Is Passmedicine Really Any Good? – Detailed Analysis
Passmedicine is used across the world to help medical students and doctors get the exam results they want. But even though everyone recommends it, is it any good? We give you both sides of the story before you spend your hard-earned money on this question bank.
What is Passmedicine?
Passmedicine is a question bank used by medical students and doctors to help pass their exams.
The questions tend to be multiple choice style questions with detailed explanations to each answer.
It is used mainly for Medical School Finals and MRCP exams.
It is an extremely effective and thorough tool considering the price, especially when you compare it to medical textbooks.
Incredibly, the UCAT and USMLE sections are offered for FREE, which is an incredible deal if you ask me! Their reason for doing this is to gather as much information on these new question banks.
The Medical Students Years 1-3 question bank is always FREE.
What Can You Do on Passmedicine?
This is a full list of all of the exams that Passmedicine caters for:
|UCAT||3000||6 months – Free|
|Medical Student Years 1-3||–||12 months – Free|
|Medical Student Finals
(includes SJT + PSA)
|5400||4 months – £12
6 months – £15
9 months – £20
12 months – £25
|MRCP Part 1||3300||4 months – £30
6 months – £40
|MRCP Part 2 Written||2400||4 months – £30
6 months – £40
|Applied Knowledge Test||4100||4 months – £30
6 months – £40
|MSRA – Multi-Specialty
|2,200 + 250||4 months – £20
6 months – £25
|DRCOG||800||2 months – £15
4 months – £25
|PLAB Part 1||3000||4 months – £12
6 months – £15
9 months – £20
12 months – £25
|Pharmacy Registration Assessment||–||4 months – Free|
|USMLE Step 1||–||6 months – Free|
Who Uses It?
Although Passmedicine is mostly aimed at medical students and doctors, they have recently broadened out into those who are applying for medicine in the form of UCAT and USMLE exams.
Passmedicine is a very popular choice for medical students in their clinical years as well as those taking the MRCP exams; they offer excellent value for money when compared to other question banks on the market.
What Is the Format of the Questions?
Below is the layout of the homepage of Passmedicine.
It is intuitive and well laid out.
Below is an example of what the questions look like (taken from the Medical School Finals question bank).
If you do not want to do the question or want to leave it till later, you can always skip it by clicking the blue arrow button on the top right of the question.
This feature is great if you find that a question is not relevant to your University exams.
After deciding on an answer, you submit it for feedback.
Regardless of if you got the question right or wrong, you see an explanation of the answer.
The below explanation was shown after the question above was answered.
On top of the explanation, there is also a notes section that gives you an overall picture of that particular disease.
Even if you just paid for the notes section, Passmedicine would be worth it!
It covers everything in a succinct and easy to read way.
Below is an example of how your statistics are tracked (for all the nerds out there).
Ignore how badly I did on Paeds, Women’s Health and Dermatology.
A unique future of Passmedicine is a system called “Knowledge Tutor”.
Note: Knowledge Tutor is not present in all of Passmedicine’s question banks, however, it is present in the Medical School Finals bank.
What is Knowledge Tutor?
It is a collection of thousands of high-yield exam facts powered by spaced repetition. Algorithms turn these facts into mini-questions, ensuring the most important facts are given the highest priority.
If you don’t know what spaced repetition is, see my full post on it here.
This is where Knowledge Tutor is located:
Below is an example of what a question in Knowledge Tutor looks like.
In Knowledge Tutor, when you get an answer right, it automatically moves to the next answer.
However, if you get it wrong, it gives a brief explanation of why you got it wrong.
Why Passmedicine Is Great
Here are some of the reasons why Passmedicine is awesome:
- Uses Active Recall – Active recall is one of the best ways of improving your grades and doing practice questions is a great way of implementing active recall into your study plan.
- Instant Feedback – Unlike other forms of studying, question banks give a way to evaluate how you did instantly. You don’t need to guess if you got it right as you can find out straight away.
- Questions Similar to the Exam – Over the years, Passmedicine has perfected its formula of asking great questions with succinct explanations for each one. Their questions can be exceptionally similar to the exams that they target.
- Price – Passmedicine provides one of the best value for money offers out there.
- New Questions – As time has gone on, Passmedicine has increased the number of questions that they offer for all of their courses. After a small experiment, I noticed that the number of questions in the Medical School Finals question bank increased from 5188 to 5500 questions between June 2019 and March 2020. That means it will only get better value for money as time goes on!
- Helps With Exam Technique – The only way to improve on exam technique is by doing questions. This is true for those doing GSCEs all the way to MRCP and Specialty Training Exams. You cannot substitute a good question bank when it comes to learning how to do questions the right way.
- Pattern Recognition – One thing that people who don’t do question banks won’t know is pattern recognition plays an important part in doing well. Diagnosing a semi-rare condition is tricky if you are just learning from lectures/online resources. However, if you have done enough questions on the topic you will start to see certain things come up again and again. For example, if you see the word Umbilicated skin lesion you will straight away think of Molluscum Contagiosum. This kind of pattern recognition helps you surpass anyone not using a question bank.
- Knowledge Tutor – This is a unique resource that comes with Passmedicine. Most other question banks do not have anything close to it, and the algorithm will only get better with time. Here are some great things about it:
- Designed for speed – Only stops if you get a question wrong.
- Remembers what you don’t know – The system will keep coming back to the same area until it is confident you have retained the information.
- Most relevant questions first – Facts are rated for relevance with the most relevant facts presented first.
- Works Great With Anki – If you’re an Anki user Passmedicine is what you should be using! After every question, you can easily copy and paste the relevant information into your deck. It’s great as it helps you only pick the things you get wrong. If you used a lecture, you might end up copying everything into Anki. That would be a waste as you would have too many cards and you probably don’t need to know all that stuff in the first place! Instead, with Passmedicne, you can pick and choose what flashcards you make depending on what you get wrong.
- Compare with Piers – This is mostly positive but could be viewed negatively. By giving percentages for each question, you can see if the question you just did was something you should know, or if it is just a hard question for everyone. This can be especially useful if you use question banks as your primary source of learning, as the percentages tell you what pieces of information you need to spend time learning. If 90% of people are getting a question right, it’s probably a good idea to learn it properly!
Why Passmedicine Isn’t So Great
Passmedicine isn’t perfect, and just like with any resource, there are cons to using it.
Here are a few noteworthy ones:
- Mistakes – There are times where you will find important mistakes in terms of signs and symptoms, diagnosis or management options. They do tend to be quick about fixing these, but considering the total number of questions on the site (upwards of 25,000), it can be difficult for them to keep up.
- Uncharted Waters – Some of the question banks are fairly new (e.g. UCAT and USMLE) which means they might have lots of mistakes. However, they are being offered for free so I guess you can’t complain.
- Distractions – It is very easy to get distracted with the percentages on each question and the comments section. If you spend too much time on these things, you won’t learn as much as you could. And there’s no way to turn them off.
- Questions Can Be Too Specific – There are times where the questions given are just not relevant. Although I mentioned above they are mostly quite to exam questions, it does depend on your University.
- Other Question Banks Might Be Better – This is similar to the point above. Depending on the University, other question banks may be more suited to the style of questions that you will get in your exams. For example, BMJ OnExamination is great for those going to Oxford/Cambridge.
- It Takes Time – Although not a negative of the question bank itself, it is certainly worth noting. It takes time to do all the questions for any given module. If you speed through them you won’t get much out of it. Therefore, you have to start early. If you are a crammer, Passmedicine might not be for you.
- You Can’t Use It on Its Own– Because of the vastness of medicine, Passmedicine simply cannot cover everything in their notes. There may be certain conditions that you want or need to know more about, however, they have not covered in much depth. There are many, many diseases which are never mentioned in Passmedicine at all.
- Same Results With Other Question Banks – Passmedicine is not unique. There are many other options out there for those that want a question bank. You can get the same improvement in grades by using Pastest or BMJ OnExamination instead of Passmedicine.
So is Passmedicine any good?
Well, Passmedicine is a great resource if you use it correctly. If you take your time and go through the questions properly you can succeed in Medicine with just this one resource.
However, you have to be aware of its limitations.
It can be distracting as well as have mistakes on questions.
In the end, you should talk to your friends and colleagues to see what they think. They might be able to provide genuine insight as to how they found using Pssmedicine.
Take this and everything I have listed above and decide for yourself if Passmedicine is worth it for you.