How to Use Passmedicine Effectively

Passmedicine is used across the world to help medical students and doctors get the exam results they want. But has anyone taught you how you should be using Passmedicine? We teach you everything you need to know!

What is Passmedicine?

Passmedicine (commonly called Passmed) is a question bank used by medical students and doctors for various medical exams like Medical School Finals and the MRCP.

The questions are multiple-choice style questions with detailed explanations to each answer.

It is an extremely effective and worthwhile tool considering the price, especially when you compare it to medical textbooks.

Passmedicines most popular resources

How to Do Questions

Choosing the Topic

First, you need to decide how you will go through the questions.

I suggest that you go through, topic by topic, depending on what your next exam is.

For example, if you have a cardiology and respiratory exam coming up, this is how you could do the questions:

  1. Do half of the cardiology questions (as soon as you start the module)
  2. Do half the respiratory questions (once you’ve done half the cardio questions)
  3. Start combining cardiology and respiratory questions
  4. Redo the questions that you got wrong (if it has been >4 weeks since doing the questions)

The reason for doing this is that it gives you a chance to get used to the cardiology questions before moving on. If you start mixing the questions too early, you may find it difficult to learn myocardial infarctions as well as you should know them.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not start doing questions too late.

Don’t be the person who just blazes through 100 questions the day before the exam.

You need to spread the questions out.

Doing the Questions

When answering a question, ensure you pay full attention and treat it as if you were in an exam.

Don’t look things up on Google.

Don’t ask a friend.

Once you have decided what the answer is, submit the answer to see if you got it right.

Getting an Answer Right

If you get an answer right, well done!

You should still be looking at the notes to see what could have been improved, especially if you guessed the answer.

However, don’t spend too long on a question you got right. About 20-30 seconds should be enough (depending on the question).

This is because you should be spending the most amount of time on wrong questions.

Also, don’t waste your time looking through the comments.

Getting an Answer Wrong

If you get an answer wrong, you should be spending at least 1-2 minutes finding out why it was wrong. Sometimes it can take up to 5 minutes of Googling and researching to fully understand everything.

Read through the full explanation. Read the question again. Read the notes again. Be thorough.

There’s also no need to worry about the percentage of people who got the question right.

Whether 30% of people get the question right or 90%, it makes no difference to you.

You are only using this as a learning opportunity. If you got everything right, why are you doing Passmedicine in the first place?

If you get a question wrong you should spend a good amount of time going through the explanations. Here they have highlighted that females have a 6 times higher risk. This means it is important and you should pay attention to it.

Transferring the Information Into Anki

Passmedicine and Anki is an excellent combination.

Anki is great for remembering those tricky to learn facts and ordered-lists

So how do you use them together?

After doing a question in Passmedicine, you should copy any pieces of information that you have never heard before into Anki. Create a few flashcards for each point so that you tackle the topic from multiple angles.

Don’t create too many flashcards though as they can start to pile on top of each other.

There is are excellent pre-made decks which UK doctors have created that can help supplement the cards you make. Check it out here.

However, if you are willing to put in the effort, making your questions can be much more beneficial as you can focus on your weak points.

But, using Anki is the most important thing, so even using a pre-made deck consistently is going to be much more beneficial than reading Passmedicine notes 5 times over and over again.

If you don’t know what Anki is then check out my complete guide here!

Knowledge Tutor

Knowledge tutor uses spaced repetition to repeatedly test you on things that you always get wrong.

Format of a question in Knowledge Tutor before answering

I would not recommend it to use daily, as the questions can repeat more often than is necessary, and Anki is much more powerful when it comes to spaced repetition.

However, you could certainly use Knowledge Tutor for a few days and see if you like it.

The questions that come up are different from the ones in the standard question bank so can provide a good way of tackling a topic from a different angle.

It can also help with adding cards to Anki.

After getting an answer wrong in Knowledge Tutor

Passmedicine for Medical School Finals Revision

If you follow the steps outlined above, you will cover all the basics when it comes to revising for Medical School.

The “Medical Student 1-3 Years” questions are not used as much as should be used.

It is a free resource that if you are in your pre-clinical years, you can certainly utilise. However, the primary source of information should be lectures and your own medical school’s resources.

Passmedicine is commonly used for clinical years, and there’s a good reason for that.

It is great for learning key topics in a way that uses active recall.

Here are a few things that you should be doing to revise effectively with Passmedicine:

  • Don’t rely on Passmedicine – Because every medical school has different requirements and exams, you should not rely on doing questions alone. Although a lot of the questions will be similar, you should try and still go through your own medical school’s resources.
  • Don’t compete with peers – It is very tempting to compare your scores with your friends, however, you shouldn’t ever think that your score is “too low”. You are using this as a tool to learn.
  • Start early – If you start early, you can go through the Passmedicine notes a lot more thoroughly and slowly. If you leave doing the questions until the last minute, you might end up being unable to go through them as well as you should.
  • Google is your best friend – If you don’t understand something that is mentioned in the questions, and there is no good explanation for it, you can always Google it. You can then take what you learned and turn it into an Anki flashcard.

When Should You Start Using Passmedicine?

The age-old question of when to start doing questions.

In my opinion, you can never start doing questions too soon.

But this depends entirely on if you are gunning for the top 1% of your year group or not.

Some people say that you should “save” the questions for when you know the topic better. And while there is a good argument to be had about that, I still feel you shouldn’t leave it till the last minute.

That is because active recall (see our blog on active recall and spaced repetition) is proven to be one of the best ways to study.

Although there are good ways of using active recall that doesn’t involve doing online question banks, most people find it hard to do.

So that is why, unless you have a good reason otherwise, you should start doing questions within the first week of starting a module.

Should You Repeat Questions on Passmedicine?

You shouldn’t redo the questions that you have recently answered.

That is the general rule you should stick to.

Why?

Well, if you still remember a question from the first time you did it, you are very likely to know the answer without needing to use more brainpower. And using more brainpower is known to be better for long-term memory and understanding.

However, once you have forgotten a question you will start to use that brainpower again.

So the next question is, how long does it take to forget a question?

In my experience, it takes a minimum of 2 weeks to forget a question. Sometimes it will take much longer, especially if you spent a good 5 minutes after answering the question researching it. If that is the case you should expect to forget the question after 6 weeks.

Therefore, if it has been over a month since you did questions on a module, feel free to repeat questions.

Should You Learn All the Notes?

Yes. Try your best to learn all the notes.

If you find there’s something in the notes you haven’t come across before, jot it down or add it to Anki.

You might not need to know everything but knowing a lot is great for medical school exams. You never know what will come up.

In some cases, the notes on Passmedicine are extremely detailed. This can be for good reason, as these topics tend to be core topics that you should now in great depth.

However, to learn them all in one sitting is not feasible.

Have a look a the example below on Acute Coronary Syndrome. The images only account for less than a third of the information in the notes (admittedly it is one of the biggest notes you will find on Passmedicine).

It would simply not be possible to learn everything here in one go.

But, by the end of a module, you should try to know at least 50% of this information.

Should You Finish All the Questions on Passmedicine?

Whether you should finish all the questions on Passmedicine is up to you.

It can be useful if you’re in your first clinical year to have many different question banks on the go at the same time. If this is the case, you might not be able to cover all the questions on a topic.

However, if you learn Passmedicine properly and use all the notes below each question, you probably don’t need another question bank.

The notes have more than enough information for each module.

If you insist on buying another question bank, then go ahead. However, I would suggest you use up all the questions on Passmedicine before buying another one.

Conclusion

To conclude, using Passmedicine effectively requires doing multiple things simultaneously.

It is a skill that will come with practice.

However, if you do the following main points, you can’t go wrong:

  • Go through topic-by-topic if learning a module for the first time
  • Spend time on questions you got wrong
  • Use other resources in combination with Passmedicine (e.g. Google, lectures, University material)
  • Anki is great for remembering those tricky to learn facts and ordered-lists

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