PACES: Advice from past candidates

By Hannah Brown in MRCP PACES on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 @ 10:22

After the last PACES diet we asked all our PACES course candidates from London and Manchester, and all our PacesCases users what one piece of advice they would give to anyone preparing for the PACES exam.  Below you will find their top tips for PACES success.  Please add your own PACES exam advice in the comments!


Keep practising and hope for good luck.

Prepare yourself for thinking on the spot for something completely unexpected.  Otherwise just work on all the usual common stuff as everyone does.

You really need to examine as many patients as possible in hospital with other candidates.  You cannot prepare for this exam alone unlike part 1 and 2 written.

Focus on the top 20 list of symptoms.

You have to attend a practical PACES course just before the exam

Use all resources including attending PACES courses, do lots of practice with colleagues and see lots of patients under supervision of seniors who have recently made through PACES.  They will be able to guide you in a better way and improve your approach to preparations.

Revise with PasTest online revision PacesCases!!!!

Just revise and be confident.

Practise, practise, practise.

Focus on presentation.

Start preparing early.

Start preparing early.  See as many cases as possible.

Practise every day with a colleague preparing or taking the exam

Do a PACES course!

Keep on seeing patients, get grilled by consultants!!

Practise presentations over and over...and get someone to grill you.

Practise, practice, practice.

Stick to basics, and learn clinical medicine as if you are starting out as a clinical medical student again, but this time with the benefit of a few years' worth of practical experience.


Supervised practise of real cases and their presentation is the most important part of preparation for the PACES exam.

Practise with each other

Concentrate on clinical and practical issues

Practise time management

Practise examinations over and over again.

Word hard, it is a very slippery exam.

Practise, practise, practice.

Forget when examining that there is a examiner , much easier said than done!!!! Good luck to everyone.

To see as many cases as possible

Time management.

Course can help you to be better organized, rather than just teaching.

Preparation makes a big difference.

I found myself answering questions without thinking twice and retrospectively wondered where I managed to pluck the answers from. Somehow I get the impression that examiners don't necessarily know a lot about the topic they are examining and have quite a specific list of key words and phrases they hope to hear from the candidate. Yet by sounding somewhat confident, you can possibly shake that confident exterior that PACES examiners inevitably put on.

Dare I say, it is possible to be confidently wrong?
Practise, practise and practise makes perfect.

Take time to prepare. Do not rush. See as many patients as possible. Get out there on the wards.  You cannot learn all the skills required in a text book.

Take online PasTest and apply it the next day to your patients Ė youíll get good experience and knowledge.

See as many patients as possible in the hospital.

Ask your SpRs and Consultants to take rounds

I enjoyed the PACES course. 


Be calm at the exam 



PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE!!! Both examining patients, presenting and theory (knowledge base)

Be calm and confident

Practise makes perfect

Must see lots of patients

To study online PacesCases
Look at PacesCases

Practise station 5 a lot!

Form a group, see plenty of patients. Must go on a PACES course to reinforce, get feedback and see rarer cases which are not so rare in the exam. For station 5 have a technique to make sure you score points in all 7 areas in the new mark scheme, this is very important.

Practise on patients on the ward with a PACES buddy and go on at least one course.

Focus on the things that you feel most scared about!

Relax and you can make it

Practicing with others in front of consultants (ideally a few examiners) is the surest way to understand what is required in the exam.

Frequent case presentation in a group on daily basis

Practise and practise with a colleague

See as many patients and present as much as possible

Candidates should see more and more patients

Learn to recognize the signs that quickly point towards a diagnosis, which leads to a more focused examination, e.g. presence of an AV fistula is bound to be a renal case, inhalers/peak flow meter are likely to indicate COPD/asthma, Corrigan's pulse to be found in aortic regurgitation. In other words, start narrowing down the possibilities as soon as one walks into a station as this is primarily a diagnosis-driven examination. Some of the videos in PacesCases do show this, esp. with an initial overview of the patient or with photos/closeups as adjuncts.

See as many patients as possible. Favour this over book reading. Get people to watch you and give a viva so you are used to being watched and get the practise of presenting. When this isn't possible practise presenting common cases in front of the mirror. Definitely attend a course. They are expensive but very much worth it.

Practice with a friend and SpR's.  Time yourselves.

Donít fear the stations and just watch the time.

Read as much as you can, and practise as much as you study

You need to see as many cases as possible. Time management is paramount.  Practise practise practice.

Practising a lot in your clinical work.   PacesCases is useful. Attend a PACES course close to the exam.

Practise seeing patients on the wards - this is the best way to ensure success.

Attend a PACES course to get a feel of exam situation.


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