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Quesmed OSCE Platform Review – Is It A Game-Changer?
This is my review of the new OSCE platform by Quesmed. It is branded by the team as an “OSCE practice revolution”. Here are my thoughts after I used it to prepare for my final year OSCE exams.
If you are in a rush, here is a quick answer to the question.
The OSCE stations are fantastic and relevant for almost all medical school OSCE exams.
A few of the stations were more challenging compared to my final exams (although, that’s not the worst thing in the world).
As with the standard question bank, the design team have done an incredible job. It makes it a joy to use.
The group study feature is incredibly unique and is something that will get only get better with time.
For students, it can be difficult to afford high prices, and Quesmed is now much more expensive than other options.
The system can be buggy and stop working randomly. Thankfully, it wasn’t a regular occurrence.
If my website builder allowed me to give a half star, I would probably give a 4.5/5. Alas, considering the effort and dedication that the Quesmed team have shown, I am inclined to give a 5.
They offer a great service that will grow over time with more and better stations. This new generation of OSCE practice is a brilliant advancement on the old way and I would definitely recommend checking the site out.
I would like to state that I did not get paid to write this review. I get a commission for everyone that uses the 10% off coupon, but Quesmed had no input on this review and my comments.
I used the Quesmed OSCE platform for 2 weeks in the lead up to my exams which gave me enough information to write this review.
What is this OSCE platform and what makes it unique?
March 2022 marked the release of a brand new platform by Quesmed. It coincidently was released at the same time as the Geeky Medics OSCE platform and OSCEHub platform (I am sure there are others so email me if you find any – [email protected])
I have only tried the Quesmed OSCE platform and my thoughts are positive. Before delving into the review, I do have another review of the Quesmed Question bank which you can check out here.
Why Is This Platform Needed?
Previously, I along with a lot of my other medical school colleagues would use a resource called OSCE Cases with Mark Schemes. This is a neat book that has many patient scenarios and mark schemes.
Although the Quesmed platform doesn’t offer the vast number of stations that the book offers, I believe that it does have some major positives. Here are the main things that this improves upon compared to using the book (I discuss these points further in the advantages section):
- Detailed walkthrough guides
- Dynamic actor instructions requiring candidates to be adaptable
- Interactive mark schemes to keep track of scores
The table below shows their pricing options before the code RRS10 is applied.
|Product||Monthly (£)||6 Monthly (£)||Yearly (£)|
The table below shows their pricing options after the code RRS10 is applied.
|Product||Monthly (£)||6 Monthly (£)||Yearly (£)|
As you can see, there is, unfortunately, no change to the monthly or 6 monthly option.
Although it is the most expensive, I would probably recommend getting the yearly bundle option. After the discount, it is roughly £48. You can use the bank as a source of truth. If you were to get it with the passmed question bank, it would end up being roughly £73 a year.
Compared to the £9,250 a year tuition, it’s good value for money.
Things to Think About Before Buying
Here are a few caveats when thinking about which of the above options to get:
- Get together with friends and only buy one OSCE practice platform between you.
- It might be best to leave the OSCE practice till the final few months before the exam. This will save you from buying the more expensive yearly option.
- You can still get excellent OSCE practice by using the book OSCE Cases With Mark Schemes if you are on a budget (don’t tell anyone but you could probably find a pdf somewhere).
- There is a Geeky Medics OSCE platform which is similar to the Quesmed one and it is only £10 a year. However, I cannot vouch for that as I never used it.
- You should think about whether you want to use other Question banks with this one. I used both Passmed and Quesmed question banks for my finals and feel that was a great combination. However, that can make everything even more expensive.
- Read the rest of this article to ensure you know what you are buying! Being well informed is important to ensure you aren’t disappointed with what you buy.
Structure and Content
So what exactly does this platform do and how does it work?
You start by selecting which type of station you would like to try. They have the following options (I have given the number of stations that they provide for each section in the brackets):
- History taking (59)
- Communication skills (51)
- Examinations (23)
- Interpretation (4)
- ABCDE (11)
- Procedures (14)
Once you select a station type, you can then choose to start a specific station. It gives you the title as well as the candidate instructions so you see if it is something you would like to practice.
You can then start the station. When you do so you get the following screen.
As you can see, it is split up into 4 sections: candidate briefing, actor, mark scheme and walkthrough guide.
You can see this better in the short YouTube video that I created which walks you through the Quesmed OSCE platform.
Some of the stations leave a section blank where it is not necessary (e.g. none of the ABCDE stations has actor instructions as no actor is needed).
Once you are done you can get the examiner to mark everything you got on the checklist and submit it. This saves your answer so that you can see your score.
The Key Advantages
After using the platform for a couple of weeks, here are the reasons I think it’s a good buy.
The Mark Schemes and Walkthrough Guides Are the Real Gems
One of the best things about this platform is the mark schemes and the walkthrough guides. They give some excellent tips and tricks that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
You can use this to directly improve your revision.
They often give acronyms and mnemonics which can help you in real life as well as in OSCE stations. this is especially useful if you haven’t come across these before.
For example, some medical schools might not teach the SPIKES framework for breaking bad news, but they give it in the walkthrough guide so you won’t miss out.
Twists and Turns
Certain stations are great as they truly challenge the candidate by giving the actor certain directions.
For example, it might say that the actor should not understand anything that is being said to them. The candidate then has to realise that capacity needs to be assessed.
This is something that is truly lacking in other OCSE resources and makes this platform shine above books like OSCE Cases With Mark Schemes.
Interactive mark scheme
The interactive mark scheme helped me keep track of stations I did badly in and focus on those topics.
This helped me to keep track of the scores I was getting let me see at a snapshot as to which stations I did well in.
It also had a surprising advantage.
It helped me see stations that I thought I did badly, however, due to ticking all the general introduction and communication skills marks, I did much better than I thought.
Detailed patient scenarios
My OSCE partner and I noticed how detailed some of the patient scenarios were.
There were some stations where it was excessive, however, the majority provided a good amount of information that the OSCE Cases With Mark Schemes book didn’t have.
Although not the most important feature, having a well-designed layout can help a lot when it comes to regularly revisiting a site and making the process enjoyable.
This is something overlooked as it doesn’t impact the product itself. However, Quesmed has realised that these small details make a big difference in the perception of quality by the user.
A built-in timer helps to easily keep track of where you are in the station.
You can set this to be whatever you like before you start the station, allowing you to adjust the timer according to your medical school’s OSCE standards.
Good mobile and desktop integration
It is great to use on both mobile and desktop which is important for the multi-device student.
You can even login on to your phone and laptop at the same time and hand one of the devices to your partner if revising in the same location. This is great as not everyone will buy this resource.
Here are some other small things that are great about this platform:
- You can change the text size to bigger or smaller
- You can select difficulty and filter via specialities
- There is an OSCE book that has the candidate brief, actor brief, mark scheme and walkthrough guide all in one
So Are There Any Any Negatives?
So those are all the reasons to buy, but what about the reasons not to buy?
Too Much Information
Some of the stations simply have too much information for the actor to read.
A lot of the time, the real benefit of doing OSCE practice is in the practice. That means that even if the actor completely made up their scenario, it would still be beneficial for the candidate.
That’s exactly what I and my friends started to do in the final few days before our OSCE exams. We realised that the Quesmed OSCE platform was great because of the mark scheme and the tips they give in the walkthrough guide, however, as an actor, the information can be a bit overwhelming and to be honest, a bit pointless.
It would be better if they focused on specific points for the actor. For example, saying “the actor refused to talk initially” rather than giving a bunch of information about their social history.
However, I would say that this is only in a small number of stations and you can easily just ignore it if it’s too much.
It’s Difficult if Only One of You Buys It
If you are doing OSCE communication skills online, it is difficult for the other person to mark your work.
There are a couple of ways to get around this like just marking your own work after the station finishes or getting them to log in to your account. I used the former.
Another option is to send a link to your friends, however, I never used this so cannot comment on it.
As I stated in my introduction section, the pricing has increased significantly.
This is understandable as they need to hire software engineers, designers and doctors to run the entire system.
However, as someone who didn’t have a lot of spare cash in my 6th year of university, I can see how students might find the prices too high.
The only other cheap option that is available is the Geeky Medics set of OSCE stations which is £10 a year.
Stability is Questionable
The final negative I would like to mention is that it can be somewhat temperamental in its behaviour.
That is, sometimes it doesn’t allow me to login via chrome so I have to use Safari instead (this has been happening ever since my Question Bank subscription ran out even though my OSCE subscription is still ongoing).
There was also one day when I could not log in to the website at all, no matter which browser I used.
It is likely that these issues will reduce in frequency as time goes on, but it’s something to not.
Other Things to Note
Here are miscellaneous thoughts that didn’t fit into the other sections.
Although it must have been a huge amount of work to create, their “study body” virtual sessions were never going to be something I tried. I preferred to study with my friends either in person or online rather than with another person I have never met.
I can see how it might be a great resource for some, especially if you live far from your friends or you never seem to be able to sit down and practice with them. It is also a good idea for those that like to study OSCEs earlier than their colleagues (however I am unsure whether there would be enough people at those times to even create a session).
If you do have any feedback about this feature that you don’t mind being in the blog, email me at [email protected].
One important note for certain medical schools is to do with the marking.
In the medical school that I went to, we had “domain” based marking in our 3rd and 4th year, while in our 1st, 2nd and 5th years we had the standard checklist marking.
Therefore if you are in a year of medical school which has a domain-based system, you need to focus on a more holistic approach to the station. There will not be marks specifically for asking niche questions (a checklist system rewards asking every question which is even loosely relevant to the stem).
You can still revise with the Quesmed platform, however, you just need to keep the examiners at your medical school in mind.
Tips and Tricks
If you haven’t already started using Anki, when should you start? Is there a “right” time to begin?
Having done OSCEs for a while and seen how different people approach them, here are some general tips that I have picked up over the years:
- Always revise with friends – OSCE can be some of the most fun exams to revise for so make sure you make the most of it. I spent all day revising with my friends in the lead up to my finals (although half the time we might not have been using effectively, it was still much more fun than sitting at home!)
- Go through common stations twice – There are certain things that you know are going to come up (e.g. cardio, resp and abdo exam). Make sure you go through these as many times as possible.
- Revise with different people – Don’t just revise with the same friends over and over. By varying it up you will learn loads more and get their own experience as to what phrases work for them. You can even revise with non-medics! It is still useful trust me. You just need to go over things a bit more carefully when looking at the mark scheme (cause they won’t know what 90% of the stuff means!)
- Practice the stuff you hate – One of the things I was most uncomfortable with was presenting/summarizing my findings. Looking back, I wish I had practised that a lot more during the year in my clinical placements. It might be nerve-wracking to present a patient to a consultant, but it helps for your final year exams as well as being a foundation doctor.
- Common things are common – The medical school will tend to have the majority of their OSCE stations as “standard” stations. This means that going over chest pain history and presenting ECGs is going to serve you much better than revising how to suture. Although the latter can come up, it is not something foundation doctors will be doing daily and so is not something the medical school will focus on. If you revise the standard stations, you will likely pass.
Here’s a conclusion to everything in the article.
So Is It a Game-Changer?
Well, maybe not. You could still pass your exams by using another resource. However, Quesmed has provided a great way of practising for your OSCEs that is easy to use and challenging at the same time.
For that reason, I do suggest you give it a go. It’s unlikely you will regret it.
Should You Buy It?
As with most things it depends.
If you have a large budget, then go for it. If you stress out about failing your exams that money isn’t much of an issue, then definitely buy it!
However, if you cannot afford it then you can still use the large number of free resources which are available online. Geeky Medics and OSCEStop are just a couple of the great resources that are out there.
That’s all from me. This was my first blog in a long time so I hope I haven’t lost it!
Thanks for reading this far.
If you want to support me then the best thing to do is to use RRS10 at the Quesmed checkout.
Adios and good luck.