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Part 1 FRCOphth Candidate tips

What is the Part 1 FRCOphth?

  • Written examination
  • 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?

  • Three sittings per year – usually January/May/October(Examinations Calendar)
  • London, Sheffield, Glasgow, Cairo (Egypt), Chennai (India), Dubai (UAE), Dublin (Ireland), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)


Two papers:

  • 3 hour, 120 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ). Single best answer out of four.
  • 2 hour, 12 question Constructed Response Questions (CRQ)

What to expect on the day

Arrive at least 15 minutes before with photographic ID.  Registration will begin 10-15 minutes in advance of the scheduled examination start time. You will be allocated a desk with pencil, rubber, sharpener to use on the answer sheet for the MCQ.  There is an hour between each paper for lunch.  Lunch is not provided by the College.

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, clinical experience is very helpful for the CRQ.
  • 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.
  • Try to find some previous CRQ past answer sheets that are issued back to candidates after the exam, as they give a great insight into how the questions are structured.
  • 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 https://www.rcophth.ac.uk/examinations/examination-reports/)

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.