Part 1 FRCOphth Exam

The Part 1 Fellowship exam is the first exam on the path towards achieving your Fellowship of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. This is a written exam which is sat electronically, delivered online to candidates in their own home.

The Part 1 FRCOphth Written Exam is a theoretical paper based on the learning outcomes of the OST Curriculum covered in the first two years of Ophthalmic Specialist Training (OST). The written exam will assess your understanding of patient investigations and knowledge of basic and clinical sciences relevant to ophthalmology.

Find out more about registering and eligibility in the Part 1 FRCOphth Information Pack

Please also see this link to Part 1 FRCOphth – Sample MCQs

Who can sit the exam?

No previous experience in ophthalmology is necessary for candidates to sit the Part 1 FRCOphth. Anyone who is medically qualified is eligible to sit the exam and no experience in ophthalmology is necessary to be a candidate. You can take the exam before entering the relevant GMC approved OST programme, when you are on a break during your training or if you a qualified doctor working outside of the OST programme.

Candidates will be required to pass this examination before they enter into the third year of ophthalmic specialist training. The structure is based on the learning outcomes from the curriculum for the first two years of training. This includes basic sciences but also theoretical optics and some pathology. There is no clinical component and the syllabus is assessed by a theoretical written section.

You can only sit the exam a maximum of six times. Any examination attempts before August 2013 do not count towards this.

How do I book the exam?

Booking the exam will depend on whether you are already an RCOphth member or previous exam applicant  – or whether you are a first-time exam applicant:

  • If you already have a candidate number with log-in details or have sat the exam previously, you must book your exam here. Please DO NOT use the online application form below as this form is for first-time applicants only.
  • If you have NOT sat any of our exams before and are sitting our Part 1 FRCOphth exam for the very first time you MUST use this online application form:

Online Part 1 Exam Application Form

IMPORTANT: Please do not use multiple email addresses to complete the application form as this will delay the approval process. If you have been asked for further documents, please email them to [email protected]

All candidates must hold a medical qualification approved by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom (GMC) or Ireland (IMC) before registering.

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.

Please note that candidate exam confirmations are sent within 10 working days of the closing date to the email address that the candidate registered with. If a candidate has failed to receive their exam confirmation email after this period, then they must contact the exams department immediately. Refunds will not be given if a candidate fails to let the College know in good time that they did not receive their confirmation email.

Full details can be found in the Information Pack below.

Overseas Candidates

If you have an overseas medical qualification and you are not registered with the GMC already, you must register for the exam via this Online Part 1 Exam Application Form.

You must do this the first time you want to book an exam. As part of the online application form, you must upload an attested copy of your certificate which will then be verified and approved by the exams team before you can finalise registration and payment for the exam.

DO NOT submit any attested documents via email, they must only be uploaded via the Online Part 1 Exam Application Form.

Please note that first time applicants must still submit their application BEFORE 5pm on the published closing date. They will then be sent a payment link and payment must be completed BEFORE 5pm the day after the published closing date.

Find out more about registering and eligibility in the Part 1 FRCOphth Information Pack

Candidates with GMC registration or those on an official OST programme

If you don’t currently have an online account you must follow the instructions to create an account. All applications to sit exams are assessed by the Exams department. Once your eligibility has been assessed you will be emailed to confirm if your place has been reserved to sit the exam.

How much is the exam fee?

We update our examination fees each year.

Click here to find the latest list of fees

Where do the exams take place?

The Part 1 FRCOphth examination is an Online Proctored Examination, where the candidate sits the exam at their home or their workplace, without the need to travel to a testing centre or examination venue. The examination is 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) 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.

Online Invigilation Tutorial for Candidates

It is recommended that candidates also read the Remote Invigilation Candidate User Guide

What is the structure of the exam?

You will be assessed against the OST curriculum learning outcomes for years 1 and 2 of training. The paper will consist of:

  • 2  MCQ papers of 90 questions each (2 hours for each paper).

How is the exam marked?

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.

To pass the Part 1 FRCOphth, candidates are required to achieve the pass mark set for that particular examination.

When will my results be available?

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.

Results will be released by the deadline in our published examinations calendar, and we only publish them early if they are ready and at our own discretion. Please do not contact the Examinations Department asking for when results will be released.

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. 

Appeals information can be found on our Policies and Procedures page.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Candidates must take and pass the Part 1 FRCOphth examination before being permitted to move on to the Part 2 Written examination.

Commonly asked questions about the Part 1 FRCOphth exam can be found here

Exam Reports

As per the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Standards for Curricula and Assessment Systems, abridged reports are provided for the Part 1 FRCOphth examinations from 2009 as “the methods used to set standards for classification of trainees’ performance/competence must be transparent and in the public domain” [Standard 12, Standards for Curricula and Assessment Systems, July 2008].