Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 44, Issue 12, December 2015

Book review

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The general practice exam book

Kath O’Connor, Rachel Oommen, Robin Park, Fabian Schwarz, Tammra Warby, Yashar Aliabadi Zadeh
Melbourne: General Practice Registrars Australia, 2015.
ISBN 9780992453619, 0992453615

Exam time is understandably a stressful time for general practice registrars, who are often balancing study with busy clinical work, family life and study. The general practice exam book is a useful publication to help guide registrars during this challenging period. The book was initiated by General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) as a response to feedback by members about the need for a resource to assist with exam preparation. The authors are recently fellowed general practitioners (GPs) who have shared some of their own exam experiences.

The general practice exam book is written clearly and is concise, with only five chapters. The first chapter provides general advice about preparing for general practice exams. The authors give sensible advice, such as the importance of starting study well in advance of the exams. They also draw attention to the utility of the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) data to help allocate weight to various topics.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP’s) three fellowships exams, the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT), Key Feature Problems (KFP) and Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE), are covered in separate chapters. There are some tips for success and avoiding common pitfalls for each of these exams. There are also some well-written practice questions in the appendices. The OSCE questions would be very useful in a study group with information provided for three different roles – candidate, role player and examiner. All of the questions have answers with feedback and, where appropriate, they refer readers to the appropriate guidelines. The AKT and KFP questions cover a broad range of topics and would be helpful in familiarising candidates with the style of the exam questions.

There is also an important chapter about staying sane while preparing for the exams. This is a vital addition given how stressful the exam experience can be for many candidates. The authors offer some suggestions that are well worth considering, such as practising mindfulness. The difficulty of spending time doing things we enjoy while managing our varying roles such as doctor, student and partner is also explored.

This is a publication designed to assist all general practice registrars with exam preparation. However, the authors have chosen to focus on the RACGP exams, meaning that the book is of less relevance to Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM) registrars. The book is also of less importance to GPs. However, it could be of some use for GP supervisors if they want to become more familiar with the current exam format to help their registrars prepare.

Overall, this book makes a useful addition to the study library of a general practice registrar – whether preparing to sit their exams, or planning early in their training for the exams.


Kate Thornton
Publications Fellow, Australian Family Physician, and General Practice Registrar, Geelong, VIC


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