Exam preparation resources

The National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) examination assesses the competence of international medical graduate candidates; specifically, the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for entrance into postgraduate training in Canada. The following resources will aid candidates in preparing for the NAC examination.

Examination day
Orientation presentation
Medical Council of Canada (MCC) reference documents
Objectives for the Qualifying Examination
Communication and Cultural Competence orientation program
Transition to DSM-5
Reference books
Online reference materials 
General IMG information

Examination day

The duration of the examination itself is approximately three hours. However, candidates should anticipate six and a half to seven hours for the administration of the exam. For security reasons, candidates in certain cities may be required to arrive at a designated time prior to the examination and remain on site until a designated time following the examination. Specific instructions will be provided with the registration package prior to the examination date.

All candidates are required to function in a simulated clinical situation and must bring with them a plain white lab coat, a stethoscope and a reflex hammer. For a complete overview of the NAC examination regulations, candidates are encouraged to review the guidelines to follow on the day of the examination.

Orientation presentation

Medical Council of Canada (MCC) reference documents

NAC examination candidates are encouraged to review common mistakes made on objective structured clinical examination stations.

Objectives for the Qualifying Examination

Using the Objectives for the Qualifying Examination as a study guide may be helpful for candidates taking the NAC examination. The Objectives serve as the basis for the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE) and the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I and Part II. These Objectives also serve as a general overview of possible test material that may appear on the NAC examination. Note that the Objectives are organized in terms of clinical presentations.

Communication and Cultural Competence orientation program

To obtain comprehensive information about Canadian medical practice, and in particular the communication skills and cultural competencies required for patient-centered care, candidates can consult the Communication and Cultural Competence self-education program on physiciansapply.

Transition to DSM-5

In May 2013 the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The Medical Council of Canada has worked with its test committees to review the classification changes in DSM-5 and update the language in its exam content from the previous edition, DSM-IV-TR.

On the NAC Examination, candidates answering questions asked by the physician examiner can use either DSM-5 or DSM-IV-TR language where appropriate. However, as of January 2018, only DSM-5 language must be used.

For more information, please visit the MCC’s update on its transition to DSM-5.

Reference books

Prior to the examination, individuals who are unfamiliar with disease management practices in North America may wish to consult Therapeutic Choices edited by Jean Gray, published by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, as a source of general information.

Online reference materials

The following online reference materials may be of use to candidates preparing for the NAC examination:

General IMG information

IMGs can also visit our Overview of the process of obtaining a licence to practise medicine for IMGs page for general information on beginning the process of obtaining a licence to practise medicine in Canada.