RCOphth Exams

Our examinations rigorously assess ophthalmologists’ ability to provide high quality and safe patient care and offer accreditation to further career ambitions. We welcome applications to sit examinations from ophthalmologists and those training in ophthalmology around the world. Discover the full range of examinations we offer.

Our RCOphth examinations assess the quality, safety and efficiency of the patient care provided by ophthalmologists. We offer a range of examinations for ophthalmologists in training, medical students and consultants. Each examination is question set and marked by trained highly experienced ophthalmologists who ensure high standards of qualifying candidates.

Our examinations include the Fellowship set of exams. Success in these exams lead to the prestigious award of Fellow of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (FRCOphth). Please note that in order to use the FRCOphth post-nominal, successful candidates will need to become a member of the College.

We also offer a Certificate in Laser and Refractive Surgery (CertLRS), for those performing independent practice in refractive surgery, and the Duke Elder Undergraduate Prize Examination for medical students.

FRCOphth Exams

The FRCOphth by examination route consist of four examinations, assessing both practical and theoretical knowledge of ophthalmology practice. Ophthalmologists in training on a GMC-approved Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) programme must sit and succeed in these examinations at stages throughout the training programme in order to progress and achieve Certification of Completion of Training to apply for a consultant post.

The Route to Qualification

These are all the FRCOphth exams you will need to sit to become a Fellow of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Once you are a Fellow, you will need to also become a member of the College in order to be able to use your new FRCOphth post-nominal.

Part 1 Fellowship Exam

The first fellowship exam, the Part 1 FRCOphth Written exam, is a theoretical paper based on the learning outcomes of the OST curriculum that are covered in the first two years of training. Trainees must pass this exam by the end of the second year of run-through training under the OST.

Refraction Certificate

This practical exam assesses candidates’ abilities to perform clinical refractions in a clinical setting. Trainees in OST are required to pass this examination before they enter the fourth year of ophthalmic specialist training.

Part 2 Fellowship Written Exam

Open to candidates who have passed the Part 1 FRCOphth. The FRCOphth Part 2 Written exam, is a multiple choice, single best answer question paper. Trainees must pass this exam by the end of year seven of the Ophthalmic Specialist Training programme. Please note that candidates not need to have passed the Refratcion Certificate examination in order to sit the Part 2 Written. Only a pass in the Part 1 FRCOphth is the criteria for sitting the Part 2 Written.

Part 2 Fellowship Oral Exam

The Part 2 FRCOphth Oral exam component is open to candidates who have passed the Part 2 Written Exam. Similarly to the written component, all trainees will need to pass this exam by the end of year seven of their Ophthalmic Specialist Training programme to be awarded the CCT.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The College currently awards a Fellowship in Ophthalmology by examination (FRCOphth).

The current Fellowship examination structure was introduced in 2006. In order to obtain FRCOphth, candidates must pass the Part 1 FRCOphth, Refraction Certificate, the Part 2 FRCOphth Written and the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examinations.

The Diploma in Ophthalmology (DRCOphth) examination ceased in 2015.

MRCOphth was awarded to candidates who have passed both the Diploma (DRCOphth) and Refraction Certificate examinations.

The Diploma in Ophthalmology (DRCOphth) was awarded to candidates who have passed the Diploma examination.

Eligibility to sit the College’s examinations is not restricted to UK trainees. There is no minimum ophthalmic training requirement to sit the College exams. However, candidates are unlikely to pass the Refraction Certificate without extensive practise and experience of refracting patients.

It is also recommended that candidates have completed a minimum of 4 years of ophthalmology training before sitting the Part 2 FRCOphth Written and Oral examinations. Success in these exams will NOT allow you automatically to apply for places in UK ophthalmic specialist training posts.

The Part 1 FRCOphth examination assesses understanding of patient investigations and knowledge of basic and clinical sciences relevant to ophthalmology. This is examined by a 2 x 2 hour Multiple Choice Question papers (MCQ) (1 best correct answer from 4) of 90 questions each paper (total 180 questions)

The Refraction Certificate consists of a 10 station Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

The Part 2 FRCOphth Written examination consists of one assessment format:
Written Paper of 180, single best answer, multiple choice questions (taken electronically)

The Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examination consists of two assessment formats:
Structured Viva and
Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE)

The Part 2 FRCOphth Written and Oral examinations are synoptic examinations that cover all areas of RCOphth Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST) Curriculum. Those areas of the curriculum where workplace based assessment has been used as continuous assessment throughout training are less likely to feature in the written parts of the examination but may be assessed in the structured viva and objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE).

Order of taking exams:

Candidates must first take and pass the Part 1 FRCOphth exmaination. Then they can proceed to either the Refraction Certificate or Part 2 FRCOphth Written examinations and these two examinations can be taken in any order. But candidates must have passed the Part 1, Refraction Certificate and Part 2 Written before they are permitted to sit the final Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examination.

Part 1 FRCOphth

No previous experience in ophthalmology will be necessary for candidates to sit the Part 1 FRCOphth but trainees will be required to pass this examination before they enter into the third year of ophthalmic specialist training.

Refraction Certificate
Candidates must pass the Part 1 FRCOphth examination before being permitted to sit the Refraction Certificate. Candidates are unlikely to pass this assessment if they have not undertaken a large number of clinical refractions in the clinical settings of either the hospital workplace or in optometric establishments. Trainees in OST will be required to pass this examination before they enter into the fourth year of ophthalmic specialist training.

Part 2 FRCOphth Written Component
This examination is open to candidates who have passed the Part 1 FRCOphth and is an exit level assessment. There is no specific training requirement but candidates are unlikely to successfully complete this examination without a significant period of training in ophthalmology.  It is therefore taken towards the end of training and trainees are required to pass this examination by the end of year seven of ophthalmic specialist training. If these deadlines are not met then it will not be possible to progress with training and the individual will, almost certainly, leave the training programme.

Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component
This examination is open to candidates who have passed the Part 1 FRCOphth, the Refraction Certificate and the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Examination after August 2014 and is an exit level assessment. There is no specific training requirement but candidates are unlikely to successfully complete this examination without a significant period of training in ophthalmology.

For candidates in OST, success in this examination reflects an ophthalmologist who is suitable for recommendation for a CCT when taken with other evidence, such as completion of training (RITA G/ARCP 6). It is therefore taken towards the end of training and trainees are required to pass this examination by the end of year seven of ophthalmic specialist training. If these deadlines are not met then it will not be possible to progress with training and the individual will, almost certainly, leave the training programme.

The Part 2 FRCOphth must be passed before the General Medical Council will award a CCT. In order to be considered for a CCT, the exam must be passed while still in a training post and candidates should not leave training or give up a training number before passing the exam. If the exam is passed when not in a recognised training post, the candidate must apply for a Certificate of Equivalence for the Specialist Register (CESR), under Article 14.

If a trainee does not pass an examination within the required time frame, it will be a matter for the local Deanery and ARCP panel to determine whether it is appropriate to offer the trainee additional training time, and a further re-sit, before progression through specialty training can proceed. In some cases, this may unfortunately mean the trainee being counselled out of the specialty.

From 1 August 2013, candidates are permitted a maximum of six attempts to pass the Part 1 FRCOphth examination and a maximum of six attempts to pass the Refraction Certificate examination.  Examination attempts prior to August 2013 are discounted.

From August 2014, candidates are permitted a maximum of four attempts to pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Examination and four attempts to pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Examination.

From August 2014, candidates are permitted four attempts each for the Part 2 FRCOphth Written and Oral components.

An examination can be taken before the candidate enters the relevant GMC approved training programme or when they are on a break in the programme. The pass will be considered current as long as the candidate enters or re-enters the programme within seven years of passing the examination and satisfies any other currency requirements. A pass in an examination taken after completing a run-through or higher training programme will not be acceptable for a certificate of completion of training. In that situation, doctors may be able to demonstrate equivalence via the CESR or CEGPR process.

With regard to being on an OOPE, a training post is considered to be a post that has been approved by the GMC for training. In order for this post to be valid for YOUR training then you must have approval from the College and Deanery to undertake this as part of your training. Some OOPEs may not fulfil these criteria eg post CCT Fellowships, research OOPEs, educational OOPEs – and it is important that you ensure that you have confirmed that when you apply for a post that you confirm that it is a valid training post recognised for YOUR training. This also applies to those who are in a LAT post. Applications for training approval must be prospective.

No, the assessment system for those in OST is mapped to the curriculum and this consists of both WpBAs and examinations which complement each other.

The Part 1 FRCOphth can be taken at any time following graduation of medical school but sitting this examination at such an early stage is inadvisable. You will have a large number of generic competencies to get through in your Foundation Years and you are advised to concentrate on these skills and wait until you are in OST until you attempt any College exams.

Applications for first submission of casebooks for the Fellowship Assessment have now closed. The Fellowship Assessment will be withdrawn by the end of October 2015, irrespective of the status of any remaining trainees.

No. However, candidates are reminded that the Part 2 FRCOphth is an exit level assessment and candidates are unlikely to successfully complete this examination without a significant period of training in ophthalmology.

Doctors who do not hold a substantive training post, but have successfully passed the Part 1 FRCOphth and Refraction Certificate remain eligible to sit the Part 2 FRCOphth as a route to obtaining Fellowship of the College.

In order to sit the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Examination you must have passed Part 1 FRCOphth and the Refraction Certificate. If you fulfil these criteria then you are allowed to sit the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Examination from a specialty doctor post.

Candidates must pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Written Examination after August 2014 in order to be eligible to sit the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Examination.  Success in Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examination confers the award of Fellowship (FRCOphth).  This will provide valuable evidence of competency against the OST curriculum which will count towards your CESR application.

The Part 1 FRCOphth contains theoretical optics questions; there is no assessment of clinical skills. You will have to pass the Refraction Certificate, in addition to Part 1 FRCOphth, in order to progress to Part 2 FRCOphth.

The last Part 1 MRCOphth was sat in October 2006, the last Part 2 MRCOphth was held in November 2008 and the last Part 3 MRCOphth was held in September 2008.

The new Part 1 FRCOphth commenced in October 2006. The Refraction Certificate commenced in July 2007 and the first Part 2 FRCOphth was held in October 2008.

As of 31 August 2017, Part 2 MRCOphth no longer grants eligibility for the Part 2 FRCOphth Written examination.

The Part 2 FRCOphth is an exit level qualification for Ophthalmic Specialist Training and as such assesses knowledge and competencies at a high level. It is recommended that candidates have completed a minimum of 4 years training in ophthalmology before sitting this examination (whereas candidates for the Part 3 MRCOphth needed to have completed 18 months).

These are therefore not equivalent examinations of ophthalmic knowledge. However, the assessment of clinical skills in the both OSCEs assesses the ability of candidates to reliably elicit clinical signs at a competent level.

MRCOphth is no longer an acceptable qualification for entry to OST3 (as of 2016).  If you wish to apply for specialty training at ST3 level you will need to pass the Part 1 FRCOphth.

The College does not offer exemptions to candidates who hold ICO examinations.

The College does not offer exemptions to candidates who hold FRCS (Glasgow). In order to obtain FRCOphth, you must pass all the College’s Fellowship examinations (Part 1 FRCOphth, the Refraction Certificate and the Part 2 FRCOphth).

Candidates possessing any qualification from the RCSEd are no longer eligible for the Part 2 FRCOphth.   Any candidates holding RCSEd qualifications will need to pass the Part 1 FRCOphth an Refraction Certificate in order to progress to the Part 2 FRCOphth.

You must bring Government-issued photographic identification for verification to all College examinations. For the online proctored delivery of the written exams you will be required to show your ID via your webcam to the live proctor.

Candidates may bring their own clinical equipment to an examination, if desired, however all items must be contained within a clear plastic pencil case or plastic bag.

All written examinations are taken on a computer via online proctored delivery. Pens/pencils and scrap paper booklets will not be allowed.

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