The most important thing is to answer the question.
Another statement of the obvious. Thank you cynical anaesthetist!
How many times does the exam report contain the phrases “candidates didn’t address the question”, “candidates responses contained irrelevant information”, “candidates only addressed one part of the question”?
No matter how obvious or intuitive it is to answer the question, candidates still make this very basic error far too often. It would undoubtedly be the commonest problem I encounter while marking practice (and actual) SAQs.
Some examples again from recent papers:
Discuss the potential adverse effects of suxamethonium– Don’t tell me what sux is or classify it. Don’t tell me what it is used for or how it works. Tell me about adverse effects.
Outline the hazards associated with the use of CO2 absorbents within a circle breathing system and how the risks can be minimized- Don’t tell us how absorbents work. Don’t tell me why they are in a circle circuit, tell me what the hazards are. If the question has two parts to it like this one, then if you just answer one part you can’t hope to pass the question. Half of the marks are for detailing how the risks can be minimized. More commonly if a question has several components it will be explicitly detailed how many marks relate to each part.
Outline how hyperventilation may reduce intracranial pressure– this is not an invitation to write down everything you know about intracranial pressure or cerebral blood flow or bang on about the Monro-Kellie doctrine at the expense of everything else. Nor do you want to tell the examiner what propofol does to intracranial pressure.
Compare and contrast the pharmacology of ephedrine and norepinephrine– a profoundly depressing thing is to realise you’ve compared adrenaline and noradrenaline which wasn’t asked for…. Yet this error was still made.
Resist the temptation to define every component of the question. Sure, if you’re asked about CSHT then you need to define it but if you’re asked a question about adverse effects of opioids then you don’t need to tell me what opioids are or what they are used for. Cut to the chase.
Vallecula posted recently about making the most of the perusal time https://primarydailylo.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/reading-time-make-it-count/ and I strongly endorse those comments. Read the questions when you are fresh and underline the key components. Jot down the main points. Answer the question that is asked. Answer every question.
Good luck (not that luck has anything to do with it).