8 minutes….

With the exam rapidly approaching, I thought this would be a good time to address the 8 minute reading time. This is a time where you can read the questions and start planning your attack. You cannot write anything during this time, but you can have an internalised plan.

Easy things first…There are 15 questions to read during this time, read them well. There will be some repeat questions. Do not spend your 8 minutes thinking about the repeat questions. There may be questions that you think are repeats if you don’t read them properly so read them well!  There will be other new questions.  Some of these will be hard and one or two of them may seem impossible during the first read. Use your reading time to think about these new questions.

The things to ask yourself during this time are things such as “what are the key words in this question?” “WHY are the examiners asking me this question?” “WHAT about this topic is important?”. Vomiting an answer onto the page, without a plan or structure, does not fill the examiner with a feeling that you understand the topic. Whereas, if you have a structure to the question then the important points will hopefully follow. The better answers are often shorter than many of the other answers as they are efficient, and demonstrate that the candidate knows the topic well enough to know what is important.

When answering new questions, remember that this is an exam to enter anaesthetic training (more or less). Placing a whole bunch of random facts onto the paper will get you a few marks, but it won’t score you high marks. Stay calm, think about the question and have trust in yourself and the work you have done. Use the eight minutes to your advantage and think “structure, structure, structure (and handwriting!)”.

Good luck and stay strong!

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