Are recalls setting you up for exam failure?

Doctors preparing for their AMC clinical exams appear to be conducting an endless search for recalls. Given an AMC pass rate of only 31.1% (Department of Health, 2016) the effectiveness of recalls may be called in to question. It’s not hard to draw a link between the two: is the exclusive use of recalls preparing you for failure?

The allure of recalls is understandable. By looking to past exam cases, you can (in theory at least) learn how to approach a station, learn what you are meant to say and what you are meant to do. Simple. So, why isn’t it working?

The problem is that you are only learning to remember scenarios. You are not learning how to treat the patient in front of you. Why does that matter? Because the objective of the exam is not to test your memory.

If the exam was to test your ability to remember and recall cases, you would see wonderful, ever-climbing pass rates. But the exam asks for you to think for yourself. To solve the problem presented in front of you. To analyse the situation and prepare a safe, patient-centred consultation in the Australian context. In short, you are being asked to problem-solve.

Recalls are certainly not useless. Their strength lies in their ability to generate discussion and thinking, for example in a study group. For this purpose, they are extremely worthwhile. It all depends on how you use them.

Remembering vs Understanding

Recalls require you to remember cases. The exam requires you to solve problems. You need to learn how to analyse, question, critique and evaluate. You don’t need to remember 100 different cases, you only need to learn one systematic approach that you can apply to all of your consultations. It is by learning this approach that you will be able to demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

You need to prove that you can think for yourself, see the patient in front of you, consider the needs and tasks at hand, prepare a plan, and implement it.

So, why not learn how to apply a systematic consulting approach? You should be sure to learn an approach that is safe, patient-centred, to Australian standards, and which allows you to show an examiner that you can think for yourself.

AOGP has been working with IMGs for close to 15 years, and has assisted hundreds of doctors across Australia to prepare for their Fellowship and AMC exams. Our approach differs significantly to others. We don’t use recalls – you can find them for yourself. As a professional education organisation, AOGP teaches safe, patient-centred consultation systems and approaches. We train you to think for yourself, problem solve, and consult effectively so that you can treat the patient in front of you successfully, no matter what case you are presented with.

We believe that if you prepare well, you will pass.

You can find an exam preparation program to suit your needs on our events page, or call us on 08 8366 3100 to speak with someone directly.

Anita Adlam