Divisional Clinical Examination - Preparation tips

Leading up to the exam, make sure you work on:

Your wellbeing

This is a factor that has been consistently identified by trainees who have passed the exam. Look for ways you can better look after yourself in the lead up to your exam. Exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep are important. Some people find taking up meditation or learning relaxation techniques helpful.

If you are struggling with exam anxiety you are not alone. Give serious consideration to getting additional support, coaching or counselling at this time including from the RACP Support Program.

Seek opportunities for strategic practice and feedback

One of the biggest pieces of advice we receive from trainees who have passed the clinical examination, is the importance of practice.

For some this meant taking every opportunity to receive feedback from multiple sources on both short and long practice cases. For others the quality of practice opportunities took precedence over quantity – finding the right patients and consultants, sticking to timings in presentations and asking for constructive feedback on clinical approach as well as on the structure and clarity of their presentations. In fact, many trainees felt that coaching on how to structure their presentations was critical to their success.

Join a study group

The shared experience of studying with others has helped many trainees feel more motivated, confident and on-track during the crucial preparation period. Many joined (or created) a group that was supportive, met regularly, shared resource ideas and provided an environment conducive to constructive feedback.

Find a mentor

Trainees with a mentor felt that the feedback they received was effective and targeted development in key areas. Although these trainees practiced with a variety of consultants, the regular check-ins with a mentor helped to pinpoint improvements and areas for further development. Some trainees benefit from having their mentor, a supervisor or a senior registrar sit in with them as they gather the history and examination in the long case. 

If you have previously attempted the Clinical Examination

Meet with your Director of Physician Education or mentor

If you are actively training, meet with your Director of Physician Education (DPE), or if you are on Interruption of Training, meet with your mentor to talk through your previous attempts at the exam. Your DPE or mentor is likely to have valuable insights to share about areas you need to focus on and areas to improve. Use the Improving Performance Action Plan template and plan your study to maximise time spent on these focus areas. For example, once a week you could spend time on each area to make sure you have a thorough understanding of each topic. You could also ask your supervisor or mentor to share trial case studies and cross-reference them with the Basic Training Curriculum.

Make sure you receive feedback about your previous attempt from a National Examining Panel (NEP) member

Following an unsuccessful attempt, the Assessment and Selection team would have invited you to discuss your feedback sheets with a member of the NEP. This information is provided in your results letter. If you have not received your feedback statement within four weeks of the release of results, please contact examinations@racp.edu.au to request that the statement be resent.

Combine successful strategies from past attempts with new strategies

  • Tackle some tough cases in practice sessions – deliberately set up scenarios outside your comfort zone.
  • Videotape a few practice presentations and review with a mentor for a different approach to feedback (bearing in mind the importance of confidentiality and gaining appropriate patient consent).
  • Use your “kit” regularly in your preparation to ensure you feel comfortable with these items.
  • If your DPE or mentor suggests a communication workshop, a presentation skills course or believes that some counselling might assist in managing exam anxiety, give these ideas serious consideration.
  • Use technology to help organise your study, for example, there are several websites and apps available where you can create and share study flashcards.
  • Talk to your DPE, mentor and fellow trainees for recommendations on textbooks, other resources or general tips. You might like to include some of their suggestions in your own preparation plan.

Start as soon as possible

Start preparing early. Consider starting prior to completing your written examination. Most successful candidates started preparing 6 to 12 months before their examination.


  • The College Learning Series (CLS) is a very good resource for both paediatric and adult medicine trainees which you may find helpful when preparing for the long cases. The CLS is an interactive e-learning platform that provides a wide range of videos and resources that cover relevant clinical topics linked to the curriculum. As part of the CLS, you are also able to access the Clinical Examination Series which is an 8-week series of long case presentations designed to support preparation for upcoming clinical examinations. The 2018 Clinical Examination Series is recorded and uploaded throughout May/June.
  • Visit Divisional Clinical Examination and read about the format and content of the exam, key dates and how the exam is marked.
  • Resources links to useful learning resources.
  • Check Events for lectures, videoconferences and other events to support your preparation.
  • The RACP Support Program is an initiative that provides members with access to confidential counselling, coaching and support for workplace and personal issues. Anxiety about the examination is understandable and having an opportunity to debrief can be helpful. It’s free for all RACP members for up to 4 sessions a year.

Note: This is not intended as formal advice and is provided as general information only.

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