Brief Outline of Examinations
Detailed information on the College's examinations is available in the Application Packs.
All candidates should note that from August 2013, candidates will be permitted a maximum of six attempts in which to pass each examination. Examination attempts prior to August 2013 will not be included when the new ruling is introduced. Candidates who are elgible to sit either the Part 2 FRCOphth examination or the Fellowship Assessment are permitted six attempts in total (not twelve) in which to pass an exit level exam.
Part 1 Fellowship
No previous experience in ophthalmology is necessary for candidates to sit the Part 1 FRCOphth but candidates will be required to pass this examination before they enter into the third year of ophthalmic specialist training.
The structure is based on the learning outcomes from the curriculum for the first two years of training. This includes basic sciences but also theoretical optics and some pathology. There is no clinical component and the syllabus is assessed by a theoretical written section.
No previous experience in ophthalmology is necessary for candidates to sit the Refraction Certificate but candidates are unlikely to pass this assessment if they have not undertaken a large number of clinical refractions in the clinical settings of either the hospital workplace or in optometric establishments. Candidates in OST are required to pass this examination before they enter into the fourth year of ophthalmic specialist training.
The assessment consists of a 12 station Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Six of these stations are retinoscopy stations during which candidates will examine three patients, performing retinoscopy on each eye. The time allowed will be 10 minutes for each double retinoscopy station during which time both eyes must be assessed. Candidates are permitted to divide the 10 minute period between the eyes as they wish. After 10 minutes there will be a 1 minute change over period. A 5 minute OSCE will then follow. Each station will be timed precisely. Please see the Refraction Certificate Candidates' Information Pack, available on the Examination Application Packs Page, for full details.
Exemption - Candidates who have been registered with the General Optical Council as an optometrist in the last five years are exempt from this certificate. Candidates intending to apply for exemption should therefore ensure that they do so within this period. Candidates in ophthalmic specialist training are advised to apply for exemption before the end of year 3.
Part 2 Fellowship
This examination is open to candidates who have passed the Part 1 FRCOphth and the Refraction Certificate. The examination is held twice yearly in February/April and September/November. Candidates are required to pass this examination by the end of year seven of ophthalmic specialist training.
The structure is based on learning outcomes from the curriculum in its entirety. The syllabus is assessed in two components: a theoretical written section and a practical examination. Only candidates who successfully complete the written component will automatically proceed to the practical component approximately 8-10 weeks after the written component. Candidates are not permitted to defer sitting the practical component for any reason; a pass in the written components cannot be carried forward to another sitting. The two parts are designed, written and blueprinted as a whole and candidates must ensure they are available for both dates when applying to sit the examination. Candidates who do not sit the practical component, or are unsuccessful, must resit the written component.
Success in the Part 2 FRCOphth examination leads to the award of Fellowship and the post-nominals FRCOphth. International Medical Graduates (IMG) should note that the award of FRCOphth does not permit exemption from the PLAB test.
Diploma in Ophthalmology Examination
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists administers an examination leading to the award of the Diploma in Ophthalmology (DRCOphth). The examination is currently held once a year in September.
This diploma assesses core skills and competencies of ophthalmologists who have not completed the Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) programme.
From 2010, the College is pleased to offer a new classification of Membership of the College for examination candidates who have successfully completed the Refraction Certificate and Diploma examinations, which has previously been referred to as the Diploma Plus.
The MRCOphth is a postgraduate ophthalmic qualification for doctors which assesses core ophthalmic knowledge and skills. Further details are available here.
Please note: the College previously ran a three-part Membership examination, assessing the entire curriculum for Basic Specialist Training. This concluded in 2008.
This assessment was designed as an exit requirement for trainees completing Higher Specialist Training. The assessment takes the form of a presentation of an agreed number of cases which have been studied during HST and which include cases reflecting the trainee's special interest or research subjects.
The eligibility criteria for the Fellowship Assessment are such that only a limited number of trainees are now eligible to sit this assessment. Candidates intending to sit the Fellowship Assessment are advised to contact George Hibdige to confirm their eligibility to enter this assessment.
Certificate in Laser Refractive Surgery
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists offers an assessment in laser refractive surgery which leads to a certificate of competence to practice, subject to satisfactory yearly appraisals and continuing professional development. Success in this certificate confers the post-nominals CertLRS.
This certificate applies only to refractive procedures performed by laser.
Full details of the structure of the assessment are available here.
Duke Elder Undergraduate Prize Examination
The Duke Elder Undergraduate Prize Examination takes place once a year in Medical Schools throughout the country. The next examination is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 13 March 2013 (Closing date - 16 January 2013 - by which candidates have to submit their names to their Medical School). Medical Schools receive application materials by November 2012 and further information can be obtained from the organiser within your Medical School after this time.
The next Admissions Ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday 6 September 2013 at The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Further details will be posted to those eligible to attend in July 2013.