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Australian Medical Council Exam: How Hard? Preparing for AMC Exam.

The AMC Exam

This Post is Part of a Series on All You need to know about the Medical Career Pathway in Australia.

If you search enough on Google and look enough on facebook you will readily find lots of opinions about the Australian Medical Council examinations process. Given that a lot of the readers of this blog are international doctors we wanted to present you with some factual information about the AMC exams. So we have engaged some real doctors who are currently going through or have been through the process.

In relation to the question about how hard the Australian Medical Council Exam is. The answer to this obviously depends on a range of factors, including how much time you put into preparing for the exam and how close your own medical school training is to the Australian context. There are actually two separate exams to complete the AMC. A Part 1 Multiple Choice Exam and a Part 2 Clinical Exam. According to the latest report from the AMC in one year, there were 2663 AMC MCQ (Part 1 Exams) sat with 1,559 candidates passing. That's a pass rate of about 58%. For the AMC Clinical Exam 597 candidates passed out of 2,165 candidates assessed. That's less than a 28% pass rate. So we would say that the first part of the AMC exam is fairly hard and the second part is extremely hard.

Read on to find out more about the process of the AMC Exam, including how best to prepare.

Eligibility Requirements for the AMC

In order to be able to sit for the AMC you must first establish what is called a portfolio

  1. You first create a registration with the AMC website.
  2. You should also check that your medical degree is awarded by an institution recognized by the AMC. The AMC recognizes most but not all medical schools which are listed with the World Directory of Medical Schools. There is a handy search on the AMC site.
  3. You must then also create an EPIC account and confirm your identity with the ECFMG (located in the United States).
  4. You get an EPIC id in about 3 working days, which you use to establish your AMC portfolio.
  5. You upload your qualifications to EPIC. As you do so YOU MUST REQUEST that EPIC send a report to the AMC.
  6. EPIC notifies you and the AMC when they have completed their check.

This whole process will cost you $500 AUD to register with the AMC and about $205 USD for EPIC (more if you are wanting more than one qualification verified).

Once EPIC reports back in the affirmative to the AMC you will be allowed to request to sit for the AMC Part 1 Examinations.

There is no actual work experience requirement to sit the AMC Part 1 Examination and you can, in fact, start preparing for this whenever you like. But of course, you will not be able to sit the exam without a verified medical degree. So you can start studying for it in medical school but won't be able to sit it till after you graduate.

The Part 1 MCQ Examination

The AMC Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) MCQ Examination is a computer-administered fully integrated multi-choice question examination delivered in one sitting that lasts 3 and a half hours.

There are regular invigilated examinations in Australia as well as a number of sessions available in examination across the world.

The examination itself consists of 150 “A-type MCQs”. You must select the one correct response from amongst five options. 120 of the questions are “live” questions, which mean they count towards your score. The remaining 30 questions are being piloted and don't count towards your final score. You do not know which questions are being piloted so you have to give your best for all 150.

You are expected to complete all 150 items and must complete the 120 scored items. Failure to complete all 120 scored items in the examination may lead to insufficient information for a reliable determination of your ability and therefore a result on the AMC adaptive scale.

According to the AMC the MCQ Examination

focuses on basic and applied medical knowledge across a wide range of topics and disciplines, involving understanding of the disease process, clinical examination, diagnosis, investigation, therapy and management, as well as on the candidate’s ability to exercise discrimination, judgment and reasoning in distinguishing between the correct diagnosis and plausible alternatives.

AMC MCQ Examination Booklet

So the questions are a mix of more basic knowledge as well as clinically focused. The standard is set at the level of a newly qualified graduate of Australian medical schools, who is about to commence intern training.

The content is “blueprinted” according to patient groups as follows:

Adult Health (Medicine)Adult Health (Surgery)Women’s Health (Obs) (Gyn)Child HealthMental HealthPopulation HealthTOTAL
352515151515120


There are many different books you can study to pass the exam but there is no right or wrong answer to which book needs to be studied. The AMC has a long list of books and other sources that they recommend for the examination some of which can only be bought in the AMC bookstore.

You may read all the books in this world and still fail or you may read just one book and pass the exam. Many candidates are currently preferring to study John Murtagh's General Practice book. Along with this it is important to be practising examination questions. So you really should study the Handbook of Multiple Choice Questions with explanations and try to do as many past papers as possible.

Some candidates still prefer to do Kaplan USMLE Step 2 lecture notes in place of John Murtagh. The advantage of Murtagh over Kaplan notes is that Murtagh can be studied for the clinical exam also.

You should practice as many MCQs as you can. There is also an official online practice exam through the AMC website.

Strict Rules For the MCQ Examination

Sitting the AMC Exam involves first registering to do the exam with the AMC and then paying the required fee. You then must register with the exam centre vendor which is currently Pearson-Vue. You have a 12-month authorisation period to select an exam. You can change your exam venue within a limited period of time but once you are locked in it is difficult to alter your date and time.

You need to bring appropriate identification with you on the day.

There are strict rules for the MCQ exam which you must abide by. You should read all the official instructions carefully. You are not allowed to bring tissues (e.g. Kleenex), paper of any kind, pens/pencils, or rulers. Your mobile phone must be switched off and placed in an allocated area of the room. Bags are also placed in the allocated area of the room. Food and drinks are not allowed in the computer examination room.

They provide you with a whiteboard and pen for making notes. The whiteboard is collected by examination supervisors at the completion of the examination.

Family members are not allowed to wait in the examination venue. They must wait outside the building of the examination venue.

Because the MCQ exam is computerized you will receive your result fairly quickly in about 4 weeks. You get a print out which indicates where you performed overall, as well as the range for all candidates appearing for that particular exam. You also get a breakdown of your performance in the question domains. This is useful if you don't pass to know where to put your efforts next time.

You need to score 250 or more to pass. Less than 60% of candidates pass. Although this score is probably depressed somewhat by those candidates sitting more than once.

It currently costs $2,720 to sit for the MCQ.

The AMC Clinical Examination Part 2

Once you pass AMC MCQ exam, you are then able to appear for the AMC Clinical exam. These are all held in Melbourne at the AMC's purpose built examination centre.

Clinical Exam Format

The Clinical exam format is a 20-station multidisciplinary structured clinical exam which assesses your skills in Medicine, Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry. There are 14 scored stations, 2 pilot (non-scored) stations and 4 rest (non-scored) stations.

As of 2019 the result is graded as either clear pass or clear fail. Prior to this borderline candidates were offered a retest. However, the AMC found that the time between examination and retest was becoming so long that the results were not meaningful.

You must pass 10 or more of the stations to pass the exam. The pass rate is incredibly low. About 28%

It is recommended that you should study the Handbook of Clinical Assessment and practice roleplays as much as you can. You may want to attend a course. Candidates also study different notes such as Karen notes, and the VMPF notes. John Murtagh's General Practice is also worth revising.

It is extremely wise to form a study group and there are many groups around where you can practice what is called “recalls”, which is when a candidate who has previously sat the exam attempts to reconstruct the station.

The cost of sitting the Clinical Examination is currently $3,530.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What If the AMC does not recognize my medical school?

Answer: It is possible that your school is new or has not been considered by the AMC. Check first that it is on the World Directory of Medical Schools. You can enquire of the AMC if they will accept your school but there is no guarantee.

Question: How often can I sit the MCQ exam?

Answer: As many times as you want. But given its cost most people try to only sit it once. Like most other exams your chances of passing are best the first time and diminish over time.

Question: How often can I sit the Clinical exam?

Answer: You can sit as many times as you want but there has often been a backlog so the AMC over the years has tended to prioritize newer candidates. Again it costs a lot of money to sit this exam and your chances of passing diminish as you repeat the exercise.


Question: Do you need to clear one of the English language tests, such as IELTS or OET to sit for the AMC MCQ Part 1?

Answer: No. It might be wise to put this off till after you have passed the MCQ Part 1 as their is a time limit over which the result can be accepted.

Question: Do you need to have cleared and English language test, such as the IELTS or OET to apply for an internship and a work visa?

Answer: Yes, you definitely do. Unless you can prove your english language proficiency in other ways which is normally difficult for most IMGs.

Question: How high should you score in your English test?

Answer: From a regulatory point of view an overall band score of 7.0. with a minimum of 7.0 in each component is required for the IELTS. Similarly, for the OET, an overall score of B and a minimum of score B in all four components is required. However, many employers will look at these results and look for candidates with even better scores than the minimum.

Question: Do you need to clear the AMC Clinical Exam Part 2 to apply for a position?

Answer: No you don't. But if you get a position prior to completing your Part 2, you will have to clear it as part of your provisional registration before you can apply for general registration. Generally speaking candidates with both AMC Part 1 and 2 are preferred by employers. over just Part 1.

Question: Are their alternatives to the AMC Exam process?

Answer: For an IMG coming through the Standard Pathway there is no alternative to sitting the MCQ.

If you don't wish to come through the Standard Pathway then your only other options are to try to gain full registration in one of the other competent authority pathway countries first, for e.g. completed the PLAB in the UK. But if your ultimate goal is to work in Australia then this is really delaying things.

In relation to the clinical examinations you may be eligible to undertake work place based assessment as an alternative to the AMC Clinical Examination if you are able to gain a position at one of the 10 services which are authorised by the AMC to conduct workplace based assessment for the AMC Certificate.

Services which offer Workplace Based Assessment

Program providerLocation
Central Coast
Local Health District
Gosford and Wyong,
New South Wales
Flinders Rural Health SAMount Gambier Hospital,
South Australia
Hunter New England Local Health DistrictNewcastle, Armidale and Tamworth,
New South Wales
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health DistrictISLHD Hospitals,
New South Wales
Launceston General HospitalLaunceston General Hospital;
North West Regional Hospital,
Burnie; and Royal Hobart Hospital,
Tasmania
Mid North Coast Local Health DistrictKempsey District Hospital (with some support from Port Macquarie Base Hospital), New South Wales
Monash HealthVictoria
Rural and Outer Metropolitan United Alliance (ROMUA)Goulburn Valley Health, Shepparton,
Victoria
WA Country Health ServiceBunbury, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie,
Western Australia
Wide Bay Hospital and Health ServiceHervey Bay and Maryborough Hospitals,
Queensland

Useful Resources:

Australian Medical Council Website

AMC MCQ Guide

AMC Clinical Examination Guide

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Nawaf Dandachi

Nawaf Dandachi

Nawaf is an International Doctor who completed his medical education in Cyprus. He passed the AMC Part 1 Exam on November 20118 and is preparing for the AMC Clinical Exam.

73 thoughts on “Australian Medical Council Exam: How Hard? Preparing for AMC Exam.”

      1. Hi Anthony , please I just graduated this month from med school and I intend to practice in Australia. I want to prepare and take the amc step 1 and God’s Grace I pass then I’ll start preps for step 2. But please I need your general advice on how to go about it all.
        You can email me please [email protected] .
        Thanks

        1. Hello graduated in 2016 in Italy, then Iworked for a year in a nursing home, I took a break and I did a master in public health. Would it be too late to apply for amc? Is there any time limit from the time you graduate (or as in my case when you obtain the licence?)

    1. Hello Dr Anu, can you please enlighten how did you find AMC 1 on the basis of toughness of exam? And how did you prepare for it?
      You can mail me at
      [email protected]
      It would be generous of you, thank you.

    2. Hi Anthony
      Can I take the mcq and clinicals exam right after my graduation from med school?
      In other words is that okay not to have any work experience in my country?

  1. After clearing AMC Part 1, which Visa should be applied to visit Melbourne for AMC Part 2
    Kindly assist.
    Also which VISA should be best to start working in Australia as a General Practitioner.
    Many thanks

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Hardik you would be able to apply for a visitors visa to come to Australia to do the Clinical Exam. You require an employment offer in order to apply for a work visa. Normally your employer helps you to arrange this.

      1. Hi Anthony,
        Can you recommend any course for MCQ AMC preparation? I found one face-to-face course with ARIMGSAS which cost $3,000. Do you have any experience if this course is worthwhile to prepare for MCQ? I also subscribe to Prepengo… Many thanks.

        Regards,
        Predrag

  2. Dr Deepti Raina

    Hi,
    After clearing AMC part 2, how easy or difficult it is to find a job if one already has an Australian Permanent Residency?
    Also kindly guide on the process to register with AHPRA after clearing part 2.
    Regards

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Deepti If you have both parts of your AMC and permanent residency you are in a very good position to gain a job as you will be placed above similar candidates who are on termporary resident visas. You don’t register with AHPRA after clearing Part 2. You have to wait till you have an employment offer.

  3. Hi Anthony,

    May you recommend any course to prepare MCQ AMC test? I found one face-to-face course with ARIMGSAS which cost $3,000. Is it worthwhile to do this course to prepare for the test? I also subscribe to Prepengo..
    Thanks.

    Regards,
    Predrag

      1. Hello, I know this is very subjective but on average, how long does it take to prepare the AMC exam? I also noticed there are no questions regrading biochemiatry chemistry etc (like precliniclinical questions). Am I getting it right?

          1. Anthony Llewellyn

            Hi I don’t have a question bank for the AMC. The AMC itself publishes example MCQs. Many of the course providers have them. As do many of the recall groups online.

  4. Suppose if i clear amc part 1 and part2 ,will i be able practice in US and UK without giving USMLE and PLAB respectively????

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hello, Sagar, my understanding is that you would have to still do the PLAB in the UK and I am presuming its the same case for the USMLE.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hello Annu
      I have spoken to Shahriar’s Medical Academy and they appear to run a good course. They are on facebook and online.
      Similarly, I have heard good things about Dr. Matthew Fayez. He operates via facebook.

  5. hi i am dr shoyeb
    could you please tell me, if once amc mcq exam is given and fails,so next try would be same fee for mcq exam? and same for clinical exam !

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Dr Shoyeb
      You can have as many attempts as you like at either exam. The fee is the same each time.

  6. Is it possible to apply for permanent residency as an immigrant doctor without first taking the AMC mcq exam? If yes, how can it be done?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Ruth yes this is possible. There are a number of routes to PR. These include spousal and family routes as well as through work. Often you need to have been on a visa for a certain period of time.

      1. Mohamed Hassan

        Hi Dr.Anthony,

        I am a SriLankan and I Have completed my MBBS in an Australian medical council recognized university in bangladesh and have completed the one year supervised training in the same medical college hospital and I need to know whether ,
        1) We need work experience other than internship (I have done rotational internship program 3 months each in medicine , surgery, gynae & obstetrics and 1 month of Paediatrics and 2 more months of peripheries)
        2) Do I need srilankan registration as I have completed the degree in Bangladesh( I have Bangladesh provisional registration for one year in which I completed my internship)
        3) Do I need permanent work in SriLanka (my own country)
        to get eligible to work in Australia

        All this problems arose after one of friend said that AHPRA is requesting 3 years work experience other than internship and you need registration in motherland. Kindly help me in regarding these.

        Thank you.

        1. Anthony Llewellyn

          Hello you should have full registration in another country to apply. The 3 year issue is about recency of practice, i.e. have you worked in the last 3 years as a doctor.

          1. Mohamed Hassan

            I just finished my 12 month supervised training period
            (I graduated 1 year back)
            And as I’m not a Bangladeshi I got provisional registration in Bangladesh to finish my internship for one year

  7. Hello Anthony,

    I’m an Australian currently studying (2nd year) medicine overseas. What pathway must I follow to work in Australia? The AMC mqc & clinical exams?
    Thanks

  8. Hello Anthony
    I did not understand one thing. If i passed Usmle step 1, 2 and i too ECFMG certificate…what it will give me>? should i still have to do AMC aqc ? of no need? And what is advantage to pass USMLE exam before doing AMC?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hello Akmurat

      The ECFMG is a check of your primary medical degree. The AMC requires this for all IMG doctors wanting to work here.

      USMLE 1 and 2 is not helpful here unless you also have 3 and the required amount of supervision time.

      In other words there is no point sitting the USMLE as a route to working in Australia unless you feel that you have a chance of meeting all the requirements.

  9. Hello Anthony,
    I am a doctor from Germany with 4 years work (I did not finish my german residency, which would be taking 6 years in total) experience in general practice but I worked for the last 8 years in research. I now live in rural QLD with my husband and holding a PR. I was planning to start working in general practice with a limited registration in an area of need again.
    Now I read that 3 Years full time work are required within the last 10 years to be eligible to work in general practice.
    I have only 1,5 years within the last 10 years. What would be the best way to start in general practice in Australia again ? Very grateful for any advice.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Anna

      That’s a tricky one. One route is to go via the AMC pathway and obtain your general registration doing hospital positions and then reapply for General Practice. My colleague Rebecca Stewart at MedEdExperts may be able to help you more. https://mededexperts.com.au/

  10. HELLO ANTHONY
    I wanted to ask after clearing AMC step 1 can i apply for job as RMO here in australia and then give step 2 ?? please please help me in this. Thank you in advance

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Yes. You can. You may wish to check out my YouTube Channel (Career Doctor) for more info on this.

  11. Hi Anthony ,
    please am currently in my 5th year in med school and I intend to practice in Australia. Please I need your general advice on how to Start preparing for AMC exams while in school. I will glad to hear from you..
    You can email me please [email protected] .
    Thanks

  12. Hello Anthony,
    Can we give the english test after AMC step2?
    or do we need it before giving AMC step 2?

    Thank you

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Yes. You can do this after Part 2. But most do it after Part 1. As you need it to be able to get registered to work.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi, Ghada there are plenty of places to get recommendations for the AMC. I’m not in the habit of individually emailing people who just want general advice.

  13. Hi, I am Ajay, final year mbbs student from India. I will be finishing my internship from my college only and my college is accepted according to Austaralian medical board. Could u please guide me on how to prepare for AMC step 1 and the formalities after that and time duration it takes and on how difficult is to get an internship in australia(if it is necessary or not)

  14. Hi
    I have graduated from a medical school in Denmark but didn’t work yet.
    What is best pathway is it to take amc exams or to take internship in Denmark and would that help me to avoid taking the amc ? Thanks

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi, Rawaa I would recommend commencing your internship in Denmark whilst also sitting the AMC exams. Internship in Denmark will not get you around the need to do the AMC exams.

  15. Hi, I am Erkan from Turkey. I have read in the forums that people are waiting 18-22 months between AMC MCQ and AMC Clinical Examination because when they apply for their preferred clinical examination date, clinical examination is scheduled to a date which is approximately 2 years after their application date. And if you fail the clinical examination, waiting time for retaking it is approximately 2 years too. Is that true?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi, Erkan I’m not sure where you are getting this information from. In the past, there have been excessive waiting times for the AMC clinical. But the AMC has increased the number of places significantly. And according to their website “Currently there is no wait time to get a placement in the AMC Clinical examination and places are allocated on a first-come, first served basis.” You can only register for one exam at a time. So there is a bit of a wait if you fail the first time.

  16. Hi there I’m a final year medical student who will complete in about 6 months time… I wanna know if I can apply for a permanent residency in Australia while I prepare to take the AMC?

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Possibly but unlikely. It would depend on what your circumstances are. Normally you have to have been on a working visa for a while before being able to apply for PR.

  17. Hello

    Does the MCQ “expire”? If I take the MCQ, and then hope to do the clinical once working in Australia, is there a time period after which I would have to rewrite the MCQ?

    Thanks

  18. Dear Anthony,
    I am living in UK for past 10years, I didn’t practice as s doctor in here for some home issues but I want to try AMC exam and want to work in Australia. Any possibility for me?
    I am sooo fed up in my life.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi Subi

      Sorry to hear that thing are not going for you as you would like. Have you attempted the PLAB process in the UK? I would say that it will be difficult preparing for and passing the AMC with 10 years out of Medicine.

  19. Hi Dr Anthony! Thanks for thr help you’ve giving so far. I got IELTS bands 9, 8,7.5 and 6.5. I wanted to know whether that was enough to apply for the AMC MCQ and eventually secure a job offer after that.

    1. Anthony Llewellyn

      Hi, Its disappointing that you did so well in some aspects but narrowly missed in one. The Medical Board will let you sit the test again and if you pass over all that time and improve the area you got the 6.5 to a 7 will be ok to register you.

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