GP training: Tips to help you pass the AKT

Dr Patrice Baptiste offers some practical advice to GP trainees on how to prepare for the AKT exam.

Dr Patrice Baptiste
Dr Patrice Baptiste

The AKT results from the January sitting were released last week and I was delighted to have passed after a number of months spent revising diligently.

So, how did I do it? Below I list a few ways in which you too can pass the AKT.

Timing

Decide when it is right for you to sit the exam. This will depend on your current rotations and of course how busy the jobs are. However, it is possible to pass the exam during a busy rotation if you prepare early enough.

Advice from colleagues was to sit the exam in ST2 as it may be difficult when you have the added pressure of also preparing for the CSA. Therefore, despite a busy hospital rotation, I decided I would have nothing to lose if I booked the exam in my current ST2 year.

Do not underestimate the exam

Since I was working in a busy department I knew I would need to prepare well in advance. I decided to begin preparations just before I started my rotation.

Of course it depends on the type of person you are and how you prefer to study. For me, I revised for the entire duration of my first hospital rotation which was six months. I felt under less pressure and stress this way; I was also able to schedule other things around work and revision. In the final two months I intensified my revision; increasing the number of hours and questions I would answer.

Educate yourself about the exam

Before you begin revising, know the areas the exam will cover, how much time you have per question, how many questions there are and so on. This will give you a better idea of how to tackle your revision and the exam.

Nearer to the exam, read the information sent to you from the RCGP very carefully and practise the questions on the website. As with any exam, ensure you are rested as much as possible on the day (and night before), try not to learn anything new in the days before, keep a close eye on the clock and make sure you breathe!

Resources

Guidelines (NICE, SIGN) are imperative for the exam and for current practice. There are also a wide range of question banks online and offline resources such as books and magazines that are incredibly useful.

Of course, there are also courses you can attend. Whilst I’m not going to recommend any resources here, it’s definitely worthwhile speaking to colleagues who have passed to determine what they felt was helpful. Incorporate this into your plan for passing the AKT.

Know what other support is available

At my trust I was allowed discretionary study leave to revise and sit my exam, which was invaluable. I also saved a proportion of my annual leave which I used to revise. So, in addition to speaking to other registrars, make sure you speak to your supervisors and programme directors to know what you are entitled to.

Stay positive and motivated

It was unbelievably difficult working full time, revising and trying to have a social life. Whenever you prepare for an exam it is crucial you schedule time to relax which may be an hour meeting a friend, going out to dinner with family, exercising or meditation. All of this will help you to remain positive and motivated during a challenging time.

So, those are my tips. If you prepare well you will pass!

  • Dr Baptiste is a ST2 GP trainee in Romford, Essex

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