MRCS Part A revision

Welcome to eMRCS, we provide dedicated revision resources for the MRCS Part A examination. Thank you for taking the time to visit our website, we hope that you find it useful and that it makes the process of revising for surgical exams less painful and less daunting.

About Part A

From January 2017 the format of the examination will change slightly.

There are two components to the Part A exam; the first paper, Applied Basic Sciences (180 questions, 3 hours); the second paper, Principles of Surgery in General (120 questions, 2 hours). There is a gap between the two papers.

The exam format has therefore changed slightly from that which operated previously. Candidates will have 1 minute per question allocated. This makes keeping to time easier. You should also note that the changes also include a shift to greater emphasis on the basic sciences. This is particularly true of anatomy where the number of questions will increase such that anatomy comprises 25% of the first paper.

The marks of both papers are merged to give a total mark for Part A. Passing candidates are also required to demonstrate a minimum level of competency in each paper.

The papers are administered in a standard format by the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and clear guidelines are published online at including the rules and regulations of the examination itself. We would highly recommend reading this resource and familiarising yourself with its content. The examination syllabus is provided by the college and the level of knowledge required for each topic area is outlined on a grid which should help to direct your learning.

How can eMRCS help me?

eMRCS is designed to help candidates both in the United Kingdom and abroad familiarise themselves with the type of questions that may occur in the examination. Many individuals present themselves for the examination inadequately prepared; not just in terms of knowledge but also in terms of examination technique. Time management and answering the question that has actually been asked are key, and unnecessary marks are lost when people have not prepared in this way.

We have designed a comprehensive website that covers the areas of the surgical syllabus that are covered in part A. Through using our website you will gain familiarity with the type of questions that may occur and also the time management skills needed to cope with the exam itself. One of the advantages of our website is that you can gain rapid feedback on your performance and assess that against your peers. Hopefully as your revision progresses your performance will improve. You can revisit the questions as often as you wish. We have a large question bank and so you can “resit” the examination many times and improve both your knowledge and confidence. We have added the facility to add your own revision notes and also to highlight particular questions.

eMRCS is designed by surgeons and we know well the challenges and expense that come with training in surgery. Our website is low cost to use and is provided in the belief that people at a junior stage in training have enough pressures without having to purchase expensive revision guides. We know that many surgical trainees are busy people and the website is designed to be used in the library, at home or even between theatre cases. You can dip in and out as you please. Unlike revision books that need to be carried around all you need to access the site are a computer or mobile phone and your login details.


We have designed the site so that each topic is covered under a distinct area. For each question there is a short background that is designed to be an aide memoire for any uncertainties that arise. For each question the justification for the answer is given, except where the answer is an explanation in itself. After attempting questions, you can review your performance and grade yourself against others. As a general rule you should aim for at least 70% in the exam. Do bear in mind that in the real exam there are some questions that do not carry marks as they are questions that are being trialed by the college- they give full details of this process on their website.

Tips for success

Preparation is vital and hopefully our website will help with this. In the exam itself, decide on a strategy, remember that the exam is not negatively marked so you cannot suffer penalties from an educated guess. If you decide to transfer your answers onto the answer sheet at the end of the exam be very careful to allow yourself sufficient time to do this. Ensure that you check each part of the paper carefully to ensure that you not missed any questions out. It sounds obvious but we have heard of several candidates being caught out by these obvious scenarios.

Do allow yourself sufficient time to reach the venue- you do not want to be stressed out on the day itself.

The MRCS is all about setting benchmarks for safe surgeons. Common surgical pitfalls will inevitably work their way into questions and this should certainly direct your learning. The first paper of Part A is very heavy on anatomy and this anatomy tends to have a direct clinical relevance. The problem for junior trainees can be that the clinical relevance is not immediately apparent!

And finally...

Good luck in your revision. Please do send us feedback on the website, by pointing out errors and omissions in the website you will help us improve the experience for those that come after you. We will always try and respond to all feedback points that are raised.

Best wishes,

eMRCS Team

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