The universal GP Training website for everyone, not just Bradford.   Created in 2002 by Dr Ramesh Mehay

The Biggest CSA resource on the web


In the few days before the CSA exam...

Take it easy!  

  • Do not do any crash learning.  If you do, you will not have a clear head for the day and your performance will be below par.   But if you have a nice clear and peaceful mind, you’re more likely to perform smoothly and do better.  
  • So…  in the week of the CSA exam calm down  and take it easy.   Let your brain breathe.  Do not overload it. Don’t bother with any more CSA practice.  The more it can breath and feel relaxed, the better your performance will be in the CSA exam.  
  • Oh, and get to London the day before the CSA exam.  Get there early that day.  
  • And when you get there, have a nice day out in London.   Relax, forget the last minute learning.  Meet friends, have a coffee, or just watch the world go by at Kings Cross. 

What do I need to take?

  1. Forms of ID – valid passport or driving licence
  2. BNF – take the normal one and the Children’s one (I hope you have familiarised yourself with these).   You don’t want to be fumbling around in an unfamiliar book!
  3. Stethoscope
  4. Thermometer
  5. Oxygen Saturation Monitor
  6. Opthalmoscope & Auroscope kit – check batteries, ear pieces
  7. Tendon Hammer
  8. Peak Flow and pieces 
  9. Tape measure
  10. BP machine – no need to bring one as one is provided by CSA exam usually (check on RCGP website.

Put everything in a clear plastic bag so the invigilators can check it in an efficient manner.


Don't cram lots of new knowledge in the last 24 hours

You need to take a breather.    Research shows performance is better when you take a break.   I know you don’t want to and your gut instinct is telling you to keep revising all the way until the last minute of the exam.    But seriously, take a breather and don’t do much in the last 24 hours other than go for a meal, a cafe, or be with friends.  Relax.  The more you clear your head, the more clearly it will think on the day of the exam.

To use an analogy – do you ever recall a moment when you’ve been working on a problem for hours and hours.  Eventually you realise it’s the early hours of the morning and you go to bed all frustrated and annoyed.  You wake up fresh the next morning, have breakfast and a cup of tea.  You go back to the problem and somehow, miraculously, you sort it within 10 minutes.   How does that work?

It’s simple – it’s the power of rest and relaxation.  The brain needs space.  It needs to breathe.   In a similar way, rest 24h before the CSA exam.  Your performance will be a lot better.

Believe that your will be treated fairly

Lot of trainees, for some reason believe that CSA examiners, role players or both are out to trick them or trip them over.    I think this is just a fear rumour that is passed on by trainees – especially those or friends of those who have not been successful; it’s a kind of way to lessen the blow of failure.   But – I AM TELLING YOU EXPLICITLY IN MY OWN WORDS – CSA EXAMINERS AND ROLE PLAYERS ARE NOT OUT TO TRICK OR TRIP YOU.  They are not trying to catch you out.  If anything, CSA examiners really love seeing people perform well and they want you to pass.   But they cannot pass a candidate who does not perform well, no matter how nice or intelligent you know that candidate to be.  

Did you know…

CSA examiners and role players actually spend 90 minutes at the start of the examination day carefully going thorugh the case they will be examining?  They have to engage in a calibration exercise to make sure they’re assessing abilities are up to scratch.  And they only assess that one case throughout the whole day.   All of this ensures that the case will be delivered in a consistent manner to all candidates.  Similarly it means all candidates will be assessed in the same and fair way.     Candidates will be marked according to criteria that have been agreed at calibration (and which have been informed through very thorough piloted advice from the CSA case writers).

So please go into the examination with a positive mindset that you will be treated fairly.  If you go in with a negative mindset, it is more likely you will perform negatively.  Go in with a POSITIVE mindset and yes, you guessed it, the more you are likely to perform POSITIVELY.  The CSA examiners are nice down-to-earth people.   But don’t be put of with them showing you a blank neutral face during your examination.  They have to behave in that way because they are not allowed to tell you how well or not your performance has been (because that can then affect your next CSA case).

What's the story? vs What's the Time?

Find and follow the story than the timer.    Of course, I’m not saying don’t look at the timer at all, but if you look at it too frequently it will 

  • Disturb and interrupt your thinking
  • Make you feel more anxious
  • Make you question yourself
  • Make the consultation look higgledy piggledy or unnatural in terms of flow.

So, periodically look at the timer (say 2 or 3 times in a consultation) but no more.  Look 2 or 3 times to see if (1) you should be moving over from the first five minutes to the second and (2) whether you should be closing off.  

Believe in yourself

You’ve got to believe in yourself.  If you don’t then you will give off negative vibes about yourself and you will subconsciously trip yourself up and become all nervous, anxious, trembly and stumble over your words.  And then others (like the examiners) will pick up on that too.  

If you are interested in a bit of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) or TFT (Thought Field Therapy), try the two exercises in the DOWNLOADS section above called:

  • Using NLP to boost exam performance
  • Exam Nerves – tap it all away.

And if that is too much for you then just say the following statement to yourself three times before you start your CSA exam.  In fact, you can even say it after a CSA case that doesn’t go as well as you had hoped.  In fact, now I think of it, you can say it before every case in the CSA exam.

  • “I have been good at consulting, I am good at consulting, and I will be good at consulting.”

But there is one additional thing you’ve got to do when you say it – you have to genuinely believe in the statement when you say it.  




Please leave a comment below if you have any words of wisdom to help others or if you have any questions you wish to ask…

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Bradford VTS was created by Dr. Ramesh Mehay, a Programme Director for Bradford GP Training Scheme back in 2001. Over the years, it has seen many permutations.  At the time, there were very few resources for GP trainees and their trainers so Bradford decided to create one FOR EVERYONE. 

So, we see Bradford VTS as  the INDEPENDENT vocational training scheme website providing a wealth of free medical resources for GP trainees, their trainers and TPDs everywhere and anywhere.  We also welcome other health professionals – as we know the site is used by both those qualified and in training – such as Associate Physicians, ANPs, Medical & Nursing Students. 

Our fundamental belief is to openly and freely share knowledge to help learn and develop with each other.  Feel free to use the information – as long as it is not for a commercial purpose.   

We have a wealth of downloadable resources and we also welcome copyright-free educational material from all our users to help build our rich resource (send to

Our sections on (medical) COMMUNICATION SKILLS and (medical) TEACHING & LEARNING are perhaps the best and most comprehensive on the world wide web (see white-on-black menu header section on the homepage).