• Preparing for the SJT
  • Ranking jobs

What I will not cover is the actual process of FPAS as the FPAS website has great guidance that you should read through first. If after looking through the applicant handbook and you've had a flick through the presentation, you still have questions then there is a great FAQ available again on the FPAS website. 

Preparing for the SJT

How did I do?

I scored 43.11 which I was very pleased with. It was enough to secure my top ranked job.

Did I prepare?

Even though they say you can't, I did work towards it (but a lot of it was down to luck!). I used the "Get Ahead, The SJT" book as it suited my learning style best. The other two that are very popular are 250 SJTs and Oxford book but I felt that I couldn't learn as easily from them. The GMC Good Medical Practice is most definitely worth a read, but when you do focus on how it could be used to formulate questions.

The best resource however is the practice paper because it is the most trustworthy source. I did the paper 4 times in total. Once at the end of my fourth year to see what it involved, a second before any revision in my final year to identify my baseline, a third after revising using the resources above and finally one last time to consolidate and make sure I could get as near to 100% as I could. Really take your time to learn why each answer works.

What are my most important tips?

Overall when revising you should focus on 2 things

1) Understand what the question is asking: Why is it ranked/selected this way? Each phrase and word can massively change the question & answers. Learn what they mean!

2) Timing: It is a real problem in the exam even if you didn't think it was before. Between the stems being longer, it counting a lot more and the mark sheet is difficult - time very quickly runs out.
Practise using their mark sheet and being well within the time. Also understand that the statistics reveal a lot as to why people do poorly! About 15-20% make errors when filling out their answers and this can cost you very dearly. If an error, for example lost you the points in an entire question you could drop up to 2000 places or 3/50 points.

To understand this more look at this worked example: For example of the 70 questions, 10 questions are pilot therefore do not count. A ranking question is worth 20 points. If you accidentally forgot to mark or double marked in a way where you lost all 20 points, you could drop ~0.66 of a standard deviation (according to the 2017 scores) could be up to almost 2000 places or almost 3/50 points.

Any questions, please ask below!

Ranking jobs

About me:
I am an FY2 working in the same DGH on the edge of London for 2 years. I've listed my jobs in order below:
F1: General Surgery, Respiratory, Geriatrics (unbanded)
F2: Paediatrics, Obs & Gynae, Emergency Medicine

Knowing which deanieries & jobs to apply to is incredibly difficult. The things to think about are what is most important to you of the following factors?
  • Location
  • Specialty
  • Income
  • Difficulty
GMC Survey: The survey holds feedback for every post at FY level by hospital/specialty etc. It can easily highlight hospitals to potentially avoid due to very negative feedback.

Money/Location: These things are invariably linked. If you pick somewhere close to where you live you will save a lot of money on accommodation. You get up to an extra of £2,162 for working in London (which barely covers the cost of living in London!).
  • No on calls rota (formerly known as 'unbanded'): 40 hours per week and annual income of £26,350 (a.k.a basic salary)
  • On call rota (formerly known as 'banded'): 48 hours average per week with annual wage of ~£32,000 depending on how many on calls you do. 
These figures are up to date as of 2018 and can be found here. These figures are based on the "new" Junior Doctor Contract 2016 in England. After tax this equates to £1500-2300 per month.

On calls: On call frequency varies massively by hospital, but most have one job of three that is unbanded. Some hospitals (often those in London) don't allow F1s to do nights. Typically, you will be unbanded in specialty/supernumery jobs (e.g. paediatrics, O&G, anaesthetics). Thus, your total salary will usually be in between the figures quoted above.

Difficulty: The obvious advantage of an unbanded rota is having much more free time but at the expense of learning. On calls are much more difficult as you deal with emergencies rather than the day to day work of mostly administrative work on the wards. Certain jobs are always very busy: surgery, respiratory (especially during the winter) and frequently less well supported. The advantage of unbanded jobs are being able to take time to do audits, teaching and clinics - which is great in your final placement as they're necessary for specialty applications. Sometimes people do them early on to ease themselves into the FY1 life, although you may find yourself suddenly doing on calls in your second placement with little preparation (and with people expecting you to be competent as you're one placement in).

F1 vs F2: The roles of FY1s and FY2s is very different. The latter are additionally expected to be on take, help in clinics and sometimes hold the bleep for referrals. The FY1 to FY2 jump can be even more massive than the one from medical school to FY1. 

Specialties: All the above information guides you to how to pick specialties. If you know what career you want to do, then definitely pick that job but your experience of that job will vary depending on whether you do it as an F1 or F2. Furthermore, as specialty applications are in November of F2, only your first F2 placement is of any help. That said, many F1s and F2s will find that they aren't given the jobs they originally applied for depending on staffing requirements. You may switch from one surgical or medical specialty to another but very rarely will you completely change jobs. 

Type of hospital: Hospitals can also be split into DGHs or tertiary hospitals. Often you get much more experience in DGH hospitals as you get the normal conditions rather than super specialised stuff. This means you may get more opportunity to acquire new skills such as drains, lumbar punctures etc. However, if your interests are very specific than your specialty may only be available in the inner city hospitals. 

Key questions to ask F1s at a hospital you're considering are:
  • The availability & cost of accommodation
  • What jobs they recommend and which posts are banded/unbanded
  • Anything they highly recommend against
  • What opportunities are there in terms of courses and teaching
  • What is the social life like (in most hospitals this is usually great)

I hope that explains things I felt I wish I'd known before ranking jobs but if there's any more questions, please ask below!


17 March 2017 at 23:02 delete

Thank you very much for the great advice

13 March 2018 at 11:51 delete

Thanks so much! Handy practical advice, especially breaking down how the financial stuff works