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Part 2 Fellowship Written Component

*** 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. Please click RCOphth Statement on Online Proctored Exam Delivery for this important update. ***

The Part 2 FRCOphth Written and Oral examinations combined form a synoptic exit examination that use several different and complementary assessment methods.  Success in the Part 2 FRCOphth Written and Oral examinations allows a doctor to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. FRCOphth is a necessary but insufficient requirement for completion of specialty training in the UK.  The examinations are blueprinted against the General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice and the detailed learning outcomes of the curriculum for Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST), which has been approved by the GMC.

Candidates are expected to demonstrate a depth of knowledge and understanding expected of an independent specialist (consultant) not sub-specialising in the field being tested.  Candidates are required to pass both the Part 2 FRCOphth written and oral examinations by the end of year seven of ophthalmic specialist training.  Candidates in OST should note that a pass achieved after completion of the training programme will not be considered towards the award of a CCT.  From 1 August 2014, candidates are permitted a maximum of four attempts in which to pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Component and four attempts to pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component.  Examination attempts prior to August 2014 are not included.

The Written Component is held twice a year; in June and late November/December.  Candidates are required to pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Component, i.e. the MCQ paper, before they are eligible to apply to sit the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component.

The validity of a pass in the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Component will be limited to seven calendar years.  Candidates who have not successfully completed the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component within this time will be permitted to re-sit the written component on the proviso that they have not exhausted the permitted four attempts at the written component and retain at least one attempt at the oral component.

Candidates are advised to read the ‘Instructions for Candidates for the Part 2 FRCOphth Examination’ for further information on the Part 2 FRCOphth Examination.

Structure of the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Examination

A 180, single best answer from four, MCQ paper.  For logistical reason, the MCQ paper is sat in two halves of 90 MCQ over two hours each.  The total examination time is four hours.  A copy of the written examination blueprint is available in the ‘Instructions for Candidates for the Part 2 FRCOphth Examination’.

Written Examination Procedures::

From December 2020, the Part 2 FRCOphth Written 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 2 FRCOphth Written 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 Written Information Pack below.

Pass Mark Setting

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

Part 2 FRCOphth Written Result

To pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Component, candidates are required to achieve the pass mark plus one standard error of measurement (SEM).

Notification of Results

The results of the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Component will be dispatched by post two weeks after the day of examination.  Examiners and candidates are not permitted to telephone the College for examination results.

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 2 FRCOphth Written examination, the maximum number of attempts is 4.

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 2 FRCOphth Written Examination Information Packs below:

2020 Part 2 FRCOphth Written Information Pack
Part 2 FRCOphth Written – Notes for Candidates (Updated May 2020)
Part 2 FRCOphth eligibility update – January 2016
Policy on Allegations of Cheating and Misconduct 2018

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