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How I Passed MRCGP AKT at the Second Attempt: Dr Ify Okoronkwo

If you are a GP trainee preparing for your MRCGP AKT exam, this blog is a must to help you pass. We are lucky to have Dr Ify Okoronkwo – a GP trainee who recently passed her AKT at the second attempt – share her experience of how she prepared and eventually passed after failing first time around.

– Register for our next Free AKT Webinar here.
– Join the Arora AKT Telegram teaching group here.
– Start our most comprehensive AKT Ultimate Package here

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How I Passed MRCGP AKT at the Second Attempt: Dr Ify Okoronkwo


I sat the AKT exam for the first time in January at the end of my first ST2 placement and unfortunately failed. For someone who started preparation early enough I was quite surprised and frustrated with the result. 

How I Passed MRCGP AKT at the Second Attempt: Dr Ify Okoronkwo

AKT Attempt One

I had spent many months studying with commercial question banks and felt that the time and effort that I was putting in was more than enough to sail through. My main strategy at this point was to test myself on 50 to 100 questions from the bank per day, followed by reading the notes attached to the questions that I had got incorrect. I found that my scores kept bordering around the 55% to 60% mark with each test that I took. 

When I could squeeze in the time, I would read random topics from NICE guidelines and other recommended resources that I could lay my hands on. I had all the right tools, but was disorganised in my approach – much like a builder with all the bricks but no plan. 

In hindsight, I should have realised that there was a problem as I was not really improving as the weeks went by.  In the exam I also ended up with 60% – again in hindsight this also should not have been a surprise – but the disappointment was real.

After the initial phase of being shocked and sad at the results (with lots of ice cream and tears to accompany me), I knew it was time to get back to work. I am one of those people that take setbacks personally and saw this as a challenge that I would not back down from. However, I also knew that this time I needed a plan – because what good is motivation with no strategy?

How I Passed MRCGP AKT at the Second Attempt: Dr Ify Okoronkwo

AKT Attempt Two

I was not sure where or how to start. I was not even sure when I would next want to attempt the exam again. This exam is time consuming, tasking and far from cheap. 

I decided to reach out to Dr Arora with my dilemma and he was very kind to respond swiftly. He encouraged me to go 100% all in IF I was in the right headspace and felt that the time was right. He advised that I was not going to be starting from scratch this time, but that I was starting with a solid baseline of 60% – which actually is not bad at all. He also advised that I would probably need to put more structure into what I was doing this time – in essence have a plan and stick to it. That piece of advice was so pivotal to my success as the first step to getting anything done is believing that you can.

To put my reading in perspective I downloaded the latest free Arora Daily AKT planner to give some structure to what I was doing. This was so helpful as I was able to keep track of what I needed to do each day, thereby eliminating the mistake of random studying.

Also this time rather than just focusing on question banks, I did a mixture of studying and testing myself with the commercial banks (specifically Passmedicine and BMJ onexamination). 

For knowledge and studying I used the Arora clinical crammer online course as a guide for clinical learning, and built on weak areas with reviewing the NICE guidelines. The clinical crammer was helpful in highlighting so many topics that can easily be overlooked.

As I did this combination I started to see an improvement in my scores in fact almost a steady daily increase. Other resources that I used included the RCGP curriculum, RCGP exam feedback reports, RCGP self test, RCGP EKU, Arora 30 day challenge Youtube videos as well as other AKT related Youtube videos. I must mention though that the RCGP curriculum is large and it may be impractical to finish, so I gave more time to my weak areas and built on other aspects that I felt more confident in. 

By nature I am an audio-visual learner and I tried to incorporate this as much as was possible in my study time. If a concept was too abstract for me I would find a Youtube video to learn from, make charts or little diagrams about it. Mnemonics also became my best friend – I made mnemonics for all sorts of things which for me, was much easier than cramming lists of causes and side effects. 

In hindsight I also realise that for my first attempt I had been more focused on the clinical aspect of the exam and only studied admin and statistics when I was ‘less busy’ (the funny things we do as trainees!). Second time around I switched the script and gave extra focus to the admin and stats section. These were quite easy marks to gather and I was leaving nothing to chance. The Arora admin and statistics online package which I subscribed for was super helpful. For example the admin package became my bedtime story every night – I would go through this from start to finish for over a month. It definitely paid off as I scored 85% in admin. To get all of the Arora Online courses as part of the AKT Ultimate Package click here.

My final strategy was to join a small study group in order to revise topics and go over some volatile concepts.  This was extremely useful as it helped to consolidate things that I had studied during the day. Revising with peers brings a different angle to learning as you are forced to explain things in simple terms, testing that you fully understand a concept. It also helps bring back to memory things which you had studied but somehow forgotten. Also for me the study group was a good place to revise my (many!) mnemonics. 

I should also say that preparation was also made easier second time around by the fact I was in a less demanding rotation and had no personal stressful circumstances. This immensely contributed to my overall success.

How I Passed MRCGP AKT at the Second Attempt: Dr Ify Okoronkwo

My Suggestions

If you have failed the AKT recently and are considering retaking the exam, my suggestions would be:

  1. 1. Get over the failure quickly and be ready to try again. Cry if you must but believe in yourself once again. This is the most important step – if you think you can, you definitely will. This video may help if you are going through this right now…
  2. 2. Have some reflective time with yourself to figure out where you went wrong in your previous attempt. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Take time to to think this through thoroughly, and don’t be ashamed to ask for help and guidance from someone more experienced if you are struggling with identifying your weak points. I did this and it 100% paid off.
  3. 3. Have a structured plan for how you intend to prepare for the exam. Write/type/print this is possible. How do you intend to cover more ground in the same time? What do you plan to study each day? What topics will you start with? What areas are a problem for you? What kind of learner are you? Again, downloading the free AKT planners can help with this. 
  4. 4. Make a decision on which resources you want to use for preparation in good time. Make sure to get resources which would help you in all the 3 domains of the examination (I used all 3 Arora online courses for clinical knowledge, admin and statistics) – leave no stone unturned. Also have a mixture of resources for both knowledge and for questions. Stick to these resources and utilise them in an organised manner.
  5. 5. People are different and some people study better alone. However if you have struggles remembering things that you have studied, I’d highly recommend joining a small study group. 
  6. 6. Consider your personal circumstances. A particularly busy rotation may not be the best time to prepare for AKT.

Finally, did I mention this before? In case you missed it the first time – believe in yourself and keep on telling yourself that you can do it. The mind can work wonders if used in the right way. 

Dr Ify, GPST2

How I Passed MRCGP AKT at the Second Attempt: Dr Ify Okoronkwo

How Arora can help you Pass AKT

For our most comprehensive All-in-One AKT Ultimate Package click here

For all of our AKT Courses and Packages click here

To use our free day-by-day AKT Planners click here: Free AKT Planners

To register for our next Free AKT Booster webinar click here: Next AKT Webinar

To join the Arora AKT Telegram teaching group click here

Author Bio — Dr Aman Arora

Hello and welcome to Arora Medical Education! I am a Portfolio GP with a 24/7/365 passion for helping you fly through your medical exams and maximise your career. You can find out more about me here.

I’ve been fortunate to teach over 50,000 doctors globally through a combination of face-to-face, online, audio and social teaching, helping them pass exams such as MRCGP AKT and RCAMSRA and PLAB. You can find out more about my previous roles and qualifications here.

Feel free to contact me with any thoughts, questions or ideas to help you reach your potential. I look forward to meeting you soon!

Author Bio — Dr Pooja Arora

Dr Pooja Arora is a GP with a background in Medical Politics, where she passionately focuses on improving the opportunities and working conditions for junior doctors. She is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners).

You can find out more about Pooja’s previous roles and qualifications here.

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