The GP Stage 3 Assessment: What it is and How to Prepare

If you are preparing for the GP Stage 3 Assessment, this blog is for you!

What it covers:

✓ What is the Stage 3 Assessment
✓ Simulation Exercises
✓ Written Exercises
✓ What is being Assessed
✓ The Clinical paper
✓ How to prepare
✓ How we can help you Prepare
✓ My own experience of Stage 3
✓ Finally a positive note…

What is it & What to Expect?

The Stage 3 GP Entry Assessment is the final part of the GP Entry assessment process. It occurs after the Stage 2 assessment – for details on Stage 2 click here.

In this blog I will go through what is involved on the day, as well as the competencies that your being assessed against when you reach that day itself.

Let’s start with that the day involves. Remember it doesn’t matter what happened at stage 2 – this is a completely new situation where assessors don’t have access to your CV or to your application. Treat it as a great opportunity to show your potential as a trainee GP.

There half-day consists or three simulation exercises and one written exercise.

Simulation Exercises

You’ll take part in three ten-minute ‘mini consultations’ in three different situations:

1. You will be consulting with a patient for ten minutes.
2. You will be consulting with a relative or carer of the patient for ten minutes.
3. You will be consulting with a non-clinical colleague for ten minutes.

No direct clinical knowledge is tested and there will be no need to carry out an examination.

Written Exercise

This is a thirty-minute prioritisation task exercise. You will be given five tasks and your job is to prioritise or rank them, justifying why you have put them in that particular order.

An example:

It is Thursday morning and you are a GP trainee coming to end of your clinic. You need to leave to give evidence at coroner’s court in one hour. The following jobs below remain outstanding. You have 30 minutes to:

1. Rank each issue in the order that you plan to deal with them.
2. Justify your decisions and describe how you intend to manage them.
3. Reflect on the challenges that this exercise brought about.

a) Your practice nurse asks you to see a patient who has fainted whilst having his ear syringed.
b) A counselor is on the phone waiting to speak to you about a patient who you have referred them to assess.
c) Your father sends you a text message asking you to call him when you are free.
d) Your clinical supervisor asks you to come to their room as there is a patient who has ‘interesting knee signs’ who is happy for you to examine them.
e) A consultant from your local hospital has left a message to call them as soon as hospital.

What is being assessed?

There are four competencies that are being assessed across the four exercises:

1. Communication skills: Can you demonstrate appropriate communication during your interactions? Can you adapt things like behaviour and language according to the situation or scenario in front of you.
2. Empathy and sensitivity: Not just is ths happening, but is this happening appropriately. Are you seeing things from the perspective of the other side? Are you showing appropriate understanding of their situation?
3. Conceptual thinking and problem solving: Essentially thinking outside box and analytical thinking. Are you able to think about solutions? Are you demonstrating a solutions-orientated approach? Are you flexible in the way that you think and deal with different situations?
4. Professional Integrity: Asseses areas such as taking responsibility. Do you respect others appropriately? Are you handling the situation in a professional manner?

How to Prepare:

Of course this is not one of those assessments where you can simply read a book and suddenly feel prepared – practice will play a large part in preparation – both of simulations and written prioritisation.

One thing I would say however is don’t end up with a pre-rehearsed and rigid frame of mind, or having lines and techniques ‘learned’.

This type of approach shows inflexibility and will appear unnatural – probably opposite to how you are in real life. Be confident – you talked to relatives, patients and colleagues for many years and know how to do it already.

It is more about thinking calmly on the spot and practicing situations where you have to think on your feet and be adaptable in your approach.

How can we help you prepare best?

1) Our Immersion Stage 3 Day Course (Birmingham and London). An intense day with only 7 other doctors. All teaching and feedback by myself.16 role-play scenarios as well as mock written prioritisation. Strong focus on communication skills, thinking flexibly and problem-solving.“I got a great score in Stage 3 and it was fully due to your course – thanks Dr. Aman!

2) Our Medical ‘How to Explain’ Audiobook Course: 220+ medical conditions, diagnoses, tests and investigations explained in simple terms. Improve the quality of your simulations by breaking down explanations into patient-friendly language. Designed to listen to again and again and in a variety of situations e.g. travelling, at the gym etc. Click here for details.

3) Our free teaching and support through Social Media: plenty of daily teaching through our Flagship GP Training Facebook Support Group, YouTube channel and Instagram page.

My own experience with GP Stage 3

Apart from going through the GP Recruitment myself as a candidate, I am also a previous assessor for this assessment – I therefore can not teach past scenarios or cases.

Throughout my time as an assessor and educator I have seen many common challenges faced by candidates in their preparation – I aim to help enhance commuincation skills, confidence and understandng of how to enter this challenging assessment in the best frame of mind as possible.

Finally on a Positive Note…

Finally to end on a positive note, most doctors can and do pass GP Stage 3.

Just like any assessment it takes good planning, constructive preparation and a positive mindset – things that can significantly help boost confidence before you enter that assessment centre!

Good luck!


Dr. Aman Arora

Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

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Dr. Aman Arora

About Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

Former GPVTS Programme Director

Former NHS GP Appraiser

Former GMC PLAB 2 Examiner

Fellow of Royal College of GPs (FRCGP)

Former HEEWM Advanced AKT Trainer

Running Exam Prep courses for 10 years

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