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Part 1 Fellowship

*** UPDATE MAY 2020 – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of continued social distancing, all RCOphth written examinations will now be delivered by online proctored examinations. In order to facilitate this, the date of the October 2020 Part 1 FRCOphth written examination has been pushed back by three weeks to now take place on 26th October 2020. Please click RCOphth Statement on Online Proctored Exam Delivery for this important update. ***


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

  • A 3 hour Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) paper of 120 questions consisting of one best answer out of four options
  • A 2 hour Constructed Response Question (CRQ) Paper, consisting of 12 questions.

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 (CRQ) will take place on the same day with a one-hour lunch break in-between.

Candidates are recommended to thoroughly familiarise themselves with the RCOphth Online Proctored Written Exams – Rules and Regulations

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 Online Invigilation Candidate Quick Guide

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.

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.  The CRQ is pass mark set using the borderline candidate 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 examination, candidates are required to pass both components (MCQ and CRQ) although some degree of cross compensation is permitted as outlined below.  If awarded a fail, candidates must re-sit the entire examination, even if a pass was previously achieved in any component

Cross Compensation

If a candidate marginally fails one written paper (within one standard error of measurement of the pass mark), their total marks for both papers will be added together.  If this mark exceeds the combined pass marks for both papers, they will be allowed to pass the examination.


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.

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:
2020 Part 1 FRCOphth Information Pack
RCOphth Online Proctored Written Exams – Rules and Regulations
RCOphth OPE Privacy Policy
Policy on Allegations of Cheating and Misconduct 2018

To apply please click the purple box, on the right-hand side, above.