MRCP PACES exam day [18 essential tips]

The process of preparing and going through the MRCP PACES examination can be a nerve-racking experience.

We know we’ve been through it ourselves.

Apart from ensuring that you have the learnt all the clinical knowledge you can there are some practical things you can do to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to sit your exam.




1. Register early. Demand for sitting the MRCP PACES is high, and spaces are limited. By registering early you can plan your revision to fit the exam schedule and reduce the risk of missing out on getting your desired time slot.

2. Start revising early. Typically four to six months of hard work is required to prepare adequately. Although some pass with less preparation time, don’t risk it. We recommend starting as early as possible on practising, rehearsing your presentation skills and reviewing common clinical conditions found in the MRCP PACES examination.

3. Check the regulations. Available at the RCP website.

4. Carry your admission documents. Print out your admission documents and carry them in a document folder on the day of your exam for reference.

5. Plan your route. Either book a taxi for the morning of the exam or plan ahead very early – particularly if you have to get to the exam venue in rush hour.

6. Be prepared. Your exam will not be in the same town as where you work. Expect to travel. Ideally travel down a day ahead and stay in a hotel or B&B the night prior to your exam to reduce the risk of travel disruption.

7. Be very prepared. Don’t just bring one set of exam clothes and shoes. In case of disaster or mix-up, bring two.

8. Avoid alcohol the night before. Sure, you’ll be nervous but don’t impair your chances by turning up with a hangover.

9. Go to bed early the night before. By this point in the run up to your exam, a good night’s sleep is going to be more use to you than a couple extra hours spent cramming.

10. Avoid too much caffeine on exam day. Some people get a tremor with excessive caffeine that can be exacerbated by nervousness. You want to minimise the extent to which you appear nervous so consider cutting down on the coffee.

11. Dress professionally. What does this mean? Generally candidates should wear clothing similar to what would be expected on a ward. This may include being bare below the elbow and nothing too likely to alarm your grandmother.

12. Arrive early. Get to your exam venue at least an hour before your exam start time.

13. Declare your equipment. Show the host any special equipment you hope to use before your exam – for example amplifying digital stethoscopes need to be tested by the examiners on the patient before you use them to determine what is fair to expect you to pick up clinically.

14. Bring photo ID to your exam. For most people this will be a passport or driving licence. More details about what is permissible can be found here.

15. Leave valuables behind. Most exam centres will offer a secure room for your phone and valuables, but to be safe it is inadvisable to bring large amounts of cash. Take just enough as a contingency for a taxi and refreshments.

16. Mark sheet madness. While you’re waiting to start you’ll be given 16 mark sheets. Be prepared to enter your examination number, name and centre number on each one in the time prior to starting.

17. Chat to other candidates. Once you’re in the exam centre you will still have a large amount of time before being called to start. This will be a lot less painful if you can take your mind off things by chatting with the other candidates than if you sit ruminating on everything that can go wrong.

18. Plan a treat for yourself. You’ve worked hard and given PACES your best shot.  You deserve something to look forwards to when you come out of your exam.

All these things help make the day of your PACES exam run smoothly so you can concentrate on showing how good your clinical skills are.