An MCCQE Part I prep course can be your secret study weapon as you prepare to take the first step in becoming a qualified physician in Canada. The Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) is the first required step ahead of your CaRMS residency application. The MCCQE Part I can be a challenging and exhausting test, and it is designed to assess your readiness for medical graduate training by evaluating the depth and breadth of your entire medical knowledge so far. MCCQE Part I prep courses are designed to help you study better for this next challenge. In this blog, we’ll look at what the MCCQE Part I is, how difficult it is, how a prep course can help you ace it and how to choose the right prep course for you.

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8 min read

What is the MCCQE Part I? How hard is the MCCQE Part I? How a MCCQE Part I prep course can help MCCQE Part I prep course costs Guide to choosing the best MCCQE Part I prep course FAQs

What is the MCCQE Part I?

The Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I is the culmination of your medical school studies and is the first step towards becoming a licensed physician in Canada. The exam is designed to evaluate if medical students are prepared for supervised practice as they prepare to enter their residency years. Once the residency is complete, students were then required to take the MCCQE Part II, which is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), but delivery of the second part of the MCCQE has since been cancelled according to the Medical Council of Canada.

International medical graduates are also required to take the MCCQE Part I after they’ve completed and passed the NAC OSCE, if they plan to pursue an international medical graduate residency in Canada.

Taking the MCCQE Part I is the first step in becoming a qualified physician in Canada, and it covers the breadth of the medical knowledge you learned in school. The MCCQE Part I is based around the Medical Council of Canada objectives, outlined under the CanMEDS roles. In short, the MCC objectives outline what is expected of a Canadian practicing physician, their roles as a medical professional and their expected medical knowledge and skills. If you’re not familiar with these roles or your knowledge of them is weak, a prep course can help you address those knowledge gaps. If you’re an international student and CanMEDS is completely foreign, a good MCCQE Part I prep course will cover the seven CanMEDS roles in detail.

How hard is the MCCQE Part I?

The MCCQE is a fairly rigorous exam consisting of two parts, sometimes held over two separate days. On day one, you will be allotted 4 hours to complete 210 multiple-choice questions testing your medical knowledge, your understanding of a physician’s activities and practice, and the dimensions of medical patient care. On day two, you’ll be presented with 38 hypothetical cases and asked to answer a few questions for each case. You’ll only have 3 and a half hours for this section, so time management is crucial. This section will cover your clinical knowledge and ask you to make patient care and diagnosis decisions. The MCCQE Part I is similar to the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK taken by US medical graduates in format and content.

While an MCCQE Part I prep course is not required to study for this exam, it can certainly be a useful study tool. There are many different prep courses out there, ranging in price, coverage and quality, but they can certainly be an excellent resource for students who need extra guidance or don’t want to rely on independent studying alone to ace this important exam. There are only 3 attempts allowed on the MCCQE Part I, and if you fail to pass on all attempts, you’ll need to wait a year before reapplying. If you’re an anxious test-taker or you want the best results for your MCCQE Part I, a prep course can be a great way to save yourself time, money and stress. Scoring very high on the MCCQE Part I can also give you a better shot of getting into the most competitive residencies in Canada.

If you’re an international medical graduate, an MCCQE Part I prep course can provide you with the tips and tricks you need to tackle this exam and be ready for your residency application. You might also consider taking an NAC OSCE prep course as well, since you’ll need to take this test first.

How a MCCQE Part I prep course can help

If you’ve decided an MCCQE Part I prep course is for you, it’s a good idea to know how they can help you. Choosing the right prep course depends on what is covered and how the prep course will ready you to take this rigorous exam. Prep courses should be a guide to help you learn how to study during residency more efficiently and study better. And for the MCCQE Part I, you’ll need more study prep than high yield study techniques for medical school. You’ll need to not only know the exam’s content but be able to manage your limited time wisely, how to pick the right answers, how to follow instructions and how to manage your nerves. A great prep course will help you in several key areas, which we’ll take a look at below.

Answer Strategy

Prep courses will often teach students proven strategies to answer any type of exam question. In this case, knowing some tips on answering multiple-choice questions can save you some time during your test, especially since you need to answer over 200 questions in a short span of time. For the short answer part of the test, a prep course can also be useful in teaching students strategies for reading and analyzing clinical cases or situations that might be covered on the exam. You’ll also need to carefully read and follow instructions for answering questions on the cases presented to you. Being able to synthetize the important information from the case, analyze it and apply your clinical knowledge to the questions asked takes some practice and strategy, and a prep course can coach you on how to do both well.

Time Management

Time management is a big part of doing well on the MCCQE Part I, considering you have a small window of time and a large amount of information to digest and analyze before you answer questions. For students who struggle with time management, a prep course can be a great way to improve. Taking timed practice tests, for example, can be a huge help as it will give you an idea of how long you should be spending on each question and how to improve your speed.

Study Planning and Strategy

Prep courses can also work to get you organized and prepared well in advance. Useful skills not just for the MCCQE Part I but for your future as a practicing physician, too. Prep courses can help you build a good study schedule and provide you with proven strategies and resources, beyond what you may have used in med school to teach yourself a large volume of medical knowledge. Having a study schedule will break down the exam’s content into sections so you can have all your bases covered. But you can also give yourself extra time in the schedule to study areas of the test you may not be as confident in, such as psychiatry or internal medicine. Knowing your weak spots and having a plan to address them can go a long way during your study time.

Practice Tests and Case Study

The absolute best way to prepare for your MCCQE Part I is to use practice tests and practice analyzing clinical cases. A good MCCQE Part I prep course will have practice quizzes, question banks, examples of clinical cases and questions, and other resources to help you prepare for the actual exam. Practice tests are very effective, but there are other ways to improve your knowledge for the exam, too. For students who need to brush up on the clinical skills portion of the exam, look into how to improve patient assessment skills and refresh your memory of medical maneuvers and steps. If you detest multiple-choice exams, take some practice quizzes with sample answers that might pop up during the MCCQE. IMGs can also consider adding some IMG electives or clinical experience to their resumes before taking their NAC OSCE and MCCQE Part I so they’re more familiar with real clinical cases in Canada.

MCCQE Part I prep course costs

MCCQE Part I prep courses can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the course. Since the exam covers such a large amount of material, many of the prep courses offered are quite intensive and lengthy, too. The longest ones might include several hundred hours of course time and material. Depending on the student, their budget and timeline, these types of courses might be the best option for them. For others, they may not have a few thousand dollars or 400 hours of course study to spare.

It’s important to keep in mind that a prep course may be in-person, online only, or a mix of the two. Some prep courses may offer free versions or free resources and tools alongside a more comprehensive, paid version of MCCQE Part I prep, so take a look at all the options available to you to see which ones suit your needs best.

Many MCCQE Part I prep courses also offer free initial consultations to students, too! Think of these as a test drive of sorts, so you can evaluate if the full prep course is the right fit for you. During the initial consultation, ask plenty of questions about the course coverage, fees, timeline and resources included in the course. Also be sure to start searching for the right prep course as early as possible, so you have time to fit a course into your schedule ahead of exam day.

Guide to choosing the best MCCQE Part I prep course

Choosing the right MCCQE Part I prep course for you can be a challenge in and of itself. But remember that a prep course is an investment, and you want to be sure that it’s worth your time, money and energy. When researching the prep courses available, make a checklist of items you want to see, based on your study habits and areas you need to improve upon. Generally, the three important areas to consider are your budget, your timeline or schedule, and the quality of your chosen prep course.


Medical school, your residency application and even taking the MCCQE Part I is not without its costs, so carefully consider how much you’re willing or able to spend on a prep course. For some students it’s a small price to pay to ensure you go into the MCCQE Part I fully prepared. Even so, take a look at multiple different MCCQE Part I prep courses and compare their cost, services and format to decide which one suits you best.

Course depth and quality

Prep courses are all different. Some have high-quality instructors, others use instructional videos and other teaching tools. Some cover a wide range of exam prep and others only cover the basics of what is on the MCCQE Part I and how to study for it. If you want the best preparation you can get, look for a MCCQE Part I prep course which offers personalized feedback, practice tests, a fairly in-depth look at the exam, study strategies, and one-on-one instruction if possible. The best paid prep courses will offer something you can’t get just from reading study guides or watching study videos. Good quality courses will offer you the most for your money and cover more than just what topics you can expect to see on your exam.


Your timeline is also critically important. Some prep courses are lengthy and take a deep dive into the MCCQE Part I. Which can be an advantage, but not if you’re running short on time. It’s best to start your MCCQE prep as early as possible, so you have time to study, take the test, re-take the test if necessary, and still have time to prepare and submit your CaRMS application before the match. Having a solid CaRMS timeline is useful in this case so you can block out how many weeks you have available just for exam prep.


1. What is the MCCQE Part I?

The Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination Part I is the culmination of your medical school studies. It is an exam that is designed to test your readiness for supervised, clinical medical graduate work in a residency program. It is the first step towards becoming a licensed physician in Canada.

2. Is the MCCQE Part I hard?

This exam can be quite challenging. You must answer 210 multiple-choice questions as well as answer questions on 38 clinical cases in a relatively short time period. The exam covers the full breadth of your medical schooling and your clinical knowledge and assessment skills.

3. Do you need a prep course for MCCQE Part I?

While a prep course is not required to pass this test, it can definitely be a huge help when studying for this important exam. For students who want some extra guidance or study tips to help them, a prep course can be a cost-efficient and effective study resource.

4. What do MCCQE Part I prep courses help with?

A good MCCQE Part I prep course will cover all aspects of the exam, and include mock tests, practice questions or practice clinical case study, as well as effective study strategies, time management coaching and tips on how to answer exam questions.

5. How much do MCCQE Part I prep courses cost?

MCCQE Part I prep courses can vary in cost, from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the length of the course and what is offered. Many of the prep courses offered can be quite intensive and in-depth, or are taught by expert instructors, so command a higher price. 

6. Is a MCCQE Part I prep course worth it?

For international medical graduates, students who struggle with test-taking or students who want to earn the highest exam score they can so they can get into competitive residencies, taking a prep course can be extremely helpful.

7. How do I find the best MCCQE Part I prep course?

When choosing the right prep course for you, it’s important to consider your budget, your timeline and the quality of the prep courses offered. You’ll want to choose the prep course that meets your needs and will actually aid you in your studies, but that won’t break the bank or take too much time to complete before exam day.

8. Is the MCCQE Part I required?

Yes; all medical graduates looking to apply for a residency position in Canada need to pass the MCCQE Part I.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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