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250 pp Price £24.95 ISBN 1-85315-527-6
London: RSM Press .
Who led the Scottish forces at the Battle of Ancrum Moor?
This—in case you are wondering—is a best-of-five question. There is a stem with five options, only one of which is correct. The others are distractors which are wrong though plausible. The idea is that you have to have a reasonable grasp of Scottish history to answer the question correctly.
Get Through the MRCP Part 2 contains 360 such best-of-five questions. It has six mock papers with 60 questions in each—as in the actual exam. In ‘Membership books’ the introduction often contains dubious tips about how to answer multiple choice questions; for example, always choose the longest answer. Such tips are about as reliable as ones you hear at Cheltenham races. Aruna Dias steers well clear of them and instead lays out how the exam has changed in recent years; for example, negative marking is now a thing of the past. Thus, blind guessing will earn you 20%, but that is unlikely to be enough to get you a framed certificate on your wall. In fact all parts of the Membership have changed a lot in the past few years. The oral exam is long gone: examiners can no longer grill candidates about emergencies, evidence-based medicine and chronic disease management. Instead these topics must be tested in the written paper and Dr Dias has done a good job of including them.
And what about the questions and answers themselves? They are excellent. The text has been edited by Eric Beck, former chief examiner of the Royal College of Physicians, and this undoubtedly helped a lot. There are only a few clangers. The author occasionally asks trick questions such as ‘the drug that would not be used to treat this illness is’ and then asking the candidate to choose between five possible options. When you see a patient, you do not start thinking about what treatment you would not give them. So why test juniors’ knowledge in this way? But the bottom line is: will it help people pass the exam and should I recommend it to my juniors? The answer to these questions is yes and yes.
In case you are still wondering, the Scottish forces at the Battle of Ancrum Moor were led by Angus. Successfully.