The format of the OSPHE is one that not all candidates will be familiar with. It is important to have sufficient exam practice leading to a clear understanding of the scenario format. It is crucial that candidates practice with the scenarios below, take up all available opportunities to attend mock examinations and discuss the experience of exam sitting with those that have taken the exam before them.
The examples provided below include all the information that is given to the examiners and role players as well as that given to the candidate. In all cases, examiners and role players have access to the briefing material used by the candidate. Also included in each example are summaries of the marking guidance (‘model answers') for each question.
Why candidates fail
The reasons why candidates fail to achieve the expected standard in the OSPHE are variable. To improve their chances of success in the exam, candidates should consider the following when tackling scenarios:
• Apply knowledge gained from the Diplomate exam.
• Use other appropriate knowledge gained outside of that provided in the exam pack
• Plan answers.
• Tailor the interaction to the role player’s situation/job description and avoid inadvertently patronising or bamboozling them.
• Do not argue with the role player. If a role player does not appear receptive, candidates should consider this to be part of their scripted role and focus on how they would respond to this in real life.
• Watch the role player’s body language – show empathy to a confused/upset/angry individual.
• Answer the question set. If it is asked two or more times, review your response carefully.
• Avoid running out of time by starting the response with a long introductory speech, giving information that has not been requested or answering questions the candidate wished had been asked and have not been.
• Engage with the role play and act as advocates for Public Health.
• Review data/definitions/concepts accurately and/or explain or answer questions in a clear, concise, appropriate manner for the role player’s position.
• Be realistic and/or appropriate in response to a request e.g. don’t agree to do an in-depth review of a situation in the next 24 hours or write a report when data are not available etc.
• Use key Public Health principles to formulate an answer even if the topic is one the candidate does not have knowledge of. The option of asking a colleague/supervisor can be useful in certain circumstances if it is clear what questions the candidate needs an answer to.
You may also find it helpful to read the blog 'Top 10 Part B Exam Tips' written by current examiner Kevin Smith.