I’ve just sat my written exams – what do I do now?
You’ve done it – you’ve sat your RACGP written exam(s). Congratulations! Now what?
You’re likely feeling relieved that the exams are over and hopefully confident that you’ve passed and that you can tick written exams off your to-do list and move on to thinking about the CCE or other bigger and brighter milestones in your career. Or you may be feeling restless, anxious and experiencing self-doubt when reflecting on individual exam questions or re-living the exam experience and how you could have answered questions differently or performed better.
The need to wait for your results isn’t helping either. Life may feel a bit on hold at the moment as your results will govern your next steps. If you pass, you need to start preparing for the CCE. If you failed one or both the AKT / KFP exams, you’ll need to reflect on what happened, what you can do differently and where you can improve.
So what should you do?
Take a break and establish a new routine
Give yourself some time off thinking about or doing any sort of study or exam preparation in the short term. Ideally, celebrate if you haven’t already, with a break from your usual routine of work/study/life with a small holiday away, even if only for a day or two. Learn how to relax again with a changed focus.
You may also be surprised to find yourself feeling a bit ‘blue’. This is a natural post-exam experience for many after sitting high-stake exams, attributed to a sudden decrease in cortisol and adrenaline which have been high due to anxiety and stress in the lead up to exams. Its commonly experienced by students and professionals sitting important exams or at the end of large projects. Reported feelings include emptiness, loss, dissatisfaction, lethargy, low motivation, mood or energy, and being easily distracted or bored. You may even experience changes to your sleep patterns. So, what can you do about these feelings and how long should this study break last?
After celebrating, establish your ‘new’ post-exam routine as soon as you can. Having some sort of routine to replace study is an ideal way to start. Find something else to fill the void; perhaps seek new challenges. Consider starting or returning to a sport, hobby or exercise routine. What have you missed that you haven’t been able to do for a while? Who haven’t you visited or socialised with lately that you would like to? The passage of time is usually the best way to adjust to a change in focus and 3-4 weeks is usually a good amount of time to establish a new routine.
How soon should I start preparing for exams again?
You won’t know if you have passed your exam(s) for some time. Depending on when you sat your written exam(s) (e.g., February or July), you will need to wait several months prior to receiving your AKT and/or KFP results. With the next CCE either mid-June or November and the next AKT and KFP exams sometime later, it doesn’t give you a big gap between getting results and sitting your next exam – definitely not as much as you might like. So what to do?
Approximately one month after sitting your exam(s) (e.g., early March or August), we suggest start researching your potential next step by answering questions such as:
- If I need to sit the CCE, when do I need to enrol?
- What does the exam involve?
- What do I need to do to pass?
- What resources and courses are available to help me do so?
Conversely, though it’s not your preferred outcome, also ask yourself:
- If I failed, what do I need to do?
- When do I need to enrol?
- How can I improve my exam performance?
- What can I do differently?
- Who can help me perform better?
Research as much as you can about both alternative steps and plan how you will go about implementing whichever is required.
When to start exam preparation? Ideally, DON’T wait until all your results are in.
You fail both exams but waited to start exam preparation until you receive your results (e.g., end of April or September). So now you have approximately 6 weeks to recover from this shock and get motivated to try again. Preparing for an important exam (or exams) after disappointment needs some space to recover which will eat into your exam preparation time and likely affect your motivation and snowball into procrastination.
Good but bad scenario
You passed both exams but waited to start exam preparation until results were received, so you now only have 4-6 weeks to prepare for the CCE. Preparing for an important exam with limited time will turbo your stress reaction and more likely increase exam anxiety to a level where it’s more likely to affect your performance.
You started your exam preparation early so passing or failing didn’t impact your preparation as much as they could have. We recommend you start your exam preparation one-month post- written exams. Even though you won’t know your results at that stage, you DO know you’ll need to prepare for another exam by studying. Hence, start. Get back into your study routine. Its ok to be optimistic and prepare for the CCE. It’s also practical, as that has less lead time and its very different to the written exams so there’ll be more for you to learn about it. Even if you receive disappointing news with the release of AKT results, you’ll have time to recover and get back on that horse, as they say. If you passed – excellent! Congratulations on part-confirmation on which step you will be implementing. Any early start is a head start on exam preparation.
Having an in-depth understanding of the exam you are sitting will enable effective and efficient tailored exam preparation. Though not impossible, this is more difficult to do on your own. Exam preparation courses are an ideal way to access great resources and receive support with your exam preparation. Partnering with GPEx in your exam preparation strategy is effective, easy and flexible. For example, you can start preparing for the CCE with us, but if your results aren’t what you hoped they’ll be, then you can transfer into either DR MCQ (for AKT preparation) or Dr KFP, or both if needed, giving you the flexibility you need to optimise your exam preparation without knowing your results.