How to prepare for MRCS Part A and the Best books for MRCS Part A preparation

How to prepare for MRCS
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How to prepare for MRCS Part A and what are the best books and resources for MRCS Part A Preparation?

Sharing my preparation plan and resources so that you can prepare and crack MRCS Part A in the first attempt. I took the MRCS Part A exam during the second year of my MS General Surgery residency. I would rate the difficulty of the exam as moderate, at least it was not something that can be taken lightly. There were times in the exam hall when I was doubting myself over my responses to the questions. Quite a few questions were very tricky, so you have to be on your toes while doing preparation. Until the day of the result, I had a doubt over me cracking the exam, but the big day came as a pleasant surprise.

Below I will describe How to prepare for MRCS Part A step by step:

Step 0: Understand what is MRCS Part A Exam and Which College to choose?

The full form of MRCS is Member of the Royal College of Surgeons. The MRCS examination is a crucial milestone for a surgical career in the UK; it determines whether a surgical trainee possesses the correct knowledge, skills, and attributes to complete basic training and to progress to higher levels of specialist surgical training. Since MRCS is an intercollegiate exam, so after passing part A in any of the above college one can give part B in same or any of the other colleges. Degree will be awarded by the college in which Part B is given. There is no difference in value of degree awarded all are equal only difference is Edinburgh is more immigrant friendly college and England is more popular and difficult to get through. MRCS Part A exam is conducted by:

1.RCS England

2.RCS Edinburgh

3.RCS Glasgow

4.RCS Ireland

Step 1: Decide the date of the exam giving yourselves enough time and a good head start over the competition

Deciding when to give the exam is one of the important factors which will drive your success in the exam
It is held three times a year in January, April and September with booking closing approximately 2 months before the exam date.

You can follow these two routes

  • Express Preparation: Requires 6 months. Suitable for those who do not have a very tight work schedule and can take out a good relaxed 4-6 hours of time to study each day.
  • Laid Back Preparation: Requires 1 year. Suitable for those who have a very busy work schedule and cannot devote more than 2-3 hours per day of study time.
  • Once you decide about which cohort you would fall in, book a date for the exam
  • Until you don’t book a date, your brain will be in a denial about the exam preparation and you will be as lazy as a toad. So, if you are really serious, book a date at the earliest.

Step 2: Choose your study resources

Below are few books which are a must for preparation of MRCS Part A

How to crack MRCS Part A and the Best books for MRCS Part A preparation (Updated)

Best Theory Books for MRCS Part A Preparation (How to Prepare for MRCS Part A)

1) MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes: Book 1

This title is probably the most-up-to date material for candidates preparing for the MRCS examinations.

The editors of this successful range of essential revision notes for MRCS have taken these books to the next level while ensuring they match the MRCS syllabus.

2) MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes: Book 2

3) Basic Science for the MRCS: A revision guide for surgical trainees (MRCS Study Guides)

This is a concise revision book covers core basic sciences for all surgical trainees preparing for MRCS Part A. It covers anatomy, physiology and pathology. It has been written in a style to facilitate easy learning of the essential facts. This book concentrates on the topics that are recurring in the examination themes for initial surgical training. It will be an invaluable book for the basic surgical trainee as well as for those in higher surgical training.

4) Oxford Handbook of Clinical Surgery

Best MCQ/EMQ Books for MRCS Part A Preparation (How to Prepare for MRCS Part A)

I cannot overemphasize the importance of doing as many MCQ/EMQs as possible because our brain usually is good at recalling readymade retained information in pressure situations, as in the exam hall it is sometimes difficult to come at conclusions. So having done a few MCQ/EMQs on the topic given in the exam will increase your probability of giving a right response to the question. Below are a few books you can go through:

1) SBAs for the MRCS Part A: A Bailey & Love Revision Guide Paperback

The second edition of this popular book, SBAs and EMQs for the MRCS Part A is an invaluable book for applicants of MRCS Part A examination. There is an increased emphasis on Anatomy and Basic Sciences, which now account for 60% of the exam.

2) Bailey & Love Companion Guide MCQs & EMQs in Surgery

With over 1000 multiple choice questions, MCQs and EMQs in Surgery is an ideal self-assessment companion guide to Bailey & Love’s Short Practice in Surgery, 26th edition.

3) Rush University Medical Center Review of Surgery

It has more than 1,500 multiple choice questions that mirror standardized test blueprints. Single best answer format provides a realistic exam simulation. Questions are followed by answers and explanations, with rationales backed up by references.

4) MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 1 SBAs

It includes four complete practice papers, each featuring over 120 multiple choice questions, mirroring the exam format. Questions reflect the distribution of topics covered in the MRCS Part A exam, and detailed explanation to every question helps in revision.

Best MCQ/EMQ Online Resources for MRCS Part A Preparation (How to Prepare for MRCS Part A)

  1. Pastest : Over 4,300 MRCS A exam-themed questions
  2. OnExam : Over 1,700 single best answer questions, 1,300 extended matching items and 2015 Mock Test
  3. eMRCS : Over 2,000 Single Best Answer and Extended Matching questions based on themes from previous exams

Video – How to Prepare for MRCS Part A and Best books for MRCS Part A Preparation

Step 3: Join various Facebook communities where students and seniors help each other over study resources and important information regarding the exams

Following are a few communities which can help you understand your competition, keep you motivated and help you with more guidance on the study resources:

MRCS Part A and Part B


MRCS Part A Preparation

Step 4: Revise what you have read

One month before the exam stop reading anything new and focus only on the revision. Stick to MCQ/EMQs for your revision. Try to take a glance of all of them atleast once.

Step 5: Hold onto your nerves in the examination hall and don’t do silly mistakes

On the D-Day…

  • Stay composed
  • Read questions carefully
  • Mark the options as you attempt questions
  • Keep a track of time, remember you have less than a minute to attempt each question. Time is one of the important factor which will determine your success.
  • Avoid silly mistakes
  • Keep your senses working
  • Don’t get nervous
  • Take good breakfast, stay energized and well hydrated

If you have studied well, you will definitely clear the exam.

Frequently Asked Questions about MRCS Exam preparation

1) What is the best time for appearing in MRCS Part A for Indian doctors?

For MRCS Part A, the best time to prepare and appear in exam in my view is 2nd year, because you have had a good practical exposure to most clinical situations which are asked in the exams by then. This will make reading theory and attempting questions more interesting.

2) Can I appear in MRCS Part A after successfully completing my pg entrance exams?

However if you think you have enough time available after your pg entrance exams, and you think you are comfortable with basic knowledge of  supespecialties like urology, vascular surgery, orthopaedics, neurosurgery etc, you can go ahead with MRCS Part A.

3) What is the best time for appearing in MRCS Part B exams for Indian doctors?

For MRCS Part B, the best time to prepare is 3rd year, you are very strong clinically by then and you will be able to prepare with minimum effort. Your probability to pass the exam will also be higher. In addition to it, it will also help in preparation of final year general surgery clinicals.

4) After doing MRCS part A, how much time we have to pass MRCS part B?

After passing part A, you are required to pass Part B of the examination within seven years. Otherwise successful MRCS Part A result will be considered as expired.

5) Is MRCS Exam mandatory for doing FRCS?

There can be a direct entry to FRCS too but for experienced surgeons only and that too after satisfying a lot of other criteria. But MRCS makes it easier to get GMC registration, Royal college sponsorship, fellowships and jobs in the UK.

6) Can I start my preparation for MRCS immediately after finishing my housejob?

You can start your preparation for MRCS Part A immediately after finishing your housejob but it is always better to have some basic surgical experience before you appear for MRCS Part B.

7) Is MRCS Degree of any use in India?

MRCS has only academic value in India and showing off a foreign degree on your CV to your employers and to your patients. Maybe it can help you initially in your career in converting your job interviews easily. . It shows that your standard of knowledge matches the international standards. That is the reason many specialists resort to naming the institution or University from which they obtained the MRCS/ FRCS in brackets after the degree. MRCS is a very standardized examination with emphasis on basic sciences. MRCS can authenticate minimum proficiency in the basic principles of General Surgery. However, there is no significant difference in the packages between MRCS qualified and non-qualified doctors. In the Middle Eastern and other countries, doctors with MRCS are preferred and given higher seniority and packages. 

8) What are the changes in the pattern of MRCS Part A exam?

Please check out this document to know the syllabus of MRCS.

More on MRCS








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Best Surgery Books

MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes: Book 1
MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes: Book 2

MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 1 SBAs

MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 2 EMQs

Rush University Medical Center Review of Surgery

Bailey & Love Companion Guide Mcqs & Emqs In Surgery

SBA MCQs and EMQs for the MRCS Part A Pack: 2

Basic Science for the MRCS: A revision guide for surgical trainees

Oxford Handbook of Clinical Surgery

Get Through MRCS Part A: SBAs

Mrcs Module 2016 Question With Explanations For Mrcs The Best Question Series

EMQs and Data Interpretation Questions in Surgery


DrExam Part B MRCS OSCE Revision Guide: Book 1

DrExam Part B MRCS OSCE Revision Guide: Book 2

OSCEs for the MRCS Part B: A Bailey & Love Revision Guide

Succeeding in the MRCS Part B Exam: Essential revision notes for the OSCE format

Get Through MRCS: Anatomy 2E

Clinical Anatomy: Applied Anatomy for Students and Junior Doctors by Harold Ellis

Essential Radiological Anatomy for the MRCS

Surgical Critical Care: For the MRCS OSCE by Mazyar Kanani and Simon Lammy

Surgical Critical Care Vivas by Mazyar Kanani

Mcminn’s Color Atlas of Human Anatomy

Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy



Surgery Essence By Pritesh Singh

Surgery Sixer for NBE by Rajamahendran 4th ed (2019)

Bailey & Love Companion Guide Mcqs & Emqs In Surgery

Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery ABSITE and Board Review

Surgery PreTest Self-Assessment and Review, 13th ed


Surgery For PGMEE 13th Edition – 2019 by Amit Ashish


Bailey & Love’s Short Practice of Surgery, 27th Edition

Sabiston’s Textbook of Surgery

Schwartz’s Principles Of Surgery

SRB’S Manual Of Surgery


Operative Techniques in Surgery by Michael W. Mulholland et al

Chassin’s Operative Strategy in General Surgery

Farquharson’s Textbook of Operative General Surgery, 10th Edition


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