Studying for GPST Stage 3

Stage 3 or Selection Assessment Center is the third and final step for entering GP training. This article covers how you can study for this exam. You can read more about the overview of the application process here.


Stage 3 Pattern

The exam has two sections:

1. Consultation Skills.

This exercise has three parts.

  1. Consultation with a patient.
  2. Consultation with a patient’s relative.
  3. Consultation with a healthcare professional.
    Time: 10 minutes for each consultation.

2. Written Prioritisation.

As the name suggests, this is a written prioritisation exercise. You will be expected to prioritize five tasks. You will need to justify your choices and describe what action you would take in those scenarios. You will also need to reflect on these actions at the end.
Time: 30 minutes.


When to Start Preparation?

It is ideal to start preparation for Stage 3 right after taking Stage 2 (MSRA).


Preparation time

20 to 30 hours; the more your practice, the better.



The book GPST Stage 3 by Richard Hughes and Shivani Tana is more than enough for this test. The book contains the following:

  • Detailed guidance about approaching consultations and written exercises.
  • 15 consultations scenarios with the patients, relatives and colleagues, each.
  • 18 Written prioritisation exercises.
  • 5 mock papers.


How to Prepare for the Consultations

Read the introduction chapter first to understand the basics of the consultations. Follow this by reading the consultation exercises. Read the transcripts from chapter 5 before reading actor instruction. This way, you will see how the doctor explores ideas, concerns and expectations without knowing the information given to the actor. After you have read enough exercises, start practicing with someone in exam-like conditions.


How to Prepare for the Written Exercises

Read the introduction chapter first to understand the basics of the written prioritisation exercises. Follow this by reading practice cases and model answers from chapter 2. Once you feel you have read enough exercises, start practicing them in exam-like conditions.



I do not feel there is any need to take any course for this exam as the above-mentioned book covers all aspect of the exam thoroughly. However, if you feel you lack experience of working in the NHS or if you feel you do not have time to read or practice on your own, you can consider taking a course.


Top Tips

  • Read the book as much as you can.
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.
  • During your exam, make yourself believe that you are in a real-life setting.
  • Keep an eye on the clock during the writing task and during consultations as well.


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