Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA)
Information on the MSRA for ST1 Clinical Radiology applicants
MSRA stands for the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment. Sometimes it is simply refered to as the Specialty Recruitment Assessment (SRA). It is a computer-based exam designed to assess essential competencies and has been part of the ST1 clinical radiology application process since 2016. There are two parts to the MSRA; a Professional Dilemmas (PD) paper, followed by a Clinical Problem Solving (CPS) paper.
In line with a number of other specialties a Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) test was incorporated into radiology recruitment in 2016. All applicants are required to sit the MSRA at a test centre in the January of the recruitment year. Applicants are ranked according to their MSRA score and invitations to interview are circulated on the basis of rank until all available 600 interview slots are filled.
The MSRA is the most important component of the selection process for the following reasons:
- Candidates need to achieve a score high enough to be offered one of the limited number of interview slots as the ranking for interview slots is directly based on your MSRA score. If you do not perform well in the MSRA, you will not be offered an interview. There is also a cut off score below which applications applicants will not be invited to interview.
- If you are in the top 55 scoring applicants in the MSRA, you will be offered a training post without needing to attend an interview.
- Once you are through to the interview stage, your MSRA score is then weighted to contribute to your final selection centre score along with your interview performance and validated self-assessment score (from your portfolio).
So take this test seriously! The assessment has been fully researched and evaluated, having shown to have a high predictive validity.
Is the MSRA the same as the Specialty Recruitment Assessment (SRA)?
Yes - they are the same thing!
The SRA was originally designed for applicants to general practice (GP) training, hence why the questions are very broad in scope. Subsequently, many other specialties have started using this test (including Radiology), hence why it is also referred to as the "Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment" or "MSRA".
When is the MSRA held?
Late January / early February.
What is the format of the MSRA?
It is identical to the GP, Psychiatry, Ophthalmology and Neurosurgery recruitment assessment. It's a timed computer-based assessment that can be done in any of the nearest local Pearson VUE centres.
Invitations for the MSRA are sent out in early December to applicants that submit complete applications and meet basic eligibility criteria. Here is more information about the two parts of the MSRA:
Part 1: Professional Dilemmas (PD) - 110 mins
- Situational Judgement Test (SJT)
- 58 questions in 110 minutes
The Professional Dilemmas (PD) paper is a Situational Judgement Test (SJT). This paper assesses your understanding of appropriate behaviour for a doctor in difficult situations. Your responses should represent appropriate behaviour for a 2nd year Foundation doctor (FY2) in the NHS. It focuses on appropriate behaviour with respect to interacting with patients and colleagues, professional integrity, empathy and sensitivity, coping with pressure and in managing one’s own workload. It does not require specific specialty training knowledge, but does assume general familiarity with typical primary and secondary care procedures.
The test covers three core domains:
- Professional integrity
- Coping with pressure
- Empathy and sensitivity
You have 110 minutes to complete 58 questions. Only 50 of these questions account towards the final score, as 8 questions in each test are for piloting purposes, however as you do not know the questions being piloted, be sure to take them all seriously!
Scoring is based on how close your responses are to the most appropriate response for each question. Applicants can score highly in these questions by providing an answer that is close to, but not identical to that from the expert group. The closer your answer is to our experts responses the more points you will gain for the question.
There are two question formats: "Ranking" questions - ranking 5 possible actions in order of appropriateness for a particular dilemma OR "Multiple best answer" questions - choose the 3 most appropriate responses out of 8 possible actions.
This test assesses various core criteria from the Person specification 2021 for ST1 Clnical Radiology including:
- empathy and sensitivity
- communication skills
- conceptual thinking and problem solving
- coping with pressure
- organization and planning
- managing others and team involvement
- professional integrity
- personal and professional development
Part 2: Clinical Problem Solving (PD) - 75 mins
- MCQs and EMQs
- 97 questions in 75 minutes
The Clinical Problem Solving (CPS) paper presents you with clinical scenarios that require you to exercise judgement and problem solving skills to determine appropriate diagnosis and management of patients. This is not a test of knowledge per se, but rather your ability to apply it appropriately. The questions are based on Foundation-level clinical practice and test a breadth of knowledge of medicine and surgery.
The CPS paper consists of 97 questions and there are 75 minutes in which to complete the test. Only 86 questions account towards the final score as 11 of the questions are for piloting purposes. Again, you will not know the questions being piloted so be sure to take them all seriously!
Important guidance documents
To fully understand the format of the exam, we strongly advise you to read the following:
- Explanation of the exam structure and marking with some example questions.
- A selection of sample questions for the Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment.
Please note that although the documents above are written for GP applicants, they are still relevent as clinical radiology applicants also take the same test!
Useful hints and tips
Prioritising the MSRA is important
- If you excel at the MSRA you may get a training post offer without even attending interview, and if you are interviewed, the MSRA makes up a significant proportion of your final selection score. Many top candidates that work hard could achieve full marks at the radiology ST1 interview, therefore the only difference between these top candidates will be their MSRA score, which may mean the difference between getting their 1st or 2nd or 3rd choice placement etc.
Leave enought time to revise
- Given the importance of this exam, preparation is essential. Many candidates will start revising roughly 2 months before (e.g. from late-October). It is important you have enough time to do lots of practice questions and increase your knowledge.
Be strategic with your revision time and target your weak areas
- If you've undertaken placements in certain areas, maybe concentrate your revision on other areas you are less familiar with (e.g. if you did cardiology, general surgery and psychiatry, but not orthopaedics, we suggest you should make time to revise and refresh your knowledge of orthopaedic medicine).
Papers are NOT negatively marked so make sure you answer all the questions
- It is important to note that the marking convention for ranking questions in the Professional Dilemmas (PD) paper means that even if got the ranking completely out of order, you would score a minimum of 8 marks for that question. Skipping or missing an item, however, results in a score of 0 marks for that question! The point we're trying to make is that you should aim to answer all questions, even if you are not sure of the correct answer to some.
Read the instructions and questions carefully
- There may be times when you would like more information to answer questions. Just give your best answer given the information provided.
There are sometimes no absolute right or wrong answers
- For the SJT it is important to bear in mind that often there are no absolute right or wrong answers, and that answers provided for the ranking items in particular are marked against a predetermined key, based on a near-miss approach. Your performance on the test as a whole will be used to determine your level of situational judgement, rather than your performance on individual test questions.
Read the example questions carefully
- If you feel you would benefit from revisiting some areas of knowledge or practice in order to be better able to show your capability, then you should do this before the assessment. A glossary of terms and medical abbreviations which are not in universal use or may be misunderstood by some candidates will be provided.
Are there any useful resources to help me prepare?
- GMC - Good Medical Practice
Having a good knowledge of this will help you with the Professional Dilemmas (PD) paper
- GPNRO - MSRA Guidance for Applicants
- Situational Judgement Test (SJT) practice paper
Free interactive practice paper designed to help you prepare for the Foundation Programme Situational Judgement Test (SJT) by familiarising yourself with the test format and answering 70 questions within the time limit (2 hours 20 mins)
- Pearson VUE testing tutorial and practice exam
Download a free example of the computer exam software from the Pearson VUE website so you can get a feel for the exam software before you actualy take it.