Recently successful MRCP (UK) candidates were asked to rate the value of clinical experience, reading, practice with past or simulated examination papers and commercially organised courses as preparation for parts 1 and 2 of the examination. With respect to part 1, practice with past and simulated papers was unanimously felt to be of crucial importance with examination-focused reading helpful. Clinical experience was deemed irrelevant and commercially organised courses a matter of individual choice. For part 2, clinical experience was felt to be of fundamental importance but needed to be practised in an 'examination atmosphere'. Both general reading and practice with past and simulated papers were judged helpful and commercially organised courses were perceived to be of more value than for part 1. Trainees should be advised to seek advice on examination preparation from both 'authoritative sources' and their recently successful colleagues.