The MDCN exam is relatively easy to attempt, if you have the right kind of information.
I’ll share a few tips that worked for me, which you can apply as well in preparing for the exam.
1. To thine own self be true.
Know why you’re in Nigeria. Not all that came to write the licensing exam, plan to use it. For some, practicing in Nigeria is a second, third or fourth option. Roughly a quarter of the candidates in my centre were planning to port (i.e. Return Abroad). If you’re not ready for Naija wahala, just sit at home and chill. And if you’re in it for real, then make sure you double up.
2. What you don’t know, you don’t know.
You may have to unlearn and relearn some things, especially with history taking and physical exam, because Naija stuff get levels and as far as “they” are concerned, it’s either their way or no way.
For instance, when I saw the way they palpated for enlarged lymph nodes in a patient, I just humbled myself and went to learn it.
Another example was learning to use the Mercury sphygmomanometer, which I wasn’t very familiar with. When you’re not sure, just ask. It may be embarrassing at first, but it’ll be to your advantage later on.
3. Listen with sense.
Not everything you hear is true…learn to sift through the noise and hold on to the fact. There will be rumors to your left and to your right, and some of them will overwhelm you but you must not allow your heart to fear. Remember, it is just MDCN, not an exam to enter heaven 😂
4. Be present when it matters.
Not every tutorial, not every call, not every seminar counts…but MOST of the rounds and classes are important. MDCN requires 70% attendance (of ward activities/classes) for you to participate in the exam; and over 80% of the exam material will be covered during lectures. Be wise.
5. There is no time to waste time.
Start studying the moment you resume…unless you’re a specific kind of genius with a type A brain, your plans to start studying just a few days to the exam won’t work. Trust me, the work load piles up on you like toppings on a slice of Pizza. Just like med school, you can use some of these STRATEGIES to scale through the MDCN exam. Past Questions are the main resources you should revise with for the exam. Don’t be lured into buying giant textbooks and whatnots. The truth is, you don’t need them.
6. Beware of 419.
There are evil people ready to scam you of your money, abuse your body (Dear Ladies, take heed) and rob you of your integrity. You don’t need the backdoor to succeed in the exam, nor any “special help” from those in-the-know. Exam Malpractice is a grievous offense and the examiners take a lot of measures to curb it. If you’re caught, you’ll be asked to face the music.
7. Don’t lose your Confidence.
This is by far the most important tip. Your Confidence is your greatest ally. Prepare as much as you want, if you lack confidence, you’ll mess up. It took me weeks of motivational articles, positive self-talk and prayers, to get myself mentally ready for the exam. Thankfully, I was able to scale through it.
The Exam Format (LUTH Centre)
From the information I gathered, the exam varies from Centre to Centre. In Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), where I sat for mine, the exam was 3-fold.
PAPER 1- 150 MCQs
PAPER 2- PICTURE OSCE and Clinical Scenarios
Day 2 (Main OSCE)
Station 1 (Pediatrics): History taking from the mother of a jaundiced baby.
Station 2 (Surgery): Abdominal examination for a patient with suspected Acute Cholecystitis.
Station 3 (Obstetrics): History taking in a woman who presented for Antenatal care.
Station 4 (Medicine): Cardiovascular Examination in an otherwise healthy young man.
– For the MCQs, it’s advisable to do as many questions as you’re certain about and leave the rest. We were made to understand that “negative marking” was implemented for our exam, and a lot of candidates in my centre were affected.
– Each OSCE station was timed for 5 minutes, so it’s important to work within the given time. The more you practice with your colleagues, the easier it is to achieve that.
– Arrive early at the venue of your examination, you don’t want to be stressed out before you start. And have a light breakfast if you can, you’ll be glad you did.
“You can get horses ready for battle, but it is the LORD who gives victory.”
Proverbs 21:31 GNB
With God, MDCN is possible.
I wish you success.
*OSCE: Objective Structured Clinical Examination.