How to Fail

Alternatively, for those of you who wish to donate large sums of money to the college coffers in a tax-deductible way, there are a series of tried-and-true techniques for failing the primary. These factors are common among trainees who have had repeated unsuccessful attempts:

  • Leave gaps in the curriculum
  • Don’t distinguish between the things you ought to know in great detail and the things where a superficial knowledge is sufficient
  • Don’t identify where the “one thousand hours” of study is going to come from
  • Don’t use several resources
  • Don’t ask questions when you don’t know the answers
  • Accept other people’s answers for MCQs
  • Don’t practise SAQs
  • Don’t practise vivas until after you get an invitation
  • Only ask “nice” people for assessments
  • Don’t seek out a past or current primary examiner in your region
  • Don’t buy any books
  • Buy lots of books but don’t read them
  • Mistake familiarity for knowledge
  • Don’t have a plan or, if you do, don’t stick to it
  • Don’t decide on the purpose of a study group before embarking on it
  • Don’t think about how any of what you study might influence your clinical practice
  • Don’t cultivate any curiosity you might have about your chosen specialty


  1. Reeves, M. A Primary for the Primary FANZCA Examination. 2018.
Last updated 2021-08-22

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