MBBS5 Tips & FAQ

Welcome to the FAQ page for MBBS5. For other years please look here.

Ask any questions below that you have on the exams! Also leave your tips on the year, for students to come and answer other people's questions.

A full list of useful textbooks used can be found at the bottom of this post. I recommend borrowing them over purchasing them. That said, I get money if you use purchase them through the Amazon links below (which helps fund the website/apps/books). Thanks guys!

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Prescribing Safety Assessment: I recommend Pass the PSA which I found helpful as it covers each section of the PSA with good examples and practice questions. However, the best resource is the official website which contains great mock papers!

Overall the OSCEs are much harder than the writtens so make sure you spend a LOT of time on the OSCEs! I can't emphasise enough how much time they require!

Writtens: Surgical Talk is the ideal textbook to revise Surgery as this has concise information aimed at medical student level. It goes into more detail than you need to know so don't feel the need to have to memorise everything and focus on common conditions - these you should know inside out! By this I mean things such as gall bladder conditions, common bowel conditions and common post operative complications.

As for medicine, the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine is the best source. There is a focus on the general medical topics: gastroenterology, respiratory, neurology, endocrine and cardiology. Thus for topics like paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology only revise things you'd expect a GP or A&E doctor to know. Don't forget to revise the side effects of common drugs (although you'll probably be an expert already after the PSA!).

To give you an idea of what you might need to know I give examples below (for each you should know the presentation, diagnosis, management etc. as listed in the Oxford Handbook):

  • Gastroenterology: inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Neurology: Nerve palsies, strokes, sensory/motor conditions
  • Endocrine: Thyroid, Diabetes, Addison's, calcium disorders
  • Cardiology: heart failure/cardiomyopathies, MI and subsequent complications, arrythmias, hypertension
  • Dermatology: skin cancers, psoriasis, eczema
  • Geriatrics: fractures, dementia, stroke etc.
  • ENT: ear & throat infections
  • Respiratory: asthma, COPD etc.
  • Gynaecology: ectopic pregnancies, contraception
  • GUM: HIV, STDs
  • Haematology: blood cancers, sickle cell
  • All emergencies from every specialty

The list is above is nowhere near exhaustive but gives examples of common conditions in each area!

OSCE: Whilst Masterpass is helpful, it doesn't contain sufficient detail for final year. I found using Macleod's and Cases for Paces very helpful. Both are great for examination stations, the latter teaching you how to really come across as polished. Another great book that I used in third year, because of the sheer number of quality cases, actor briefs and mark schemes, is this book which I highly recommend. And of course, I recommend this website and my OSCE app (I'm clearly biased), as it covers many of the potential stations in the OSCE.

The best way to revise though is practising each and every station.

For the histories, it is very similar to third year except that you're expected to perform the station at a higher standard asking key questions rather than just a blanket every associated symptom you can think of. Think of it like you're the FY1 in Surgery/Medicine and a person has either come into A&E or has deteriorated on the ward because you really will get actors who are in bed clutching their abdomens etc. You'll be given their examination findings and you can use this to list and support your differentials as well as recommend appropriate investigations and escalation. For the surgical histories, it is important to be able to recognise common surgical presentations and emergencies such as ectopics, AAA, bowel conditions (e.g. obstruction but also querying the cause, appendicitis) and post op complications such as chest infections. Similarly, in medical histories consider presentations not just from the general bank (Respiratory/Abdominal/Cardio) but from the wider net including diabetic, collapse, meningitis/SAH etc. Finally, don't forget to do plenty of practice for the psychiatric histories which could be any of them (especially as you'll likely have forgotten them after so long!).

In the general examinations you will very likely have signs so make sure you practice nonstop on real patients. Use books like Cases for Paces and this differentials listed in this website to support your disagnoses. The difference from third year is you're expected to be able to do the examination slickly and present succinctly and brilliantly. Move on from presenting every positive and negative, to knowing what is and isn't relevant in your presentation.

The communication stations are where people often have the most difficulty. I found going through the NHS choices and patient.info websites for common operations, medications that you have to explain very helpful at knowing what questions are common from actors. The advanced communication stations require you to really explore ICE, there will often be a lot of layers to the scenarios which you will only find out through thorough exploration and empathy.

Finally the practical stations can often catch people out. Particularly things like the syringe driver and reconstituting IV drugs so do spend some time just practising these stations.

For information on each book, hover over the book and read my comments!

If you don't see a list of books above, you may need to disable your ad blocker. Finally if you have any questions, please just ask below!


22 September 2016 at 12:00 delete

Hi Akash,

Do you have any advice for the SJT? Which books/courses do you recommend?


2 April 2017 at 17:49 delete

Hello! I've been finding your website really useful, and I had a question I hoped I could ask. I've heard very different things about final year exams. Some have said its fine and one you're through 4th year you're ok, some have said the osce is a big step up from 4th year. If that's true, i'm really wondering what the big difference between a final year history and 3rd year history is. Is it really just the 45 second 'management' section at the end? This has been on my mind a lot
so i thought i should ask!

2 April 2017 at 18:03 delete

Hi :) Thanks for your awesome feedback. The answer to your question is included in the above body. If I've missed anything, please comment :) And also please share the website if you find it useful!

5 September 2017 at 22:00 delete

Check out http://osce-stations.blogspot.co.uk/p/fpas.html