6 Top Tips for Special Care Dentistry Examinations

 Over the past 3 years, I've sat quite a few exams in Special Care Dentistry. If you've ever seen the curriculum for Special Care, it can be very daunting... so here are my top revision tips...


Which Exams?

Special Care Dentistry (SCD) is not usually examined in much detail in undergraduate examinations, but there are several postgraduate qualifications you can complete, as I mentioned in a previous post about careers in SCD. These include:
  • PG certificates in SCD
  • PG diplomas in SCD - either by RCSEd or RCSEng 
  • MSc in SCD
  • Tri-collegiate examination in SCD (MSCD)

My Top Tips


1. Read the curriculum 

Make sure you are familiar with the respective curriculum for the examination you are sitting. The speciality training curriculum can be found here, but other examinations will have their respective curricula. Don't feel overwhelmed with going through every single point in a curriculum and recognise what level examination you are sitting. Is it specialist level, or is it the level of a dentist with a specialist interest? 

2. Familiarise yourself with the format of the exam

Different exams will have different formats. In general these might include some of/a mix of the following elements:
  • Multiple choice or written component such as Single Best Answers (SBA)
  • Unseen cases/vivas - these can be clinical based or clinical governance
  • Communication stations with actors
  • Essays 
  • Presentation of cases/log books/research
You are likely to want to prepare slightly differently depending on the components of the exam, see next


3. Practice exam techniques 

Depending on what I have just mentioned, you will need to practice in different ways for different elements of exams, for example:
  • Writing SBA or multiple choice questions and testing yourself. You can do this using flashcards, for example, the Quizlet app. If you would like to use my Special Care flashcard set you can access them for free here
  • Practice talking through your real life patients with other people on clinic/supervisors to yourself about their conditions and how it affects their care as well as defending treatment plans 
  • Mock communication stations or accessing communication courses
  • Mock essay writing under timed conditions or having essay plans for different conditions/subjects
  • Some exams also have preparation courses you can attend which I would recommend
I offer one on one coaching for these examinations and if you would like some assistance in preparation please contact me


4. Be aware of guidelines and important publications

To make your answers in exams from good to outstanding, you need to add in important guidelines and publications to back up your answers and show off your knowledge... aka Evidence Based Dentistry. 

There are so many guidelines to know about in dentistry and in SCD!! So to help, I have made a comprehensive list of the important guidelines to know here. Please note, since I made this document, some guidelines have be updated/amended/removed. 


5. Revise MFDS style questions

Recapping elements often asking in MFDS style questions is useful to refresh the knowledge you may not always have at the top of your head in every day life in dentistry.... like interpreting FBCs or differential diagnoses of radiolucencies of the jaw! 

There are some great books out there, such as SBAs in dentistry or accessing the PasTest app


6. Scully is the bible!

Knowing which books to use when revising is important... text books are not cheap if you are deciding to purchase them and you want to make sure they are useful. The text books I used for the MSCD and MSc are the text books in the photo above. 

Scully is very comprehensive and has everything you need to know about medical conditions and their impact on dentistry. The full Scully is very comprehensive and in lots of detail- but a nicer summary version is the Special Care in Dentistry handbook which summarises the main conditions you need to know of. 

I borrowed many of these from my local library, but you can also access some of these via ebooks if you are a BDA member. 

Other great resources to revise from include Osmosis on YouTube and the Zero to Finals podcasts to revise on the go!


Good luck if you are going to sit an exam soon! If you need any help or have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch!


Do you have any questions? Please leave them in the comments below



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