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Part 1 Fellowship

Application Procedure

Please check our Examinations Calendar for dates of all upcoming examinations:

For Examination Registration, visit and sign in, then visit the Exam Search page. This is ONLY for candidates who have sat the exam previously. First time applicants must email [email protected] for a manual application form.

Please note that we do not confirm receipt of individual exam applications and candidates will have their applications confirmed soon after the closing date.

Please also note that exams close for registration at 5pm UK time on the closing date and applications received after this time will not be accepted. Candidates are strongly encouraged not to leave an exam application until the closing date itself.

Additional Requirements Requests

Please note that any additional requirement requests must be made to [email protected] along with supporting evidence. If you are resitting an exam and have already provided evidence of an additional request for a previosu exam sitting, you still MUST email [email protected] to request your additional time for every exam sitting (although you only have to provide the evidence required for the first sitting)

PLEASE NOTE: Additional requirements are usually in the form of extra time requests due to a SpLD such as dyslexia. These requirements can only be considered for written exams only and must be requested BEFORE the exam closing date with evidence provided in the form of an educational psychologist’s report to be e-mailed to [email protected]

Examination Introduction

The examination comprises of theoretical papers based on learning outcomes of the OST curriculum appropriate to the first two years of training as follows:

  • 2 x 2 hour Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) papers of 90 questions each (total 180 questions) consisting of one best answer out of four options

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 second year of run-through training.

Written Examination Procedures

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.

Candidates are recommended to thoroughly read and familiarise themselves with the RCOphth Online Proctored Written Exams – Rules and Regulations and Important Information for online proctored RCOphth Written Examinations

Candidates are also advised to read RCOphth Online Proctored Written Exams FAQs

Please see below an online demo video of how the Online Proctored Examination works and the set-up that is required. It is recommended that candidates also read the Remote Invigilation Candidate User Guide

You can also watch this video on how to take your online examination:

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.

72 – 24 hours before the examination, candidates will be sent another email with the links for launching the exam. These links will not activate until the start of the actual examination. The keycodes to start the exam when then be displayed to the candidate when they are just about to start the exam.

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

Full details can be found in the Information Pack below.

Pass Mark Setting

The MCQ paper is pass mark set in advance using the Ebel method.  All questions are reviewed in the light of performance and modified accordingly. All examinations are pass mark set. The pass mark setting methods quoted are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the College.

Overall Result

To pass the Part 1 FRCOphth, candidates are required to achieve the pass mark plus one standard error of measurement (SEM).


Results will be released approximately 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.

Please note that successful candidates do not receive a certificate for passing the Part 1 FRCOphth. The only certificate issued is for completion of the whole FRCOphth qualification (Fellowship certificate), not for individual components. 

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 Part 1 FRCOphth 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 Part 1 FRCOphth Information Pack:
2021 Part 1 FRCOphth Information Pack
RCOphth Online Proctored Written Exams – Rules and Regulations

RCOphth Online Proctored Written Exams FAQs

Important Information for online proctored RCOphth Written Examinations
Remote Invigilation Candidate User Guide
RCOphth OPE Privacy Policy
Policy on Allegations of Cheating and Misconduct 2018