Like every other exam there are a lot of rumors about the MDCN assessment Exam which often put many Foreign Trained Medical Doctors (FTMD) under pressure rather than assist in passing the exam. If you will be registering for the MDCN exam anytime soon, here are few things you need to know to help you with passing the exam.
Dispel False Myths
It is true that quite a number of people fail the exam, Infact the average pass rate is roughly 60%. If a candidate is not successful at the first attempt, the candidate will have the opportunity of making two more attempts at the assessment exam. However, anyone who fails at the third attempt will have to register at an accredited Nigerian medical school. The candidate will then have to study with final year medical students for a year before being allowed to make further attempt at the exam.
Considering the environment, a lot of things can be stressful with taking the MDCN exam. for example registering, attending the remedial course and preparing for the exam. For a lot of people, it can be quite unbearable not to be successful in the test, Infact not many people have the strength to reposition themselves to go through the examination process again after failing. Most times it is not because these Doctors aren’t hardworking enough but a lot of factors ranging from pressure, inadequate information about the exam, change in environment and improper exam approach are largely responsible for unsuccessful attempts.
MDCN exam comprises of four (4) main components; An MCQ (totaling 500 questions), Essay (Long and Short Answer Question), Identification of common clinical instruments (sometimes in form of a slide show) and a Clinical exam ( Long &Short cases or Objective Structure Clinical Exam,OSCE, – depending on the centre).
The MCQ pattern may be different from what you are familiar with from your school. Nigerian medical schools mostly use MCQ pattern that consist of a question with options that needs to be answered individually with True(T) or False(F). This is the MCQ pattern adopted by most centres for MDCN exam too. It is most likely that this is different from the question pattern of your school. All you need to do is get samples of these questions and answer them as many times as possible before the examination to be familiar with it.
After registering at MDCN office and settling down at the exam centre for the remedial course (four months program preceding the exam), one of the few things you need to do is make friends with other FTMDs. Should you arrive late for the program, you can ask your friends about what has been done already and what materials had been given.
Exam Success Tips
Although your schedule will be very busy (classes sometimes start at 7.30am), you must make out time to go through everything that has been done. It is important for you to understand that 90% of what will be asked during the test would have been discussed during the remedial program (Oops! …So yea that is true). So don’t joke with your classes (it can be stressful though).
Joining a study group is very important for a successful outcome. Doctors get to share materials, discuss topics, practice clinical skills, allay each other’s fears and support each other through the different study groups. From experience a group should be between 7-12 members, anything more than that might defeat the purpose of having a small platform for interaction. You should not be afraid of forming groups with people you do not know before as this will give you a rich experience. The key is diversity.
Make sure you understand how the clinical examination is done at your exam centre (there might be slight variation from what you have learnt in school). Usually your study group together can approach a resident-doctor to show you steps in examining the different parts of the body ( Chest, Abdomen, Nervous system e.t.c). Remember if you notice anything strange from what you knew before, please feel free to ask questions. Often there are reasons for variations. After observing the right approach, go over it in your mind again and get a partner to practice the different examinations on each other regularly.
Timing is very important especially for OSCE. You will have to learn to do your physical examination smoothly and accurately within a short period of time while paying attention to patient courtesy too. You might be required for example to introduce yourself and perform an examination within 5 minutes (OSCE). Don’t let this scared you, you will come out well with practice.
Having the right materials for the exam is just as important. Usually the consultants who will take you for the remedial course will give out power point presentation files that can help with studying after lectures. You will also come across some short books on clinical examination. These are very helpful too especially in juggling your memory but they should not be use to substitute recommended textbooks. Nigeria and Ghana have textbooks that are peculiar to their medical school, an example is “Principles and Practice of Surgery” by E.A Badoe. An equally important aspect is getting MDCN past questions and also review questions from the examination centre. Although questions are not likely to be repeated, solving past questions helps to build confidence, techniques, timing and familiarization with the exam concepts.
Above all, play (movies and hangout intermittently to keep you straight), sleep, eat well and pray hard (believe me you need God in this exam).