[Skip to Content]

Refraction Certificate

Please check our Examinations Calendar for dates of all upcoming examinations: https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/examinations/examinations-calendar/


Candidates must download the relevant application form below and email to [email protected]

January 2021 Birmingham Refraction Certificate Application Pack

(**Please note that due to COVID restrictions in place at the original venue in Glasgow, the January 2021 examination has now been moved to Birmingham)

Please put as your email subject heading: Refraction Certificate Exam Application – January 2021

Please note that NO postal applications are accepted and all forms and documentation must be sent via EMAIL ONLY.

The January 2021 examination closes for application on 23rd November 2020.

No applications will be accepted under any circumstances after the closing date.


Examination Introduction

The Refraction Certificate Examination is designed to assess the following practical skills from the curriculum for ophthalmic specialty training, which can be viewed in detail at: http://curriculum.rcophth.ac.uk/:

CA2 Assess vision
PM14 To use spectacle lenses and prisms when indicated
PS2 Perform a refractive assessment and provide an optical prescription
C1 Establish a good rapport with patients and relatives
C11 Keep clinical records
BCS6 Optics and Medical Physics

From 1 August 2013, candidates are permitted a maximum of six attempts in which to pass this examination.  Examination attempts prior to August 2013 do not count towards the number of attempts available.

Candidates sitting this examination before commencing OST should note that a pass in this examination will not count towards CCT if taken out of training unless the candidate enters or re-enters the training programme within 7 years of passing.

Candidates who have entered Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) must have passed this examination by the end of the third year of run-through training.

Structure of the Examination

The examination will consist of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Candidates will be examined on 10 OSCE stations in five rooms (see below).


The RCOphth wishes to inform candidates for the Refraction Certificate Examination of alterations to the format of the examination as a consequence of the continued uncertainties relating COVID 19 and social distancing in particular.

The examination will proceed without patients and the following description of the examination will apply:

  • The examination remains 10 OSCE stations with equal weighting and with unaltered examination timing.
  • The OSCE format for the examination will be:
  1. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR1)
  2. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR2)
  3. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR3)
  4. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR4)
  5. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR5)
  6. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR6)
  7. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR7)
  8. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR8)
  9. Simulated Retinoscopy (SR9)
  10. Focimetry / Lens Neutralisation (LN)

Please note that the simulated retinoscopies will all be performed upon retinoscopy training artificial eyes using hidden trial lenses and all will be marked in exactly the same objective manner (computer based algorithm) as currently. The Focimetry / Lens Neutralisation OSCE will remain unchanged and will be paired with one simulated retinoscopy.

We feel that the examination will remain valid and robust and there will be no qualifier for candidates who passed this examination during their training.

We would like to stress that it is important that in spite of these potential alterations, candidates should continue their examinations preparations as if real patients will be present.

Please refer to the 2020 Refraction Certificate Information Pack for full details.

Pass Mark Setting

All examinations are pass mark set.  The Refraction Certificate OSCE is pass mark set using the Hofstee method. The pass mark setting methods quoted are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the College.

Overall Result

Candidates are required to pass the OSCE.  If awarded a fail, candidates must re-sit the entire examination, even if a pass was previously achieved in any station.


Results will be released four weeks after the examination, once verified by the Senior Examiner.  Candidates are not permitted to telephone the College for examination results.  All results will be sent to candidates by email and the pass list will be displayed on the College website.

Additional Examination Attempts

GMC policy states: “No candidate will normally be allowed more than six attempts at an examination.”

“After six failed attempts, a candidate must provide evidence of additional educational experience to the royal college or faculty for each re-sit.”

The GMC have confirmed that the expectations around national professional examinations allow flexibility for colleges to make exceptions to the guidelines or to apply more stringent rules if they see fit, meaning they are permitted to implement their own limit to the number of additional exam attempts permitted.

The RCOphth will allow only ONE additional attempt after the limit on previous attempts has been reached.

NB: For the Refraction Certificate examination, the maximum number of attempts is 6.

For RCOphth examinations, candidates who have had the maximum number of attempts will not be eligible to attempt an examination again unless evidence of additional educational experience is provided. To be considered for a maximum of one additional attempt only, please read the following Additional Examination Attempt Information Pack and complete the Additional Examination Attempt Application Form only if you have exhausted your maximum number of exam attempts.

Further Information

For further information, please see the Refraction Certificate Information Packs below:
2020 Refraction Certificate Information Pack
Covid 2020 candidate instructions
Sample Marksheets – 2020 (please note these are the paper marksheets that are now replicated in the e-exam)

Policy on Allegations of Cheating and Misconduct 2018