prepare for your AKT.
There are three unique features to my AKT preparation course.
- You have unlimited access until you pass your MRCGP AKT.
- It’s massively underpriced at £49.99 only!
- It’s filled with resources, guides and cheat sheets that will help you secure your pass!
This section of this complete MRCGP AKT guide will provide you with several actionable points that you can implement into your revision plan today.
When should I take the MRCGP AKT?
The honest answer is that I do not know when the right time would be for you! I sat the MRCGP AKT in October 2019, and this was at three months into my ST2 year on a busy paediatric placement, where I was working one in three weekends.
The AKT can be taken from the beginning of your ST2 year. It is held three times a year, usually in January, April and October. Here are some points to consider when choosing your perfect MRCGP AKT date?
- Have you undertaken a GP rotation?
If you’re comfortable with a GP’s day-to-day workings, this may not apply to you. However, if you’re not so familiar, then it’s well worth knowing the ethical and management issues that may arise for a GP for your practice management domain.
One of the underestimated tools in preparing for your MRCGP AKT is your clinical reflection within a GP environment. You will constantly find yourself applying your knowledge of primary guidance, and you can use this as an opportunity to revise for the MRCGP AKT.
Here is an example;
Let’s say you have a positive urine culture for an elderly patient. She has type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease stage 4 and peripheral neuropathy. She is allergic to penicillin.
The urine culture is sensitive to; pivmecillinam, nitrofurantoin and amoxicillin.
Is there an alternative antibiotic that you could use in this situation?
- Do you have enough time to revise?
We will cover this in more detail, but it’s vitally important that you do not underestimate how long you need to revise for the MRCGP AKT. In my experience, trainees often spend between twelve to sixteen weeks studying for their MRCGP AKT exam. Knowing how long to study for may be influenced by your working rota, childcare commitments, annual leave etc.
- Is it sensible to leave a big gap from your AKT to your RCA?
There will be a clinical component to your RCA or CSA examination. If you’re looking to tackle both in a similar time frame, then you may consider doing both exams in your ST3 year.
So why did I choose to take the exam at the beginning of ST2?
There were a couple of reasons for me taking the exam early. I graduated in 2013, and I hadn’t envisaged taking exams six years post-graduation, so I was in a real rush to get the MRCGP AKT out of the way!
My wife and I were expecting our second child, and I was in a rush to finish revising so that I could spend some carefree time with my newborn.
Many GP trainees find themselves locuming whilst completing their training. As a family, we knew that our finances would be tight during maternity leave, and it was essential for me to locum after taking my MRCGP AKT exam.
The point I’m hoping to demonstrate is that whenever you decide to take your MRCGP AKT exam, weigh up to pros and cons and start preparing early!
Plan your MRCGP AKT revision with WellMedic.co.uk!
There are approximately 28 broad sections within the RCGP curriculum that require your attention for the MRCGP AKT. So is planning for the AKT simple?
There are simple approaches to planning for the AKT. I feel that both can be personalised to your requirements using the WellMedic planning tool.
Create a list of the topics you need to cover and spread this evenly across the twelve or sixteen weeks you have to revise!
In my experience, there is often a dash to get through all of the topics, followed by a more mixed revision schedule in the last four weeks.
Option two ⛔⛔⛔ (AVOID THIS IF YOU CAN!)
You purchase an MRCGP AKT study plan or high-yield webinar, and you only cover the recommended topics.
The WellMedic approach towards planning your revision requires some work, but the basis of this approach is very much around self-assessment.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses at regular intervals and help this reshape your revision plan.
I cover the art of self-assessment in my premium AKT course. Using the RCGP curriculum guide would be the most expansive method, but it isn’t always realistic, so you may find that regular timed tests per speciality are better suited to you.
If you’d like to know more about the WellMedic MRCGP AKT planning tool, please click here.
What is the best AKT question bank?
Several question banks are fighting for your attention. PassMedicine, Pastest, On examination and various others are fighting it out on Google ads for your attention and money! The short answer is that there is no real difference in any of the MRCGP AKT question banks.
I used PassMedicine and GP selftest from the RCGP during my AKT revision. The better question is to consider whether using a question bank will help you pass the MRCGP AKT?
There is no doubt that question banks are the most used tool for AKT revision. Many of us have relied on question bank websites from year one of medical school. Why would we change our approach now?
Let’s start with the positives. Question banks can help you cover multiple clinical topics in a very short timeframe. They are also instrumental in tracking your progress and preparing for the time-critical nature of the AKT. Is there a danger with using AKT question banks?
Yes, there is…
Question banks do not replicate the application element of the AKT.
My friend was recently studying for her physician associate exam using a well-known question bank. The questions she encountered were precisely the same as the questions I had answered during my AKT revision.
Your familiarity with the question bank may inflate your progress.
As you work through the question banks, you will encounter multiple very similar questions, and the 4,000+ questions will not be unique. So it is worth considering how much new knowledge are you attaining from multiple attempts?
Go beyond the description.
The descriptions from question banks are helpful, but you may find that they are not overly comprehensive. Although they may help identify gaps within your knowledge base, you will need to look directly at primary guidance to ensure comprehensive curriculum coverage.
How should I prepare for the time-critical nature of the AKT?
All too often, GP trainees fail to complete the MRCGP AKT within the allocated time.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of things that may throw you during the exam. Some of the questions have incredibly long descriptions, and you may become frustrated with a question and then end up spending a little longer trying to answer the question.
Here are some of the things you can do to master your timing.
- Completing a two-hour mock exam is not proof that you will complete the MRCGP AKT.
- Practice smaller timed-test, but give yourself an unrealistic timeframe!
- Be prepared to flag a question if you’re spending longer than 45 seconds. Before you move on, make sure you take a guess!
What are the best MRCGP AKT revision resources?
My AKT revision strategy involves going above and beyond question banks. I feel that there is a missed opportunity if you do not look at primary guidance.
“If you want to make your life easier, look at where the examiners source their knowledge.”
Medicine is an ever-changing vocation. We have witnessed this first-hand with the Covid-19 vaccination programme. I cannot stress how important it is to seek your medical knowledge from up to date resources!
I cover ten primary guidance resources in my premium AKT course.
Here are three examples;
The Primary Care Dermatology Society (PCDS) is a popular reference tool amongst GPs, and I found that their images were most representative of the MRCGP AKT.
We are all familiar with how vital the BNF is for the AKT. However, we often miss looking at the BNF summary guides. The summary guides can provide helpful information on several topics. The summary guide of palliative prescribing is beneficial.
Why would I use the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists?
Speciality guidance can be beneficial during your AKT revision. The RCOG had several patient leaflets around antenatal care, which helps with the screening and lifestyle advice offered to pregnant individuals.
This podcast helps demonstrate some of the finer AKT details hidden deep within the primary resources. Within twelve months of launching this podcast, we have recorded over 12,000 listeners.
How should I prepare for statistics?
There is a significant misconception around statistics for the MRCGP AKT. GP trainee candidates are told to learn and regurgitate all of the relevant statistical calculations. From my experience, knowing calculations is essential, but it only makes up a small part of what could come up in the exam!
To understand the evidence-based practice domain’s complexities, I have broken down the RCGP curriculum guide into six modules.
1. Methodology and study design – quantitative research
2. Methodology and study design – qualitative research
3. Definitions and Statistical concepts
5. Graphical representation of data
6. Population screening
If you’d like to master your evidence-based practice domain, I would highly recommend spending time grappling with the concepts. Unlike the clinical domain, it’s somewhat easier to predict the types of questions you may have in the two non-clinical domains.
One hundred sixty clinical questions are taken from 26 topic areas.
Twenty evidence-based practice questions are taken from a smaller pool!
How should I prepare for admin?
Do you feel that admin is a complete waste of time? The practice management domain reflects your life as a GP, which includes; the legal frameworks by which we practice, ethical dilemmas that we encounter, paperwork commitments and how we function as prospective employers.
An experienced GP will find this section relatively easy! The key is to prepare yourself as a future GP.
Speaking to your GP supervisor or your practice manager can help you prepare for your practice management domain.
The GP administration curriculum is an absolute monster. Whilst preparing for the MRCGP AKT, I used over 30 individual resources to cover the RCGP curriculum guide content.
To make this process easier for you, I have summarised the curriculum into five modules with summary videos and a thorough resource list for each module.
1. Improving quality, safety and prescribing.
2. Patient administration.
3. Ethics and governance.
4. National regulations and frameworks.
5. Practice management and leadership.
This takes us to the final question of this complete MRCGP AKT guide.
Should you use WellMedic.co.uk to prepare for your AKT?
The GP education space is very competitive and, I found myself in your exact position not so long ago. Unlike the traditional GP educators, WellMedic is a platform built with a process in mind. There is a very clear route to success with the WellMedic strategy!
✅ We are the fastest growing GP education platform in the U.K.
✅ Our courses give you the best value for money.
✅ Our courses give you unlimited access.
✅ We have helped 1,000s of GP trainees with their AKT preparation.
✅ We have grown to 12,000+ podcast listeners within twelve months!
✅ Our mean score for admin and stats is above 85%.
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