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on 3 March 2013
I'm a final year medical student and bought this book after it came recommended by several people in my year.

Superficially it looks great. It covers a wide range of potential OSCE stations from histories, examinations and specialties to prescribing and radiology.

However, it quickly becomes obvious that this book is lacking depth. One example of this is the abdominal examination station. The book mentions clubbing, but not a list of abdominal causes of clubbing. There is no mention of Murphy's or Rovsing's sign, which are fairly standard in other textbooks. However, the worst bit is that there is no explanation on how to palpate the abdominal organs. This is the most important part of the examination and since specific organs are palpated differently it seems crazy that this book misses this out all together! (It merely says 'palpate the liver, spleen and kidneys')

Another example is the upper limb neurological examination. When testing power there is no reference to the myotome or nerve roots tested- knowledge of this is essential for making a neurological diagnosis. Although dermatomes are mentioned, a picture of the areas would have made this much clearer.

With this book I find that I have to be constantly cross referencing with other textbooks in order to get enough information on each topic. It's fine for supplementing notes, but I would definitely not recommend this for finals.
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on 16 July 2012
Very good book covering a lot of basics OSCE stations for medical school - it details pretty much 100% of what you need to know for passing OSCEs at medical school level without all the extra details many other books go into. It's colourful, easy to read and you're able to flick to sections quickly, however, it's pretty heafy so not very good for carrying out and about, or reading on the bus.
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on 20 July 2012
This book is a good resource as it covers a wide range of topics, however it is severely lacking in several departments.
Things I liked:
1) The illustrations are excellent and very useful. Clear, crisp and relevant!

2)Topics are relevant! Some textbooks contain stations you would never come across, the ones in this book are all pretty much standard OSCE stations.

Things I disliked

1) The "build" quality of the book is appalling. You *will* have pages come loose from the book completely, as the book became fairly popular amongst some of my med school chums, and all have experienced it. Secondly ink seems to come away from some of the fundoscopy pictures, which is not great either. This book is quite expensive, so there is absolutely no excuse for this.

2) The range of stations covered whilst good, needs more in certain departments for example the topics covered for ortho and rheum are distinctly lacking, as are topics for neuro, which are pretty sparse bar examinations. I would have expected better from a book in it's third iteration.

3) There is no overarching flow or structure to the stations, which in it self is not inherently problematic and is good for those looking for a quick reference. If you are looking to structure your approach and need help in this department, there are better books out there. Also how many of these quotes by clinicians which are present almost on every page, taking up a sizeable chunk of room are actually useful?

In parting, there are just too many negatives to overlook with this book. I applaud the effort, and there are grounds for a great textbook, but it needs reworking. A senior editor needs to pull the entire book to an overall theme, and stop wasting the space with useless quotations/advertisements (REALLY? Ads in a textbook, I know its for charity but come on! £30 and you put ads inside the book?) and fill that space with more stations and more crisp images. If they can achieve that, then this will be the osce guide book!


1 year on (with no use in that year really till finals came up a month or so ago) and several pages are now out of the book and have dissapeared into the unknown. Some of the stations are just poorly written and poorly put together. Much recommend the masterpass series instead.
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on 24 November 2014

-A variety of scenarios to learn (from histories and examinations, to specialities, radiology, and practical skills).
-Good depth of information provided.
-The information in the textbook is clear and well written with extra tips to help in the OSCE.
-Unique in that it is written by junior doctors and medical students.
-Excellent if you have just started your clinical years.
-Personal experiences from doctors and medical students are provided.


-Although most areas are covered in good depth, some areas are slightly vague and requires a bit more explanation.
-A little more information in history scenarios would have been better.


As a 3rd year medical student, this book is particularly good at providing knowledge on a whole range of OSCE scenarios that I will potentially be examined on. The book also has many other scenarios that I will need to know in my 4th and 5th year of medicine so it's a book I can use for my forthcoming years which I am pleased with.

When comparing what is expected from me during mock OSCEs with the information in the textbook, it's pretty close. However, on some scenarios a little more depth and detail would have been good to get those few extra points! (e.g. when listening for mitral stenosis, I have been taught to roll the patient to the left, patient's breath held in expiration and to then listen over the apex with the bell of the Stethoscope which isn't fully mentioned in the text). Therefore, some information can come across as slightly vague which can leave the reader a bit unsure on how to perform those specific parts, particularly if they are just starting to practice OSCEs.

What is expected from you will vary depending on the university you are at so it is best to combine this book with other resources.

However, the book does cover a healthy amount of background information to help us understand why we are asking or looking for particular things in histories and examinations.

The communication scenarios are really good at making sure you explain and communicate information to a patient in a logical and well-constructed manner. The textbook also provides extra pieces of information which aids you if the patient has any extra concerns or if the examiner asks any questions at the end.

In general, the the text is easy to read and the layout is very good (it doesn't feel like you're reading endless amounts of text!) and the pictures from the examination scenarios help to visualise what you need to physically do when performing an examination.

Overall, I would recommend this book since the information provided is clear, informative, and very engaging which helps when you feel like you have to remember a lot of information!
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on 7 August 2012
Great book that I found really useful for my OSCE in 3rd year. No doubt it will be making an appearance again come 5th year. Would strongly recommend this book to anyone even if you aren't struggling with OSCEs. Nice concise information on what to get accross in explanation stations too.
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on 26 June 2012
Very clear, easy to reference and informative guide. Arrived on time, and came in really useful for the end of year osce, as well as for my elective work experience on AMU. No doubt I'll dipping back throughout year 5. Highly recommended.
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on 30 April 2015
A very popular book among many medical students, I found it was well worth its fame. It was interesting to discover that it started as a collection of final year medical students’ revision notes. Through reviews by senior faculty and subsequent revisions, it is now a comprehensive guidebook for translating all you have learned into OSCE success. Refreshingly, the book has certainly not lost the lightness of student notes and concisely covers most of the topics necessary to get you through your exams.

Every chapter is laid out clearly, which allows for quick revision. Boxes and tables are used to optimise the information on each topic. The history-taking chapter includes common presentations and breaks down symptoms, differentials and management. This structure is useful to keep in mind and, once in your head, you can easily apply it to any scenario. The chapter on examinations breaks down the techniques you need to master and suggests acronyms and other little tricks to aid recall. The presenting boxes in the chapters are of great help to help you develop the spiel to complete your examination in a slick manner.

Yes, this book is not going to be your one-stop shop to learning how to practice Medicine and sometimes you need to go to more specialised texts to gain full understanding of the topics. This is, however, not the aim of the book. Furthermore, if you wish to delve deeper into any of the topics, there are the other “Unofficial guide” books to help you in the same student-friendly, clear and concise manner. Certainly recommend it!
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on 13 September 2015
Many challenges face a medical student preparing for finals, the first, and possibly most daunting, is attempting to distil the infinite pool of medical knowledge into manageable chunks for revision. The second is finding a reliable source of information that can be trusted to provide the key information, as well as a selection of tips and tricks to help a student stand out from their peers. The Unofficial Guide To Passing OSCEs provides exactly this in a clear and concise manner which can be invaluable during the final phases of revision, when students are seeking to refine and supplement their technique.

The book is divided by OSCE station type, with each topic covering the key steps, findings and differential diagnoses of the major specialties. There is also a section on common communication stations and procedures, which provides a step-by-step guide using diagrams and photographs to illustrate techniques.

What makes this book a must-buy for any medical student is the fact that it is written by junior doctors who have only recently sat finals, making it easy to follow and specifically targeted to passing the OSCE.
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on 7 October 2012
I bought this book to prepare for my third years OSCEs and it was fantastic. I used it more than traditional textbooks as it is more student friendly. Whilst teaching medics in the year below I used this book as a model and advised them that it would be a good investment for their OSCEs.

I thouroughly recommend this book for anyone worrying about revising for OSCEs as it talks you through likely stations and gives you advice all the way through the book.

Like a couple of other people I have had a few problems with the binding and my book has quite a lot of sellotape holding pages in - however, this shows how much I use it and will continue to for my finals! An excellent book so well done to everyone involved!
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on 1 May 2015
During medical school I have found this book to be a useful textbook during revision for my OSCE exams. It is useful from day one of your clinical years. It takes you through histories and examinations and then through body systems. The use of pictures supplements your learning as you don’t have to imagine what to do as you can see what you should do.

This textbook goes beyond just explaining what to do by including relevant differentials; investigations and management plans for commonly examined conditions. A strong point of this book is that it helps to improve your approach on how to present your findings. The communication chapter and counselling stations are better than I have encountered in other textbooks. I knew that if I couldn’t find a topic in another book I was quite likely to find it in this.

I think it is important to be mindful that NICE guidelines should be checked for certain counselling stations as guidelines will change more frequently than the book is updated. For certain specialties if more detailed is required a more specialist book may also be needed. Aside from these points, its layout could be a bit better with stations not beginning half way down a page.

Essentially, how each individual uses this book is different. I found that it supplemented my OSCE revision and helped me gain a good foundation across all domains of the OSCE exam.
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