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Part 1 FRCOphth Candidate tips

What is the Part 1 FRCOphth?

  • Written examination (taken electronically)
  • No previous experience in ophthalmology required
  • Must pass before entering OST year 3
  • Maximum 6 attempts
  • Based on learning outcomes from the curriculum for the first 2 years of OST including basic sciences, theoretical optics and pathology

When and where can I sit the exam?

From October 2020, the Part 1 FRCOphth examination will be taken as an Online Proctored Examination, where the candidate will sit the exam at their home or their workplace, without the need to travel to a testing centre or examination venue. The examination will be taken online by being delivered over the internet to the candidate’s computer at a pre-agreed examination date and time.

Both Paper 1 (MCQ) and Paper 2 (MCQ) will take place on the same day with a one-hour lunch break in-between.

Please click here for an online demo video of how the Online Proctored Examination works and the set-up that is required.

Candidate Application Process Steps:

Candidates will apply for the Part 1 FRCOphth examination via the RCOphth website.

Once the closing date for entries has passed, the candidate will receive a confirmation email from the College which will contain the following information:

  • Confirmation of their exam place
  • Their candidate ID number
  • Their exam date and time slot based on their location in the world
  • ID requirements and computer requirements in order to take the exam
  • A link to practice questions on the RCOphth exams website
  • Notes on what candidates can expect on the examination day
  • The examination rules and regulations

One week prior to the examination, another email will be sent to candidates with a link to complete a computer system check, as well as re-iterate the information from the previous confirmation email. The system check link will ensure a candidate’s audio and video work sufficiently, as well as making sure that their computer is suitable to run the software.

Up to 24 hours before the examination, candidates will be sent exam login details, this will include a keycode, which will be ready to use when the candidate logs in for the exam.

The exam will be available to the candidate, for as long as the available time specified.


Two papers:

  • Paper 1 – 2 hour, 90 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). Single best answer out of four.
  • Paper 2-  2 hour, 90 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). Single best answer out of four.

What to expect on the day

Log in for your online exam at the designated start time with photographic ID.  Registration, ID and system check will be completed before the exam starts. There is an hour break between each paper.

Resources Available

In February 2016, the Examinations Committee agreed to release sample MCQ questions from both the Part 1 and Part 2 FRCOphth question banks:

Part 1 FRCOphth – Sample MCQs
Questions selected from across the examination blueprint.


  • Basic Sciences in Ophthalmology. Ferris J.John Wiley & Sons 1998.
  • Clinical Anatomy of the Eye. Snell RS, Lemp MA. Blackwell Scientific Publications 1998.
  • The Eye: Basic Sciences and Practice. Forrester JV, Dick AD, McMenamin P, Lee WR. WB Saunders 2003.
  • Clinical optics. Elkington AR, Frank HJ and Greaney MJ. Blackwell Science.

Practice Questions

  • FRCOphth Part 1: 400 SBAs and CRQs. Hall N, Peden R. JP Medical Ltd 2016.
  • MCQs for FRCOphth and ICO Basic Sciences Examinations. Trikha S, de Silva S, Mehta H, Keightley S. CRC press 2012.
  • MCQ companion to the Eye. Basic Sciences in Practice. Galloway PH, Forrester JV, Dick AD, Lee WR. WB Saunders 2001.

Online Resources

Revision courses

Institute of Ophthalmology Revision Course – this is an annual 4-day course run by the Institute of Ophthalmology which aims to cover all the major topics in the exam.

Advice from previous candidates

  • Don’t sit the exam too early.
  • Give yourself at least 3-4 months of focused revision time.
  • Speak to fellow ophthalmologists who have sat the exam – they will be able to share their own experiences.
  • Review exam reports on the RCOphth website, as they give valuable information on the areas that candidates perform less well in.
  • Practising exam questions is essential to become familiar with the layout of the Part 1 exam.
  • Book study leave!

Pass mark,pass rate, reliability etc. statistics available in the RCOphth Examination Reports found at

This page has been published to offer advice to candidates from candidates. Provision of the above guidance and resources does not constitute RCOphth endorsement. The RCOphth accepts no responsibility for the content in any resources listed above.