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Scotland Deanery

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Exam failure

If you fail an exam it can seem like a catastrophe. In medical training failure to progress in programme due to failure in mandatory examinations is a common reason for delayed training progress. Examination failure is stressful as there are potentially high stakes of longer time in or release from training. 

It is commonly assumed that as all doctors have passed many examinations at undergraduate level they must be skilled in study and examination techniques. However, for many trainees this will be the first experience of balancing study with a busy and demanding job. Previously successful study methods may have become inadequate and examination more demanding and requiring of deeper knowledge and more critical thinking. 

Many exam issues will be remediable with support from the local training team and relate to lack of preparation or poor study technique and focus. Some trainees may also struggle with exams due to issues such as situation specific or general anxiety, dyslexia, dyspraxia or memory disorder. 

We suggest that all trainees who fail an exam should speak to their educational supervisor soon afterwards to discuss why and plan a way forward.

This page was last updated on: 21.06.2021 at 14.38