The MSRA Assessment: What it is and How to Prepare

What it covers:

✓ What is the assessment?
✓ What to expect
✓ How it is used in GP entry
✓ The SJT paper
✓ The Clinical paper
✓ How to prepare
✓ How can we help?
✓ On a final note…

What is it?

The Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA – also known as SRA) is a computer-based assessment and forms part of application for UK postgraduate training in the following specialities:

✓ General Practice
✓ Radiology
✓ Psychiatry
✓ Ophthalmology
✓ Obstetrics and Gynaecology
✓ Neurosurgery
✓ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
✓ Community Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (CSRH)

Each speciality utilises your MSRA result in a different way – it is worth looking at the individual specialty websites (for example GP Training) for further information.

For the purposes GP Training application, the MSRA is also called Stage 2 – it can be taken at various centres across the UK. Stage 3 is the follow-on face-to-face assessment (details of this can be found here). For a full overview of getting into UK GP Training read our blog here.

Your MSRA result lasts for the duration of the recruitment year in which it is taken (the recruitment year is from November to October) – it can not be carried over into the following recruitment year and will have to be retaken if application occurs again in the next recruitment year. You can resit MSRA within the same recruitment year if you are unsuccessful in an attempt.

What to expect:

✓ The assessment consists of two types of question: a) clinical questions and b) professional dilemma questions
✓ All questions are in multiple choice format.
✓ The Professional dilemma paper (SJT) consists of 50 Situational Judgement Test questions in 95 minutes – this paper occurs first. See below for more details and example questions.
✓ The Clinical problem solving paper (CPS) consists of 97 clinical questions in 75 minutes – this paper starts 2 minutes after completion of the SJT paper. See below for more details and example questions.

✓ There is a 5 minute break between papers (countdown appears on screen).
✓ There is a countdown timer for each individual paper on the screen.
✓ The total duration of the assessment is just under 3 hours (175 minutes including break).

GP Entry – How is the MSRA score used (see individual specialty websites if aplying to a different speciality)

✓ Your MSRA score counts 60% to your final application score (and of this, 20% is made up of clinical paper and 40% is made up of the professional dilemma paper).

✓ If you reach the minimum required score for MSRA you become eligible for the Stage 3 assessment.

✓ If your total score is 550 or above, you will be exempt from Stage 3 – a direct offer for GP training is given (represents the top 25-30 percentile of applicants).

Professional Dilemma SJT Paper

✓ Paper duration: 95 minutes
✓ Number of questions: 50
✓ Assesses 3 core competencies: a) Professional Integrity, b) Coping with Pressure, c) Empathy and Sensitivity – covered in our MSRA SJT Principles Audio course.
✓ Assesses how someone behaves when posed with a potential professional dilemma at work. Your ability to judge the situation and decide how to approach it No clinical knowledge is assessed.
✓ There are two types of question: ranking questions (where you need to rank the appropriateness of 4 or 5 potential actions from most to least appropriate) and multiple-choice questions (where you need select three actions that are most appropriate from a list of 8 possible answers).

msra summer crammer audiobook coverClinical Paper

✓ Paper duration: 75 minutes
✓ Number of questions: 97
✓ Assesses your ability to apply clinical knowledge to help make clinical decisions – it is not a test of pure knowledge.
✓ Questions can assess 5 core competencies: a) investigation, b) diagnosis, c) emergency, d) prescribing, e) management.
✓ 12 clinical topic areas are included – all covered in our MSRA Clinical Audiobook Course:

– Cardiovascular
– Dermatology/ENT/Eyes
– Endocrinology/Metabolic
– Gastroenterology/Nutrition
– Infectious/Haematology/Allergy/Genetics
– Musculoskeletal
– Paediatrics
– Pharmacology and Therapeutics
– Psychiatry/Neurology
– Renal/Urology
– Reproductive
– Respiratory

✓ There are different types of question including:

  • Extended matching questions – EMQ (chose the single most appropriate answer from a choice – answers relate to several questions)
  • Single best answer – SBA (choose the single most appropriate answer from a choice – answers relate to a single question)
  • Multiple best answer – MBA (choose 2 or 3 most appropriate answers from 6-8 options).

How to Prepare:

From my own experience with doctors preparing for MSRA there are two main chosen approaches – question-bank based and ‘formal revision’ based – and I am often asked which is best.

My simple answer is that relying on one method alone can leave you a little short. No question bank can cover every aspect of the MSRA, whilst purely reading books and guidelines will not give your brain adequate exposure to problem-solving.

If planned well, both should be used hand-in-hand as both have advantages in terms of improving retention and performance.

Making optimum use of time is important – using travel time to answer a few questions here or there, or listen to a chapter of our MSRA Clinical Crammer Audiobook or MSRA SJT Principles Audiobook courses for example, can add to the formal preparation time that you sit down to do.

Another very common question that I get asked is ‘which question bank should I use?’ I have not had experience of all banks on the market but all I would say is try and have some variety.

Often doctors rely on only one question bank and get very used to a certain style of question-writing – doing the same style of question 2-3000 times is bound to trigger your brain to think in a certain way and it can be very confusing when another ‘style’ is suddenly encountered in the exam.

Whether you purchase two question banks, or whether you simply hire a few SRA question books from the library, try to at least use two sources.

For our full MSRA Exams to boost your scores click here.

How can we help you prepare best?

1) Our MSRA Clinical Crammer Audiobook Course. 6 hours of focused clinical teaching, mapping the SRA blueprint syllabus. Designed to listen to as many times as you like, offline or online. No expiry. For a free sample click here.

2) Our MSRA SJT Principles Audiobook Course. 45 minute audio course focused on breaking down the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guidance, covering how to approach professional dilemma SJT situations for your assessment. Designed to listen to as many times as you like, offline or online. For a free sample click here.

3) Our MSRA Mock Exams. Question papers and layouts similar to the real MSRA, our focused Mock Exams expose you to common areas that doctors struggle with. Explanations are to-the-point and based around key principles and guidance that you need to know. For our Mocks and bundles click here.

4) Our Flash Revision Cards. 150 highly focused teaching cards to use on the move. Covers all key UK guidelines as well as investigations and treatments for multiple common exam conditions. Posted to your home, worldwide. For samples click here.

5) 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.

On a final note

If you are preparing for the MSRA I wish you good luck! It can he a challenging assessment but as long as you balance question banks with background preparation you should do very well.

Our videos on how to effectively plan, prepare and boost exam preparation may help.
I look forward to supporting you through your successful selection process, and if applying to GP training I hope to meet you on our Immersion Stage 3 course!

Good luck and #CanPassWillPass

Dr. Aman Arora

Dr. Aman Arora

GP and full time medical educator

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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