Frequently Asked Questions
Autumn Examinations Q&A
View the questions that were answered at the webinar held on Friday 7 August.
An obvious concern with candidates able to take the exam at home is that it will essentially be 'open book!' Is there too much reliance on probity?
Candidates will be fully live proctored via their webcam so any incidences of suspicious behaviour, such as repeated looking in a particular direction (e.g. downwards glances as if to look at a phone) or excessive toilet breaks, will be raised by the invigilator.
Can you go back to any questions as you would be able to in person exam or 1 question answered and uploaded?
Please see the previously published Online FAQ document regarding this:
Could candidates take it at work with a consultant educator monitoring the exam (or perhaps have e.g. 5 socially distanced candidates at each hospital site)
You can take the examination in your workplace but it must be taken online in isolation from other candidates.
Could the exam be open book to make it fair across the board? Would help eliminate concerns re cheating.
The examinations will not be made open book and candidates are expected to abide by the Regulations and Guidelines which includes the Candidate Misconduct Policy.
For haematology part 2 there are currently dates for October listed. January dates tbc, just checking if these are in addition to the October ones (not instead)?
Yes, this is in addition to the October ones, not instead.
For international candidates, will they be allowed to withdraw penalty free closer to the exam if local COVID restrictions prevent travel?
Yes, that is correct, if COVID restrictions prevent travel you will be allowed to withdraw penalty free - however, please note we will require evidence as to why you cannot attend the exam.
Given the low pass rate have the college put in place measures to provide guidance or support for candidates, for instance a virtual lecture series?
There are a number of revision courses and mock examinations available but these are not affiliated with the College.
Haematology part 2 exam: Are these going to have microscope-based slide assessment, short and long cases, or is it going to be digital morphology assessment?
This will remain a microscope-based slide examination.
There are still significant costs involved in setting up online examinations including software, licencing and proctoring costs which are covered by examination fees.
How many centres will be across the country for FRCPath Part 2 exam and how many candidates per centre?
We will confirm centres with candidates soon, but we can confirm there will be more centres than normal to accommodate fewer candidates per centre, so candidates can adequately social distance.
I feel we will be tested on our typing skills not haematology knowledge. Will more time be allowed to accommodate typing?
As per previous published guidance, an additional 5 minutes per hour will be given for written papers.
If a candidate at short notice cannot sit the Histopathology part 2 exam in Oct (self- isolation/COVID) could there be places left available in Jan for them?
Candidates who cannot attend the exam in October 2020 will not be able to take it in January 2021, and instead will have to wait until Spring 2021. There may be some case by case exceptions to this.
If you cannot secure a January date rather than October, will you still be able to withdraw even if it is after 3rd August?
Part 2 Histopathology candidates have already been informed of which date they have been allocated to.
Once a final decision has been made with regard to Haematology, candidates will be asked for their preference (if a January sitting is going ahead). Candidates who do not receive their preferred date and are unable to sit the exam on the date allocated will be entitled to withdraw with a refund.
Is it still acceptable to make paper notes alongside completing the exam online e.g. when planning answers to the essay questions?
This is covered in the previously published Online FAQ document (below), but no, it will not be possible for candidates to make paper-based notes whilst completing online examinations to preserve the integrity of the examination. Notes and annotations can be made on the online software. Update: candidates may now use a small, handheld whiteboard for making notes during the exam. Please see the Online FAQ below for full details.
A number of Part 2 examinations have already been modularised where it is practical to do so, such as Clinical Biochemistry, Genetics and Immunology. There are no plans to modularise any specialties which have not already taken this route.
Reasonable adjustments will be granted in line with the recommendations made in your supporting evidence. If you have been given additional time, then this will be included. Font sizes and colour backgrounds will be able to be changed within the TestReach system.
The face to face components of the OSPE will be delivered on a separate day to the written stations via video conferencing.
Part 2 Histopathology - Scotland is a single Deanery and our candidates normally have to go outside of Scotland to sit the exam. Will this be relaxed?
Yes, this will be relaxed. We would like to reduce travel as much as possible.
TestReach is fully GDPR compliant. Video footage will be temporarily stored in line with GDPR. This is strictly for the purposes of investigating incidents that may take place during an examination. For oral examinations, video footage will be temporarily stored for moderation purposes.
The dates for the FRCPath Microbiology part 2 are three days rather than two, will all candidates sit part of the exam on each of the three days?
Yes - the third day has been added to facilitate the face to face stations of the OSPE.
The delay in the exam has cost me heavily personally. What will the college do if it delays the exam again for those who should have finished and CCT’d by now.
The Autumn examinations will be going ahead as planned with the advertised changes in delivery.
The Part 1 FRCPath for Histopathology is planned to be held over multiple dates. How will the exam standards be kept regarding questions?
The Part 1 in Histopathology is being held on a single date - 30 September.
the wait between the exam and result day is very long especially for those whose exam was cancelled in spring- will it be possible to release results earlier?
Results take time to be processed, including marking and moderation, so it will not be possible to bring forward the results date.
What are the plans about the subspecialty exams - paediatric & perinatal, Neuropath and forensic pathology exams? Will they be held in the same format as histopathology?
These will be held as normal but with social distancing and enhanced hygiene practices in place.
What does an environment check involve and what criteria must the environment fulfil? If there is an issue with the environment how is this normally resolved?
The environment check ensures that candidates have no ready access to material such as text books, notes or other electronic devices. The invigilator will ask for any such material to be removed from the room or placed out of reach.
What guidance will be given to deaneries with regards to extensions to training required as a result of postponing some candidates FRCPath part 2 exam to Jan?
Candidates were offered the choice of sitting in October or January and all candidates received their first choice. As per previous guidance, all candidates were encouraged to choose their examination sitting after consultation with their Educational Supervisor.
What is the contingency of holding exams if a 2nd wave of COVID-19 prompts (a) nationwide and / or (b) local lockdown(s)?
The majority of exams are being held online and so will not be affected. We are doing what we can to avoid lockdown complications for those exams being held in person, such as minimising candidate and examiner travel where possible, and having extra examiners on standby. Arrangements for these exams will be held under ongoing review.
What is the procedure in the event of internet disruption; if they manage to get logged back in again do they lose all their previous answers?
If your internet drops out, you will be guided by on-screen instructions to reconnect to the exam. Your answers will be safe if this happens, as all data is automatically saved by the system at regular intervals and any time you move to a new question.
What options are available for candidates with severe dyslexia and slow typing speed? Is there an option to use a voice recorder?
Reasonable adjustments will be granted in line with the recommendations made in your supporting evidence.
When do you anticipate letting candidates know the location of their face to face examination as booking transport and accommodation may be difficult
We aim to give candidates 6-8 weeks' notice of examination centres.
When will Immunology FRCPath part 2 dates be confirmed? Candidates will need to book study leave- will dates be announced with less than 6 weeks’ notice?
As soon as we have confirmation from the examiners of the dates, they will be published on our website. Update: these are now available on the News and Dates page.
Candidates will be informed of this information soon.
The examinations are mapped to the current curricula for each specialty so candidates should familiarise themselves with the content of these ahead of the examination. It should be noted that some specialty curricula do reference related content (e.g. novel coronavirus).
This feature will be available for all essay papers. You will be able to create tables and use a drawing tool to create diagrams.
Will there be an extra sitting exclusively for candidates who were supposed to sit exams in the Spring? If not it disadvantages those in small specialties.
All candidates who were due to sit in Spring have been deferred to the Autumn sitting, regardless of when the usual timing of their examination is.
Will there be any changes in the format FRCPath Part 1 haematology, in particular the essays? Will it still be the long essays, or short format questions?
There will be no changes to the format of any of the examinations, only the delivery method has changed.
Will those sitting electronic exams receive a partial refund as the College are no longer paying for room bookings or invigilation?
There are still significant costs associated with running online examinations such as software, licencing and invigilation costs so the fees will remain the same.
Will trainees be able to look forward and go back to questions for SAQS to add bits later on and correct if necessary or is it a 'one way' through the exam?
The online examinations will replicate the scenario of a paper based examination so for the majority of question types you will be able to go back and forth between questions, but in some - such as OSPEs where questions are timed - you will not be able to.
Will we be able to use electronic drawing implements (i.e. e-drawing pad) for the FRCPath part 1 exams or will there be an appropriate tool to draw diagrams?
This feature will be available for all essay papers. You will be able to create tables and use a drawing tool to create diagrams within your essays.
Will we be able to withdraw with a full refund if the software does not suit how we have revised answering questions once we have had chance to trial this?
There will be no changes to the format or content of the questions and past/sample papers are available on the website under each specialty for you to familiarise yourselves with them.
Yes, candidates are permitted to use a non-programmable scientific calculator. There is also a simple calculator available in the TestReach system.
With online invigilators via webcam/mic, if doing the exam at work in a room with other candidates does each pc need a webcam/mic or is one in the room ok?
Each device requires its own webcam and microphone so that the invigilator can observe the individual candidate. Candidates are not permitted to sit the exam in a room with other candidates.
Applying for an examination
Part 2 Written Options
Preparing for the examination
Additional Information for Overseas Candidates