As an international medical graduate (IMG) working as a doctor (PGY2) in the UK, I heard good things about PassMedicine in the run up to my preparation for the MSRA exam.
Aiming to become a GP, I spent the last six months using PassMedicine and many of its features.
This is my attempt to give as objective a review as possible about the platform.
I hope it might help other med students or junior doctors decide what’s best to use when it comes to their medical education!
Is PassMedicine Worth It? Key Points
|About: Learning platform designed to help qualified doctors and medical students pass “high stakes medical exams.” Mainly UK-focused with a small USMLE section.|
|Price: MSRA (4 months – £20 ($28)). Medical Student Finals (4 months – £12 ($17)). Free UCAT, USMLE and Medical Student Years 1-3 sections. See cost section for more.|
|Discount: No discount available. Free demo versions available for each product.|
|Pros: Great interface and user experience. Active recall and spaced repetition features (Knowledge Tutor). Recommended resources and relevant links. Ton of free demos and products. Cheap (compared to competitors).|
|Cons: Some question format/styles inaccurate compared to real exams. Timed test feature lacking.|
|Best For: Medical students or doctors planning on working and specializing in the UK.|
|Verdict: Useful tool for qualified doctors, exceptional tool (especially for free) for medical students.|
|Overall Rating: 3.5/5|
What Are The Best Resources For Med School (And Beyond)?
I’m on a mission to review all the top resources students can use during their medical education. My goal is to be transparent, honest and say with clarity what’s worth spending money on or not. You can find all my reviews and current scores on my recommendations page.
What Is PassMedicine?
Offering multiple choice question (MCQ) banks with its unique “knowledge tutor” feature (more on this later), it’s best known among UK-based medical students and doctors working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Here’s how the main website looks…
Other functionality offered by PassMedicine includes:
- Real-time exam performance histogram: to evaluate your performance alongside other candidates and help predict when you’re ready for the final exam
- Timed test: allowing you to take a “mock-style exam” under timed conditions
- Revision mode: showing you how many questions you’ve attempted from the entire question bank etc.
- Question review function: allowing you to view the extensive answer notes and/or add your own
Who Are PassMedicine?
PassMedicine was founded by Dr Jon Arnold in 2009.
Dr Jon Arnold is a GP, according to B2B data specialists Endole.
They are based in Covent Garden, London, UK.
PassMedicine’s About page states that “questions are written by practising doctors.”
Their ethos is to provide “quality, relevant questions and teaching notes.”
Who Is PassMedicine For?
PassMedicine is useful at various stages of educational development for both qualified physicians and medical students.
Their content covers the following disciplines:
|MRCP Parts 1 and 2 (UK postgraduate medical training programme)||3000|
|Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) (relevant to GP training)||4513|
|Medical student finals (SJT & PSA)||5400|
|Medical student years 1-3||3838|
|UCAT (UKCAT) – UK medical school admissions||3000|
|Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA)||2,200 + 250|
|DRCOG – designed for non-O&G specialists||800|
|Pharmacy Registration Assessment||136|
|PLAB Part 1 – UK doctor registration exams||3000|
|USMLE Step 1 – U.S. medical school board exams||10|
PassMedicine also supports (but doesn’t offer content for):
- FRCEM Primary – via FRCEMtutor
- MRCOG – via PassMRCOG
- MRCS – via eMRCS
- MRCPsych – via MRCPsychmentor
- Paediatrics – via PassPaeds
- Geriatric Medicine – PassGeriMed
- Anaesthetics and ITU – IntensiveAnaesthesia
Prices vary depending on each of these packages (more on this later).
Although much of the content is designed to prepare UK-based doctors, some of it is relevant to international doctors.
Some of the tools on the platform are also under development and subject to improvement via user feedback. You’ll get free access to these while in development phase.
How Does PassMedicine Work?
My use of PassMedicine is limited to their MSRA program but the functionality is broadly the same across the platform. Everything is browser based.
Editor Note (Will): I’ve personally run through the medical student years 1-3 revision and medical student finals revision sections and can confirm this.
PassMedicine works in 3 ways:
- Go through the questions specific to a topic or in mixed format
- Use the knowledge tutor
- Do timed mock exams
Each exam’s section has a dashboard with these three options in the top left corner.
The right side of the screen will show nearest exam dates, your average score from questions and information from the knowledge tutor.
Let’s go deeper into each option.
This option enables you to run through multiple choice questions relevant to an exam and get immediate feedback with an explanation.
You’ll see there’s a filter allowing you to select topic-specific questions.
You can select specific areas to test or hit “All” to get a mix. The fact you can choose between new questions or repeat questions marked incorrect is great for helping customize your study sessions and save valuable time.
These are the categories available in the question bank for medical students years 1-3….
Setting up a new question session will start a new “round”. The number of questions you’ll be shown in each round differs depending on the exams you’re preparing for.
You can skip questions you don’t feel are relevant to you with the blue right-pointed arrow. This can really speed up the process.
Questions typically have five answer options.
Attempting a question and hitting submit will show you the percentage of users selecting each of the different answer options.
Underneath you’ll get a super extensive answer highlighting high yield facts about the tested concept. On the right you have links to additional resources.
This question example has a link to an Osmosis (see our review) video for example. Nice touch!
There’s also the option to add your own answer notes to each question.
Once your round is done you’ll be given a neat summary of your results. Again with the chance to review answers, add notes etc
The summary gives you three options to view your results:
- Question summary (graphically represented by a histogram showing you what percentile you score in)
- Performance by category
- Performance over time
PassMedicine described their knowledge tutor as a “powerful system that drills key, high-yield, exam-relevant facts into you.”
Sounds pretty intimidating!
Simplified, it’s based on the following things:
- Spaced repetition: facts turned into mini-questions prioritized by you
- These facts are rated by relevance to each exam by both users and the editorial team
- The facts you don’t know (but need to know) will be shown to you repeatedly until you retain them
- Speed: the system stops to show relevant revision notes only
Here’s exactly how PassMedicine explains the knowledge tutor for the MRSA exam…
You can adjust the what you see in the knowledge tutor by:
- High-yield rating: facts scored from A++ to C by your, other users and editors’ responses
- Difficulty range: 0-100% easy to hard selection
- Fact selection: spaced repetition of individual, grouped or new facts
Here’s an example of the knowledge tutor interface, it’s similar to the question feature…
Get one of these “mini-questions” wrong and you’ll get quick, relevant feedback. You’ll also see it’s high-yield rating on the right hand side.
Selecting “how relevant” it is to your revision or not will enable the algorithm to determine when you next see the question again.
Correct questions will automatically move you on.
Likewise, every knowledge tutor session ends with a neat summary.
Knowledge tutor also shows you a general summary across all sessions as well as performance by category.
This is broken down into how many facts you’ve been tested on and your level of recall…
Timed Mock Exams
This section enables you take a timed exam and closely mimic test conditions on the big day.
You can choose the number of questions and length of test you want to simulate.
You’ll also be able to see all your previous mock tests and even review all the questions you answered on each.
The mock questions follow the same format as the question section feature. Except you won’t get the same feedback for each answer until you complete the exam and the timer runs down.
Frustratingly, the review section doesn’t tell you how long you took answering each question.
Also, when simulating MSRA mocks, I found the actual exam moved me on faster for situational judgement (SJT) type questions than PassMedicine did.
Can You Repeat Questions On PassMedicine?
You can definitely repeat questions on PassMedicine. Just hit the back button (left pointed arrow) to see your previous question.
Questions you get wrong will appear in the knowledge tutor for you to revisit later.
You can also find missed, unanswered or flagged questions via the filter.
My opinion is that you shouldn’t repeat questions you’ve recently done though. That’s because they’ll be too easy to recall and you’ll only waste your time repeating. Try and leave them for at least a few weeks.
How Is The PassMedicine App?
There is no dedicated PassMedicine app.
The platforms works, fully responsively, across all mobile devices via browser access.
How Do You Sign Up For PassMedicine?
You can sign up for PassMedicine via their main website.
Browse to the section you want and hit the sign up button.
You’ll then be taken to a landing page with more information on the product and subscription options.
Here’s how it looks for medical student finals revision…
Hit the subscribe button and you’ll be taken to a registration form asking you for basic details.
For some sections (like the Medical students finals package), PassMedicine will request your University details. All the international University options are available here.
This isn’t relevant to all the exam products.
Is PassMedicine Free?
The following sections (plus access time) are free to use on PassMedicine:
- USMLE Step 1 (6 months)
- UCAT (6 months)
- Medical Student Years 1-3 (12 months)
- Pharmacy Registration Assessment
These include all the features outlined above.
The Anesthetics and Geriatric specialist diploma content is also for free while its under development (subject to change).
All other exam content has a free demo version.
- Question feature
- Timed test (restricted to 10 questions and shortest time length)
The demo does not include performance data, question selection or the knowledge tutor.
How Much Does PassMedicine Cost?
|MRCP Parts 1 and 2||4 months – £30, 6 months – £40|
|Applied Knowledge Test (AKT)||4 months – £30, 6 months – £40|
|Medical student finals (SJT & PSA)||4 months – £12|
6 months – £15
9 months – £20
12 months – £25
|Medical student years 1-3||12 months – Free|
|UCAT (UKCAT)||6 months – Free|
|Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA)||4 months – £20, 6 months – £25|
|DRCOG||2 months – £15, 4months – £25|
|Pharmacy Registration Assessment||4 months – Free|
|PLAB Part 1||4 months – £12|
6 months – £15
9 months – £20
12 months – £25
|USMLE Step 1||6 months – free|
Prices are reflected in pounds sterline as PassMedicine is a UK-based country. If you are paying from a non-UK pound sterling account your card provider will calculate the exchange rate of your transaction.
Is PassMedicine Legit Or A Scam?
I’d say PassMedicine is definitely legit.
According to TrustPilot, they have a good 4.0 rating (but from just 3 reviews)…
There’s nothing in my research that suggest they’re a scam.
They’re also very transparent about what they offer, even stating they don’t “pretend PassMedicine offers a one stop shop to passing your exam.”
Is PassMedicine Safe?
PassMedicine is definitely safe to use.
They also have a support system users can contact directly should they run into any problems.
Does PassMedicine Offer Refunds?
According to their Terms and Conditions, PassMedicine does not allow cancellations or refunds of your subscription once the service has started.
Here’s their exact policy…
Does PassMedicine Have Student Discount?
PassMedicine does not offer student discount.
Does PassMedicine Offer Institutional Access?
PassMedicine does not offer any official line on institutional access.
Some of their products are available via specific NHS Trust’s study budget. Enquire with your employer in regards to availability.
Is PassMedicine Good For PLAB?
PassMedicine is definitely good for PLAB. With over 3000 PLAB 1 exam questions it is a big resource.
Many students say positive things about PassMedicine’s PLAB program.
Here is quote from Dr Mylene Lim, who took PLAB in 2017…
Passmedicine was a great study resource for me, because I had no time to study from scratch, so I was simply doing as many questions as I can, and if I got the question incorrect, there was a nice, concise note and explanation given, which allowed me to study the concept that I got wrong…Passmedicine is also quite updated in terms of their management guidelinesSource
And here is a similarly positive recommendation from Dr. Siddhartha Barnawal, who took PLAB in 2019…
Passmedicine is an excellent resource, with good explanations of the question and also a fantastic collection of notes. An added advantage is that it has updated NICE guidelines compiled as a note. Adding this to your list of resources makes your preparation an ideal oneSource
Is PassMedicine Good For USMLE?
At this point in time, probably not.
The question bank is small (10 questions) and still under development.
Check back in the future.
What Are Other People Saying About PassMedicine?
Both medical students and junior doctors are positive about PassMedicine as a learning resource.
Students in the Reddit community r/medicalschooluk are particularly complimentary about it. But they do say it’s not a one-stop resource for UK med school.
Here’s a few select comments….
Got over 70% in my written finals at Nottingam using pretty much just passmedicine. The cover is pretty comprehensive I would say. I don’t think any single source is going to cover all the learning objectives since there are so many but this comes pretty damn close. If
Scored 70+ in final year using passmedicine alone. I did however, use my lecture notes for things like fluid prescriptions. So you need to be tactful. As the other comment says you will need to make effort to cover any gaps if you are striving to achieve an A otherwise this will get you at least an average grade.
Similarly, there are also good reviews of PassMedicine in r/JuniorDoctorsUK, specifically in terms of passing the MRCP exams (both parts 1 and 2).
I went through the question bank on PassMedicine twice. Once in the 2 months leading up to the exam, and then again in the final week. I read the notes on PassMedicine about whatever I got wrong, and I used the Knowledge Tutor on PassMedicine briefly. I passed the exam first time in FY2, with a decent mark, and the exact same strategy worked for part 2 for me.Source
As for my opinion…
Criticism of PassMedicine
- Too many words in question stems: I get that is trying to teach you to read the question first, but my experience (at least in sitting for the MSRA exam) was that the exam’s actual questions have far shorter stems. Bottom line? You can’t count on any of the questions being similar to the actual exam’s!
- Several deliberately misleading questions: A good example would be instead of asking “name which medication is useful in the given diagnosis”, it asks “which modality/drug you would not recommend using” instead. Confusing!
- The SJT questions are far too easy: They are much tougher in the actual MSRA exam! (Editor Note – Will): This could also be true of the med school specific materials!
- Timer: The mock exam feature lacks a general breakdown of how long it took to answer each question. It also weighs the time unevenly for question types (having longer for SJT questions than you do in reality etc).
Praise of PassMedicine
- Great interface: The in-browser experience is a pleasure to use. No bugs, easy and very well designed.
- Utility becomes apparent the more you use it: At first I was dismayed to see myself getting questions wrong that the majority were getting right but over time (the more I did questions) the more benefit I could see. I quickly learned that pushing through that pain process could be a good teacher and slowly I improved.
- Timed mocks are exceptionally useful: Once I started doing them, I quickly got into the rhythm of how the actual exam might be. The feature primed me to read the question first and ignore the stem. Suddenly I was able to do between 100-300 questions per day (up from 10-15 originally).
- Knowledge tutor is an A+ feature: 10 minutes focused revision on specific knowledge gaps works wonders for your progress. Sometimes even better than the mocks!
Alternatives to PassMedicine
Pastest vs PassMedicine
Pastest is a similar platform to PassMedicine, offering similar functionality and content.
According to some junior doctors, Pastest edges PassMedicine in terms of its mobile app and extra content (podcasts and videos). It’s mock exams are also said to be closest to (or even actual) previous MRCP 1 exams.
PassMedicine definitely edges Pastest in price though (being £100 cheaper).
Emedica vs PassMedicine
Emedica subscriptions are substantially more than PassMedicine (a one month subscription for the MSRA SJT question bank is £50 compared to PassMedicine’s £20 for 4 months).
According to some UK doctors on r/JuniorDoctorsUK, it’s not considered worth the price.
How Best To Use PassMedicine? Tips For Using PassMedicine:
Here are several tips on how to get the best out of PassMedicine based on my own experiences and that of my research:
- Read up on the latest guidelines: Don’t expect all PassMedicine’s questions to be up to date (although they are good)
- Do as many questions as possible: Copy and paste all the information about each question you get wrong into a text document (make electronic flashcards (Anki) out of these to revise from later – use the cloze format!)
- Take your time to really analyze why you’re answering questions the way you are: Make full use of the data reports, knowledge tutor etc. to uncover bad habits and patterns
- Consider investing in another question bank to work through alongside PassMedicine: This will expose you to seeing questions in different formats etc.
- Push through the pain: Forget about what questions you’re failing at (while the majority is getting right), just keep going and keep practicing. You’ll improve the more question exposure you get.
- Start as early as you can: I started about six months out from my MSRA exam, that gave me a lot of time to cover all the questions.
- Knowledge Tutor vs Flashcards: I’m not an Anki person, nor comfortable making flashcards. But I do believe, based on what other people have told me, that it could be better to make digital flashcards from PassMedicine’s notes (and not lean so heavily on knowledge tutor). The questions can get repetitive.
Final Thoughts On PassMedicine
While I’m yet to recieve my results from the MSRA I can at least say using PassMedicine definitely helped give me a (small) level on confidence going into the exam.
I believe it’s an honest resource and that it does all the things promised. That said, it’s questions are quite different from those I experienced on the actual day.
On reflection, the clinical questions were too long and obscure. Some were also worded very differently (mainly the stems) to those on the real exam.
As for the SJT section, PassMedicine’s questions were much easier than those I encountered during my exam.
This is why I’d definitely advise using (or investing) in another platform to use alongside PassMedicine.
Still, I admire the attention to detail in the interface and its ease of use. The ongoing editing provided by the developers is also a nice touch.
For that reason, I’ll give it 3.5/5.
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Hi, I’m Alexandra. I’m an International Medical Graduate working as a Clinical Fellow at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust. I’m originally from Russia but have family in Dubai. I moved to the UK in 2020. LinkedIn.