Whilst engaging in clinical practice is the clearly the starting point for the MRCP exams (as seeing and managing clinical disease is an excellent route to understanding disease), the MRCP part 1 exam delves into the clinical science underpinning health. Success in the part 1 requires review of the core principles that may not have been looked at since the early years at medical school. As such, returning to text books is likely to be essential. However, simply reading comprehensive text books on medicine is unlikely to be sufficient. In addition, there is a skill to be learnt in answering ‘College’ style best-of-five questions. Practice at sample questions is therefore vital.

Combine past questions with reading texts / online materials. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine is a wonderful resource, and investing in a copy of one of the great texts such as this will support your journey through medicine, whichever speciality you end up in. UpToDate is an exceptional tool if you have access.

Practice past questions slowly. Read explanations carefully. Don’t skip questions you think you recognise. Always pay attention to the wrong answers (why were the incorrect options there in the first place? are any diseases listed you have not heard of?).

Use your knowledge at work. Ask questions on ward rounds about disease mechanisms, physiology, anatomy, biochemistry… and if a patient you see has a diagnosis you are not familiar with – LOOK IT UP. If you see a disease first hand, you are far more likely to recall it in the future.

Ultimately – remember that life as a physician is an unending task of learning. Healthcare is changing rapidly, and the growth of medical knowledge is exponential. However, there is absolutely no doubt that the more you know, the better equipped you will be to look after your patients – and the more you will enjoy your career!