How to prepare for MRCP Part 1 (Written Exam)

Our MRCP Part 1 doctor’s guide has been created to provide you with the relevant information to help you prepare for your MRCP exam. You will gain Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP) once you have passed all three MRCP exams. 

What is the MRCP exam?

The MRCP exam has been developed by the Royal Colleges of Physicians in the United Kingdom (MRCP UK). The Royal College of Physicians develops and delivers examinations and qualifications around the world.

The MRCP exam is designed to test the skills, knowledge, and behaviour of doctors in training. You need to pass MRCP Part 1, MRCP Part 2 and PACES to become a Member of the Royal College of Physicians. In addition, passing all three parts of the MRCP(UK) examination is now a requirement for entry into specialist training in the UK.

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Requirements for MRCP Part 1 

The MRCP(UK) Part 1 is the entry-level exam accessible to doctors with a minimum of 12 months’ postgraduate experience in medical employment. It is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the clinical sciences relevant to medical practice as well as common or important disorders to a level appropriate for entry to specialist training.

What is the format of the exam? 

The exam, which can be taken online or in an exam centre, has a two-paper format. Each paper is 3 hours in duration and contains 100 multiple-choice questions in a ‘best of five’ format. This means there will be five options, one correct answer and four alternatives. The alternatives will be close enough to the correct answer to be plausible, but you will need to choose the best answer of the five possible options to be awarded one point.

In 2020, an online version of the MRCP Part 1 exam was introduced and is available for candidates within the UK and the Republic of Ireland. All other candidates will be tested in test centres.

MRCP part 1 exam dates

Application periodExam date (results by)
7th – 14th November 202225th January 2023 (8th March 2023)
13th-20th February 202319th April 2023 (31st May 2023)
30th May-6th June 20239th August 2023 (13th September 2023)
14th-21st August 202318th October 2023 (29th November 2023)

How much does it cost? 

At the time of writing, the exam is priced at £460 for UK-based candidates and £616 for international candidates.

How do I register? 

You will need to apply through your MRCP (UK) account. Please make sure you read all of the information and criteria on the website before applying and paying for the exam.

What is the MRCP part 1 pass rate? 

In 2021 there were 5 examinations taking place and a total of 10,865 sitting candidates (some of those sitting more than once). Out of those 10,865, 1,788 declared they were in UK training. Candidates who did not declare their training details were reported as ‘Other candidates’ (9,077).

According to the data available from the 2021 MRCP Part 1 exam results, the pass rate was:

  • UK trainees on their first attempt had a pass rate of 49.4% (171/346)
  • Other candidates on their first attempt had a pass rate of 54.5% (3,811/6992)

More information on MRCP Part 1 pass rates are available in the MRCP(UK) Part 1 2021 performance report.

How to revise for MRCP Part 1

How can I prepare for MRCP Part 1?

There are numerous resources available online and that can be printed for free along with some paid services. We have researched the official MRCP recommended resources, asked our doctors and read anecdotes from doctors who have completed MRCP Part 1 to find out which resources they found most useful and similar to the exam. Here are some of the best resources we have found.

What clinical experience will help me prepare for MRCP Part 1? 

The MRCP recommends that all candidates prepare for the examinations by gaining clinical experience in hospital posts involving the care of emergency medical patients, whether adults or children.

They also recommend that you study up-to-date postgraduate clinical textbooks and current medical journals. The examinations are mapped to the UK core medical training curriculum / internal medicine training. Knowledge of this, and UK national guidelines, should form part of your preparation for the examinations.

What preparation courses are available? 

There are several courses available that are designed to help you prepare for the MRCP(UK) examinations. These preparation courses are run by the three Colleges that make up the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom and are delivered in a range of formats.

Whilst the content in these courses is valuable, it is worth mentioning that numerous doctors have passed MRCP Part 1 without them You can learn more about the courses available here.

How long does it take to prepare for MRCP Part 1? 

Most doctors who passed MRCP Part 1 on their first attempt recommended dedicating 3-4 months of revision before the exam including daily question banks or mock paper questions of 30-100 questions. Allow time towards the end of your study period to revisit any of the questions you got wrong on your first try.

What MRCP Part 1 preparation books are recommended? 

Whilst most doctors have indicated they spent more time practicing with question banks, the below books were recommended on multiple occasions to map out your revision.

  • MRCP Part 1 book by Pastest
  • Essential Notes for MRCP by P. Kalra

What sample questions are available for MRCP Part 1

There are quite a few excellent MRCP Part 1 question banks including PassMedicine, Pastest, and BMJ OnExamination. Most of the testimonials from doctors who have passed MRCP Part 1 recommend PassMedicine due to its excellent bank of information, the questions and format being relevant to the exam and because it is good value for money.

Practice MRCP Part 1 Exam

You can review sample questions here

Top tips for revision

  • Most doctors who have passed cited question banks as their number one resource when revising and preparing for the MRCP Part 1 exam.
  • Map out your revision topics before you start so you can allocate time to spend on each area and any subspecialties within that topic.
  • Make notes as you go through to digest the information and then refer to your notes when refreshing your mind on topics already covered.

At A&E Agency, we’re passionate about the quality of our people and proud of the services we provide. If you need information or guidance with your MRCP Part 1,register today with Pulse. Our team are here to help doctors find great work opportunities in the UK. We recruit across a range of sectors such as A&E, anaesthetics, obs & gynae, paediatrics, and more.

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