You are aiming for a 3.
I am not trying to be obtuse. I am referring to scoring 3 out of 5 for each SAQ. As you know we are marking SAQs out of 5 using a ‘holistic’ grid. A mark of 2 equates to 40% and 3 equates to 60%. The grids are non-linear; i.e. get 0 if you write nothing, get 1 if write a little that is mostly nonsense, get 2 if you write a few relevant points and no major errors or write lots of points including several with errors. A ‘3’ is a pass and contains most (not all) of the relevant (main) points for a SAQ without major errors. A ‘4’ represents a very good answer incorporating significant detail and we can all dream about getting 5s.
The diagram above (histogram) comes from the most recent exam report and makes a very important point. I suspect you would get a very similar diagram if you used data from previous exams. Although the majority of candidates achieve the invitation mark for the vivas (40% or average of 2/5 for each question), the majority of candidates don’t actually pass (>50%) this component of the paper. To pass the exam overall you need more than 50%, so if you go into the vivas with just over 40% you need to score almost 60% to pass. Of course the candidate who achieved a just adequate SAQ result is unlikely to over achieve in the vivas. Consequently, most of those who failed the exam are in the 40-45% band above. If you go into the viva with 60% then you have an impressive buffer and I suspect none of those candidates failed the exam (I don’t know for sure but you get the gist).
You should get a 3 if you do all of the following:
- Answer the question that was asked (see Tip #4 tomorrow)
- Address the main points of the answer
- Don’t commit major errors
- Attempt every question on the paper- a blank paper is a crime
- Have attempted the question before– practiced it as per Tip #1.
You should be able to fit all the pertinent points on one page of paper, micrographia notwithstanding. It can be helpful to ask yourself- what is the clinical relevance of this question? Why is the examiner asking this question of anaesthetic trainees?