How long does it take to get ready for the MSRA?

What is the MSRA exam?

The Multi-Specialty-Recruitment-Assessment is a computer-based test utilized by various training programs, including General Practice, Psychiatry, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anaesthesia, O&G, and Neurosurgery, to mention a few. With training program spots becoming increasingly scarce, more specialties incorporate the MSRA to help limit potential candidates, and the COVID pandemic has accelerated this trend. It’s crucial to note that each specialty uses MSRA results differently; see individual national recruitment websites for more information.

Sitting in the exam:

The MSRA exam takes place at one of the Pearson Vue locations around the country on the days designated in the exam window. MSRA exam is often held towards the end of January or the start of February. You will be notified via Oriel and invited to create a Pearson Vue account if you are long-listed. As soon as you are told, you can arrange an examination session at one of the facilities on a first-come, first-served basis. On the day of the exam, you must arrive 15 minutes early and provide one piece of valid government-issued identification, such as a passport or driver’s license.

Exam structure:

The MSRA exam is divided into two sections: professional dilemma and clinical problem-solving. You are expected to play the part of a Foundation Year 2 doctor throughout both parts. Between the two sections of the MSRA exam, you will get a five-minute break. You will not be given any more time if you take other breaks within this time.

The professional dilemma section is a situational judgment test. It is designed to assess your understanding of situations at work as a junior doctor and your response to these. It covers professional qualities that are necessary for successful training advancement. You are supposed to react to the circumstance like you believe an FY2 doctor should. The dilemmas are divided into professional ethics, pressure management, and empathy and sensitivity. There are 50 questions in all, 42 of which count toward the overall grade and eight pilot questions. You have 95 minutes to complete this segment of the exam. The questions are a mix of multiple-choice and ranking-order questions.

The second section is clinical problem solving and measures the applicant’s ability to apply their knowledge and make clinical decisions. Again, this is based on foundation doctor-level competency and covers 12 topic areas related to general medicine. There are only a tiny number of ophthalmology questions, and therefore revision must be broad to cover other specialty areas. The questions are clinical scenarios that require you to use judgment and problem-solving skills to diagnose and manage conditions. It consists of 97 questions, 86 of which contribute to the overall grade, and 11 pilot questions. This phase will take 75 minutes to complete. Extended matching questions or single best answers are the types of questions.


Make sure you set up three to four months to prepare for the MSRA exam if you revise alongside full-time work. Examine the medical issues given in the clinical problem-solving section and use online question banks to practice sample questions. Familiarize yourself with the General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines and good medical practice for the professional dilemma section. The GMC website’s ethical hub contains ethical situations that you can work through to understand better how to put these standards into reality. You can practice with a sample of professional dilemma questions from Health Education England, complete with answers and explanations. The exam can be time-pressured, so practicing timed examinations before the day is essential. You cannot revisit these questions once your allocated time for the first professional dilemma section is up.


1. Read the instructions and questions carefully.

There may be times when you would like to have more information to answer questions. Just give your best answer given the information provided.

2. There are sometimes no right or wrong answers.

For the SJT, it is vital to remember that there are often no fundamental right or wrong answers and that answers provided for the ranking items are marked against a predetermined key based on a near-miss approach. Your performance on the test will determine your level of situational judgment rather than your performance on individual test questions.

3. Read the example questions carefully.

Suppose you feel you would benefit from revisiting some areas of knowledge or practice to show your capability better. In that case, you should do this before the assessment. There will be a glossary of terminology and medical acronyms that are not widely used or may be misunderstood by some candidates.


The importance of MSRA exam necessitates preparation. Many applicants will begin reviewing and revising two months before the exam. You must have enough time to complete many practice questions and broaden your knowledge. I hope you clear your exams with flying colors.