Book 22 July UKMLA PLAB 1 Live Crammer Course  Book Now 
  Book 22 July UKMLA PLAB 1 Live Crammer Course  
  • Award Winning for medical education
  • Over 10 Years of Teaching Experience
  • Interest-free Payments Up to 3 Instalments with PayPal
  • Excellent Trustpilot
  • Award wining for medical education
  • Over 10 Years of Teaching Experience
  • Interest-free Payments Up to 3 Instalments with PayPal
  • Excellent Trustpilot

How I passed my MRCGP SCA exam first time – Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

If you are a GP trainee preparing for your MRCGP SCA exam, this blog is a must to help you pass. We are lucky to have Dr Elissa Abi Raad – a GPST3 who recently passed her SCA exam – share her own experience of how she prepared and passed first time.

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

img 1

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad


Hello! I recently sat my MRCGP SCA in the January sitting. It was very daunting to prepare for this relatively new exam, and it felt risky for me as I was the first trainee to go for it in my practice and one of the early ones in my VTS. 

Luckily, I passed with a very good score and can now help others with tips and tricks on how to pass as well! 

To find out more about what the SCA exam is (and how to prepare in general), read our dedicated blog here.

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

General SCA thoughts

I can definitely say that the exam is very fair and is representative of real life general practice cases. 

The SCA comprises 12 scenarios – 12 minutes each – with a 10 minute break halfway through. 

Time pressure is no joke. You have to be able to switch from scenario to scenario and manage it as it comes. 

While preparing for the SCA I kept hearing the same advice from GPs: “seeing patients is the practice you need for the SCA”. While I agree with it to some extent, real life patients do not follow a scenario or a 12 minute timed consultation. In real life you often can’t control where things go – for example a question about their concerns might lead you down a rabbit hole that starts with a pneumonia admission on a cold winter evening in 1983 – perhaps not representative of an exam scenario!

Real patients of course do prep you in some areas – for example it can prompt you to look up particular guidelines and weak areas – but it does take extra focused practice outside of the workplace as well. 

Having said this I can safely say that I have seen all 12 cases that I got in the SCA at least once in real life patients – I feel that getting the balance between the two is important.

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

My own SCA Preparation

I started with real patients. I looked up and revised NICE guidelines each time my patients left the room – every single presentation non stop for a month. For me, repetition was key. I was able to manage whatever I got in the SCA relatively easily because the moment I recognised the condition, the management plan just came to my mind – extremely helpful in a timed examination. 

By knowing that the exam had 3 marked domains, I knew that by looking up the guidelines and correctly managing things clinically, I would have covered some of the Clinical Management and Medical Complexity domain. 

For my Data Gathering score, I have to give credit to the Arora Course. It gave me my golden structure that saved me several times during the SCA. The ‘three Arora bubblesare just what you need to stick to. I had these bubbles on the white board and I used it for all my scenarios, allowing me to ask targeted questions to help me get a diagnosis. 

My advice: Ask all 3 Arora bubbles in addition to focused questions in order to help you form a diagnosis. The ICE Bubble also helps to cover the ‘Relating to Others’ domain. 

One thing that I cannot stress enough is how important it is to acknowledge the information given to you during the reading time. Doing this properly will save you time as you do not have to ask the patient about what is already given to you. 

It is very useful to keep acknowledging and bringing back what the patient has already told you. For example “I know you asked about getting an MRI, but is there anything else you were looking for today? Just so we are both on the same page”. This shows that you were listening but also will help you predict any conflict with your management plan. 

In the month leading up to the exam, other than seeing patients at my GP surgery, I did daily Arora online cases with my friends. This built up my stamina and I realised day after day where my weak areas are and how I could improve.

The video course was also very helpful as the chapters helped me to ask all the information that I needed, as well as reflect and fine tune my structure and approach.

In the last weeks leading up to the exam, I made sure I was familiar with the platform used for the exam. I also made sure that I was doing my daily consultations in the same room that I was going to sit the exam in. My Supervisor and I made sure to choose a room that was far away from the waiting area and at the end of the corridor. I tested the internet connection, sound and video quality at least 4 times as I heard of failures during the exam. 

I cannot stress enough how helpful the Arora SCA Ultimate package was. 

Apart from giving me a lot of cases to practice, the 1:1 Mock exam was brilliant. I scheduled the Mock Exam exactly a week before my SCA – on the same weekday(!) and did it in the same room at my GP practice. This gave me more reassurance about the webcam, internet quality, and environment. I also used a whiteboard to write my structure and take notes on. The Mock was extremely helpful as it included an hour of focused feedback at the end. I used it to target some really important weak areas in the last days prior to me sitting the exam.

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

My Exam Day

On the day of the exam, I had to login before 8.45am. I gave myself plenty of time (maybe too much time) but I was at the GP surgery around 7.30am. 

As the room I picked was at the end of the corridor, I made sure to put a chair in front of my door blocking access with a sign saying “Do Not Knock, Exam In Progress”. 

The nurses and I also put up signs throughout the practice asking patients and staff to be quiet for the exam. I have to say, I am lucky to be in an extremely supportive practice where all the staff knew I was sitting the exam. I have never known a GP surgery to be that quiet – patients and staff were even whispering and walking quietly!

I also made sure to remove all posters from the walls. On my desk, I only had my passport, a whiteboard with two markers, tissues to wipe the whiteboard with and a water bottle. I opted to not take a BNF in with me as I knew I would not have time to look through it anyway. 

The ID check happened at 9.00am along with an environment check. I was then left waiting until the start of my exam at 9:45am. 

I would say the whole exam went really quickly. 

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

Final tips

My main tips for the actual scenarios are:

  1. Some patient notes are three lines, others are three pages! Do not get flustered – the notes are always available for you to read through them while speaking to the patient. But remember to acknowledge them! 
  2. Remember that each scenario is marked by a different assessor. So if you do not do well in one case, it does not reflect badly on the next. That being said, you can use the same ‘empathy’ line or the same way you ask about ICE in all of the scenarios, no one will know!
  3. Some Scenarios are complicated, whereas some are really simple and straightforward! I was really taken aback when a few scenarios seemed really simple to me and I kept digging trying to find “the trick” when there wasn’t any. 
  4. If you do not finish in 12 minutes, it does not mean you will fail the station. My highest mark was actually on a station where I did not finish on time! As long as you say the important things, you should be fine. This is also where the Arora 3 steps structure saved me, as I listed everything we needed to talk about before diving into each one. 
  5. You do not need to know the actual doses of medications but you do need to know the common ones that you use regularly in practice. 
  6. Know your management! Do not only focus on the first line treatment, you need to know the second, third, fourth… know how to escalate treatment and when to refer, especially the 2 week wait guidelines.  
  7. “Being Safe” is not enough to pass. Your management cannot be “I have to check and get back to you”. Only use this when you are really stuck but know that it may not be enough to pass the scenario. You need to manage whatever comes, however you can. Do not forget the non-medical management such as offering a fit note, social help, support groups, and leaflets. 

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

Final thoughts

I may sound wise now, but I was also terrified while preparing for the exam. 

Looking back, I definitely exaggerated. These are very fair scenarios and cases that we do deal with regularly. 

Just make sure you practice with your friends to find the perfect structure that works for you – and then stick to it! It will be over before you know it. Good luck!

How I passed My MRCGP SCA exam first time - Dr Elissa Abi-Raad

How Arora can help you pass SCA

Our most comprehensive SCA package is our SCA Ultimate Package – saving you time and planning. All of our SCA resources and material are included in this mega-bundle: SCA-145 Online video course, 3x SCA Audiobook courses, Live Mini-SCA Mock Exam session, Online Case Bank, Data Gathering Flashcards and Medical ‘How to Explain’ Flashcards. Access to all material is for 12 months allowing for a complete preparation plan. It will cover key aspects of SCA preparation – balancing both scoring high marks and effective time management, in 5 different teaching styles to suit each type of learning. Click here for full details and samples.

All of our individual SCA resources and packages are here.

To register for our next free SCA Booster webinar click here.

To join our SCA Telegram teaching group for daily teaching click here.

Author Bio — Dr Aman Arora

Dr Aman Arora is a GP who is now 100% committed to transforming medical education, helping doctors across the globe to ace their exams and enhance their careers. He is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners). Read more about Dr Aman’s journey here.

Previous roles include:

  • GP Training Programme Director
  • HEWM Advanced MRCGP AKT Trainer
  • GMC PLAB 2 Examiner
  • NHS GP Appraiser
  • MSRA Question-writer
  • GP Recruitment Examiner
  • HEWM IMG Board Member

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.

Other blogs that may interest you:

The MRCGP SCA (Simulated Consultation Assessment): What it is and how to Prepare

If you are preparing for the MRCGP SCA (Simulated Consultation Assessment) then this blog is for you! - Register for our next Free SCA Booster Webinar here - Join our SCA Telegram teaching group…

Read More

5 Powerful Ways to Maximise Your MRCGP SCA Practice

The SCA (Simulated Consultation Assessment) exam is one of the 3 components of MRCGP (the other two being AKT and WBPA). If you are reading this blog, you have likely a) started preparing for…

Read More

10 High Power Tips To Pass Your MRCGP SCA Exam

The SCA (Simulated Consultation Assessment) exam is one of the 3 components of MRCGP (the other two being AKT and WBPA). Being a relatively new exam, can understandably create a level of uncertainty and…

Read More