MCCEE in Sydney

May 05, 2014

If you are a regular reader, you might remember that since the beginning of this year, I had been studying for the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam, more commonly referred to as the MCCEE.

As a Canadian studying to be a doctor in Australia, writing the MCCEE is the first of a few steps if I ever want to complete a residency (training after graduating) back home.

I flew down from Brisbane to Sydney the day before to write my exam on May 5, 2014 from 9am to 1pm at ITIC PTY LTD LEVEL 3, 321 Pitt St. It is only a few minutes walk away from Museum train station and therefore easily accessible.

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Note: I’m going to be a little detailed with my experience, in case it can help anyone feel a little more comfortable going into their exam. 🙂

What did I bring?

I brought 2 pieces of ID, although they only looked at one, and my test confirmation email. Make sure that the name on your ID matches the name you registered with! I definitely wore a jacket in case it got cold and brought snacks and a bottled drink. There was water provided at my test centre. I also had other belongings with me like a purse, watch, study material, which was fine but must be locked up and access to them is not allowed during the duration of the test.

What was my experience like?

The test centre in Sydney, like all the others I assume, is very straight forward. You sign in and are given a key to store your belongings in a locker and taken to a separate testing area. You are not allowed to bring anything into the testing room except your ID and your key but you are allowed to have access to your locker during breaks. You will be seated at one of the cubicles where you have access to a computer, some paper and pencils to take note, and some headphones to drown out noise. The room I was in was small, approximately 5 cubicles, and got very warm – good thing there was a standing fan.

The computer is set up for you once you’re seated and you first have a 10 minute tutorial on how to navigate the exam (ie. moving through questions, how to highlight/strike out, how to mark questions for review, etc).

The exam is 4 hours long, which begins when you hit start and the first question is loaded. During these 4 hours, there are no scheduled breaks, however, you may take them whenever you want, for however long you want, it is up to you. The timer never stops, so your breaks are part of the allotted 4 hours. I have to say, 4 hours is plenty of time for this exam. After completing all the questions, I signed out for a break to go to the bathroom and to have a snack before going back in to review my questions, and still finished the exam with around half an hour to spare.

If you leave for breaks, you must sign in and out each time.

How was the actual exam?

The test consists of 180 questions total, however, only 150 of them are actually counted towards your score. The other 30 questions are used for quality control or even to test out newly developed questions. The questions revolve around the following 5 subjects: Child Health, Maternal Health, Adult Health, Mental Health, and Population Health and Ethics. Yes, I did find the distribution of questions equal amongst all topics. 

You don’t have to be concerned about knowing normal values or ranges. Any number given to you will be followed by the normal range in brackets, so you don’t even need to open a separate page. There were a few questions with images, which were displayed for you on the screen and the quality was completely fine to answer the question.

Unfortunately, I can’t give examples of questions but I did find all the questions to be fair, there were no impossible questions. The ones I struggled with, it was because I didn’t cover that topic enough during my studying, not because it was overly difficult.

The time passed quickly, although I never felt rushed and completed the questions at a steady pace. The relief and happiness after completing the exam is great, although I always find it hard to gauge how well I did on standardised exams. It takes about 2 months to receive your mark, so I have a long way to go!

What did I use to prepare for this exam?

I used mostly CanadaQBank questions and supplemented whatever question/topic not adequately explained with additional reading. I started ‘studying’ in January, however, with 2 busy rotations (Paediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynaecology), I simply did not have time to read additional textbooks. I found the CanadaQBank questions to be very representative of the MCCEE, both in terms of question style as well level of knowledge and difficulty – with even a few extremely similar questions on the actual exam.

CanadaQBank had a total of 3868 questions, of which I did approximately 80%. I didn’t have enough time to prepare for this exam as well as I would have wanted, but it is definitely possible to complete all questions multiple times if you have a good study schedule.

I also tried some USMLEWorld Step 2CK questions but stopped because the style was too different than the MCCEE. You will not have such long stems and style of question on the MCCEE.

Fees?

The cost of the exam is $1695 USD along with the expenses of flying down to Sydney, food and accommodation. It’s not a cheap exam and I suggest to be fully committed to passing it if you are going to write it. I had initially scheduled to write my MCCEE on February 28, 2014 with Michael in Melbourne. However, at the last minute I rescheduled it to May 5th ($50 USD fee) because I felt underprepared and uncomfortable with the possible notion of failing. Looking back now, with an extra 2 months, I did not get much additional studying done and probably would’ve performed similarly if I had written it earlier.

What next?

The next step is to complete the NAC OSCE… which I am not planning to complete anytime this year, so I will save that for a future post. 😉

Phew, long post! Thanks for reading if you are still here and of course, feel free to ask any questions! All the best if you are studying for your MCCEE!

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7 thoughts on “MCCEE in Sydney

  1. UKImg says:

    Hi Sandra,

    Thank you for this post and for sharing this information with us so openly. I’m new to the whole CaRMS match and was wondering if you know of any friends that have matched in Canada and what their mccee and nac scores were?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Sandra N says:

      Hey, thanks for visiting my blog! Yes, I had friends in my graduating class (they were all Canadians studying abroad in Australia) who matched to their first choice programs in Canada. Unfortunately, I don’t know their scores but I know they ‘did well’ on both the MCCEE and NAC. In addition, I believe what set them apart and gave them an advantage was the fact that they had done electives back in Canada – got to know the people in the department and made a good impression. Personally, I know my elective experience back in Canada had put me in a really good position to apply for the Family Med program but I decided to stay in Australia. So keep in mind that marks matter, but they will care more if they personally know you!

  2. Alphonsine says:

    Yeah. I just wrote the MCCEE too. I’m really worried about my score. I did my medical school in the Caribbean and have no option of staying for residency unlike you. I’m wondering what is considered a good score? And what was your score range?

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi! Your blog is very helpful! I have also written my mccee. I felt quite good after completing my exam which is why i am extremely worried. Everywhere i have read on the net people are saying that if you feel bad coming out of the exam you get a good score and on the other hand people who felt good coming out of the exam are getting bad scores. Can you please comment on this. How true do you think this is?

    • Sandra N says:

      Hi Sarah! Sorry for my delay in replying! I remember reading the same thing as you when I wrote my exam (that the questions get progressively harder if you continue to get them right, or easier if you get them wrong). However, I would not be able to tell you if that was the case when I wrote my exam. Don’t know if it might help, but the MCCEE website (http://mcc.ca/examinations/mccee/scoring/#passfail) does give you more information on how scores are calculated.

      As you might have guessed from reading my post, I did not do much preparation for this exam. The only ‘studying’ was CanadaQBank questions, which I don’t think is adequate if you want to score an excellent grade on the MCCEE. I did not walk out of that exam feeling like I aced it, but I didn’t feel like I failed it either. My score of 306 – which is a pass, but certainly not high.

      CARMS has released a document you can refer to to see the average scores of those who were matched/unmatched in 2013 for reference: http://www.carms.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-FMF-myths-shibboleths-EN.pdf

      Also to keep in mind that your application relies on a number of other factors, especially whether you did any electives in Canada (made a good impression, met the right people, received the appropriate references). In terms of exams, you also have the NAC OSCE and even the QE1.

      At the time of writing the MCCEE, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to Canada for residency. After doing a few electives in Canada, I decided that I wanted to stay and train in Australia so I did not end up doing the NAC OSCE. My experience with the MCCEE and process of considering residency in Canada is likely very different from other people, so keep that in mind!

      I hope my answer was useful to you in any way. I completely understand that you’re worried, I’ve been there! Good luck and all the best! I would love to hear how everything went for you 🙂

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