Examinations news and dates

Any changes to the timing, content or structure of an exam will appear below. Examination dates, where known, can be found in the relevant dates page for each session:

Spring 2020                                   Autumn 2020 

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Covid-19: Update for all Spring 2020 examination candidates

The College regrets to inform candidates that the Spring 2020 FRCPath, Certificate and Diploma examinations and the first sittings of the Histopathology and Chemical Pathology Stage A examinations have been postponed until further notice in light of the current Covid-19 outbreak.

This decision has been taken after discussion at all levels within the College and has been taken with the best interests of the candidates, examiners and centre organisers in mind.

Candidates have been notified personally of this development.

In light of this decision, The College will be developing more guidance to help Heads of Schools and trainees when carrying out ARCPs in the spring, and working with external stakeholders to support them in developing similar guidance for other candidates, such as clinical scientists, as required.

Further information regarding rescheduled dates for examinations will be available in due course. We will be monitoring the situation carefully over the coming weeks and appreciate your patience as we work to confirm the details going forward. If you wish to withdraw from the examination and receive a refund of your exam fee, rather than have your exam entry deferred, please email exams@rcpath.org. You will still be entitled to a refund if you choose to withdraw later once the new exam dates are confirmed.

The President, Professor Jo Martin, has made a statement regarding the Spring session.

Examinations deferral FAQs

The Examinations Department has received a number of queries with regard to this decision and we aim to cover the most frequently asked questions below. If you have a query with regard to your examination that falls outside these, please contact exams@rcpath.org

Which examinations does this decision affect?

This affects all FRCPath Part 1 and 2, Certificate and Diploma examinations scheduled for Spring 2020 along with the first sitting of the Stage A examinations in Histopathology and Chemical Pathology.

Why has this decision been made?

We have considered a number of alternatives but felt that in the long term a full deferral of all examinations was the most appropriate way forward in order to ensure candidate and examiner wellbeing and to ensure that services to patients are maintained. We were also keen to ensure as much notice as possible of the deferment.

I am in a UK training programme, how will this affect my progression through training?

Guidance will be provided with regard to this in due course following consultation with external stakeholders to ensure that all trainees are guided appropriately at this time. For medical trainees, we will also be working closely with the General Medical Council on the guidance.

When will the new dates for the examinations be released?

This is still in discussion and the new dates will be sent to all candidates and published on the website once they have been agreed. At present, we are unable to indicate when these are likely to take place but we will endeavour to ensure candidates have as much notice as possible of these.

What will happen to my examination fee?

Your examination fee will be retained as we are deferring entries to the new dates. Should the new examination date not be suitable for you then your fee will be refunded and you will be able to reapply for the next available session. Alternatively, please email exams@rcpath.org if you wish to apply for a refund.

Will any expenses I have incurred, such as travel, be reimbursed?

In line with guidance issued by other Colleges, unfortunately, travel, accommodation and any other expenses incurred by candidates cannot be reimbursed. It is worth checking to see if your expenses can be refunded by the provider.

Why have examinations with very small numbers of candidates been cancelled?

Whilst we explored the possibility of still being able to hold some examinations, it was felt that in the interests of candidate and examiner wellbeing, patient and public safety and parity to all candidates that a deferment would involve all specialties.

Can we sit written examinations locally in small groups if our consultants are willing to invigilate?

In order to ensure the security of the examination we did not feel that this was an appropriate alternative to offering the examination in limited centres. Furthermore, given the speed with which things were changing and potential imposed limits on consultant time we could not have been confident of the examination running even with those adjustments.

My examination is only held in the Spring session, will this still go ahead in the deferred session?

We will endeavour to ensure that those examinations only held in a single session will still be able to go ahead this year.

I have to submit a written option towards my Part 2, can I still do this?

Yes, we are still accepting submissions for written options by e-mail. For the time being, please do not send hard copies of your written option by post.

How do I make a complaint about this decision?

Please follow our complaints procedure.

Exam news and dates

Changes to the exam application process

The College has made improvements to its online examination application process, which means there are some slight changes to the way exam applicants will apply for future examinations.

From the end of November, when applications open for the Spring 2020 examinations, there will be a change in the process for submitting sponsor forms to sit any College examination. Sponsor forms must now be uploaded as part of the online application process, rather than emailed separately to the Examinations Department. The sponsor form will be made available on the applications page, where it can be downloaded and signed before starting the application process. The completed form must then be uploaded as part of the application. All candidates for FRCPath, Certificate, Diploma, Stage A and BMS examinations must upload a completed sponsor form in order to submit the application.

Exam applicants will also now be able to pause their application partway through, using a new Save and Continue function, enabling them to fit applying into a busy working week. Applications can be resumed throughout the duration of the relevant application period. Please note: any applications that are incomplete when the application period closes will not be saved or accepted.

We are excited about the changes to our application form and hope the new streamlined process makes it easier for exam candidates to apply to their chosen examinations.

Applications for the Spring 2020 examinations will open in the last week of November and close on Wednesday 8 January 2020. Potential candidates are strongly encouraged to make their application as early on in the application window as possible, to ensure they have sufficient time to have their sponsor form signed before the closing deadline. Candidates are reminded that, as per the Examinations Regulations and Guidelines, late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

Candidate conduct

While the vast majority of candidates behave with complete integrity, following some recent incidents candidates are reminded that when they apply to sit one of the College's examinations they agree to abide by the Examinations Regulations and Guidelines.

These Regulations and Guidelines include a candidate misconduct policy. Candidate misconduct can take many forms, including memorising questions from an examination and reproducing them elsewhere (regardless of whether this is done for profit).

The College owns the copyright for its examination questions. Unauthorised reproduction of examination questions will be treated as breach of copyright and candidate misconduct.

Penalties for proven candidate misconduct can include declaring the result of an exam void, barring a candidate from applying for College examinations for a specified period, and reporting details of the misconduct to the General Medical Council, Health and Care Professional Council or equivalent regulatory body. Where the College's intellectual property has been infringed, the College also reserves the right to initiate civil proceedings, criminal prosecution or both.

Current and potential examination candidates are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with the College's Examination Regulations and Guidelines, which can he found here.

Changes to the Part 2 examination in Immunology

The FRCPath Part 2 Immunology examination comprises three parts: a practical examination, an oral examination, and a written project.

The General Medical Council has approved the following changes for candidates in a UK medical training programme:

Trainees with a CCT date on or before 30 April 2020

The examination format is unchanged. Trainees must pass the FRCPath Part 2 Immunology examination including the written option as part of the FRCPath Part 2 exam in order to be eligible for a CCT in Immunology.

Trainees with a CCT date on or after 1 May 2020

Trainees must pass the FRCPath Part 2 examination but this does not need to include the written option. Trainees will, however, need to demonstrate that they have completed all relevant Work Place Based Assessments (which will be checked at ARCP) in order to be eligible for a CCT in Immunology.

Arrangements for Clinical Scientists sitting this examination are unchanged.

Part 2 Examination in Histopathology

We are pleased to announce that we will be offering a Part 2 examination centre for Histopathology in Irbid, Jordan in Spring 2019 subject to a sufficient number of candidates wishing to sit the examination there. The examination will be offered in Cairo, Egypt in Spring 2020.

Candidates interested in sitting in Cairo in Spring 2020 should apply online and then e-mail exams@rcpath.org to register their interest in sitting there.

Changes to the Part 1 examination in Clinical Biochemistry from Autumn 2018

The Royal College of Pathologists will introduce a new format for the FRCPath Part 1 Clinical Biochemistry examination from Autumn 2018. The new examination will comprise a single paper of 125 multiple choice questions (MCQs) in single best answer format. 

Changes to the Part 1 examination in Veterinary Clinical Pathology from Spring 2019

From 2019, there will be a change in the format of the Part 1 examination in Veterinary Clinical Pathology. The examination will comprise of two three hour papers each consisting of 20 structured short answer questions: sample questions and some further guidance can be found in the documents below.

Changes to the timing of the Certificate of Higher Cervical Cytology Training

From 2018, this examination will be offered once a year in the Autumn session. 

Timing of the Molecular Pathology Examinations

The Part 1 examination in Molecular Pathology will be offered in the Autumn session only from 2018.

A Part 2 examination in Molecular Pathology will be available annually from Autumn 2017. Further information will be available on the specialty page in due course.

Changes to the Genetics Examinations

From 2018, candidates who have been successful in the Part 1 Practical examination will continue to proceed to the Part 2 Oral examination. Candidates who are successful in the written examination but not the practical examination will proceed to a new format Part 2 Oral and Practical examination in combined Genetics regardless of the written paper taken. The Part 1 written examination will be available in the Autumn session only and the Part 2 practical and oral in the Spring session only. The Part 1 examination will be offered in the combined Genetics only. The standard of the practical in Part 2 will be comparable to the practical in Part 1. 

The Part 2 oral examination in Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics will be available until Spring 2020.

The Part 2 examination will be modularised so candidates will have the option to sit their practical and oral components in separate sittings and in an order which best fits their training. Candidates will no longer need to have passed their Part 2 written option before proceeding to the Part 2 Oral/Practical or Oral examination but must have their project proposal approved prior to the closing deadline for the examination session in which they wish to sit.

Reproductive Science (formerly Clinical Embryology)

Candidates who have previously taken and passed the Part 1 Practical examination will be eligible to proceed to the Part 2 Oral examination until Autumn 2020. This will be offered in both sessions.

Candidates who have passed the Part 1 Written examination but not the Part 1 Practical examination will proceed to the new format Part 2 Oral and Practical Examination, details of which are available on the specialty page for Reproductive Science.

Candidates will no longer need to have passed their Part 2 written option before proceeding to the Part 2 Oral/Practical or Oral examination but must have their project proposal approved prior to the closing deadline for the examination session in which they wish to sit.

Changes to the Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Examinations

From 2018, candidates who have been successful in the Part 1 Practical examination will continue to proceed to the Part 2 Oral examination. Candidates who are successful in either the new format written examination or the old format written examination but not the practical examination will proceed to a new format Part 2 Oral and Practical examination.

Candidates will no longer need to have passed their Part 2 written option before proceeding to the Part 2 Oral/Practical or Oral examination, however from Spring 2020 they must have their project proposal approved prior to the closing deadline for the examination session in which they wish to sit.

Confirmation of routes to FRCPath Part 2 examination in Molecular Pathology 

We have produced guidance on routes to the FRCPath Part 2 examination in Molecular Pathology. Full details can be found on the Molecular Pathology specialty information page