Part 2 Oral FRCOphth Exam

The Part 2 Fellowship Oral Exam is a practical examination that tests candidates' knowledge and understanding of ophthalmology. Most candidates will sit this exam towards the end of the OST programme and it is the final examination before becoming a Fellow.

New Hybrid Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Exams from November 2022

The FRCOphth Part 2 Oral examination will adopt a new hybrid format beginning from November 2022.

After two years of running specially adapted examinations without real patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examination will now adopt a new hybrid format from November 2022.

This new hybrid format will see the re-introduction of some patients into the exam, where each of the five OSCE stations will now utilise a combination of real patients alongside the videos that have been used since 2020.

The temporary work-place based examination entry requirement to confirm candidate clinical examination skills that was introduced in 2020 has now been dropped for all exams from 1st November 2022.

The updated information pack for the new Part 2 FRCOphth Oral hybrid exam can be found here:

The Part 2 FRCOphth is a synoptic exit examination that uses several different and complementary assessment methods.  Success in this examination allows a doctor to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. It is a necessary but insufficient requirement for completion of specialty training in the UK.  The examination is 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 this examination 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 will be permitted a maximum of four attempts in which to pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component.  Examination attempts prior to August 2014 will not be included when the new ruling is introduced

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 7 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.

Transforming exams through the use of flexible offsite locations

In 2019 the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral exam was moved out of the clinical setting for the first time to avoid disruption to busy NHS ophthalmology services. Delivering the exams offsite has involved the purchase of brand new ophthalmological equipment, the creation of clinical booths inside a hotel ballroom, the transportation of 300 patients, and working closely with several nursing staff provided by local eye units.

The Part 2 FRCOphth Oral exam is a practical synoptic assessment based on the detailed learning outcomes of the Ophthalmic Specialist Training Programme (OST). Success in this exam allows a doctor to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and contributes to the completion of specialty training.

Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge and understanding expected of an independent specialist (consultant) not sub-specialising in the field being tested.

Book an Exam

Who can sit the exam?

Only candidates who have passed the Part 1, Refraction Certificate and Part 2 Written exams will be eligible to enter. Candidates must hold a medical qualification approved by the UK GMC or the Ireland Medical Council (IMC). If you have a medical qualification from overseas you should have had this attested before applying for the Part 1 FRCOphth Exam.

Candidates require no specific training however the exam is aimed at trainees in years 4-7 of an OST programme. You are unlikely to pass the exam without significant training in ophthalmology.

If you’re on an approved OST programme you must pass this exam and the written exam by the end of year seven of ophthalmic specialist training. You are permitted a maximum of four attempts.

How do I book the exam?

There are a limited number of spaces available for each Part 2 Oral FRCOphth exam sitting so you should book as soon as possible. You should have an online log in which you have used to book your previous FRCOphth exams, go to Book an Exam to secure your place using this. Please note examinations are only eligible for booking during limited time periods, if you cannot find your exam on the book an exam page it means it is not open for booking yet. A full calendar of all exams and their open and close dates is available here.

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?

This exam takes place in a mock clinical environment and is held in the UK as well as overseas in Singapore, India, Egypt and Trinidad & Tobago. In 2019 we moved our Part 2 Oral examinations in the UK out of the hospital setting for the first time, to avoid disruption to busy eye clinics. Now our UK Part 2 FRCOphth oral exams take place in external venues such as hotels where we transform the space into a mock clinical environment. The location of each exam is detailed on the Book an Exam page.

Overseas Sittings in Singapore, India, Egypt and Trinidad & Tobago

The Examinations Committee is pleased to be able to offer the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examination in Singapore, India, Egypt and Trinidad & Tobago from 2022 onwards.  The examinations will be delivered to the same standard as in the UK. ‘Same standard’ means an expectation of the same performance of examiners and level of candidate ability in order to pass candidates of similar standards in either the UK or Singapore, India, Egypt and Trinidad & Tobago.  

For pass mark setting of these overseas exams, Hofstee is the preferred method for smaller cohort examinations such as this. 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.

What is the structure of the exam?

The Part 2 Fellowship exam is set up as a Structured Viva and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination.

Structured viva

The Structured Viva will consist of a series of five stations, each of which will be timed for precise periods of 10 minutes.  Station 6 of the OSCE, Communication Skills, will not be conducted in a clinical setting and will be held at the same time as the Structured Viva, lasting for a precise period of 10 minutes.

The stations are set out as follows:

Station 1:        Patient investigations and data interpretation

Station 2:        Patient management 1

Station 3:        Patient management 2

Station 4:        Attitudes, ethics and responsibilities

Station 5:        Audit, research and evidence based practice and Health promotion and disease prevention

One examiner will be present at each station for the duration of the cycle, apart from the Communication Skills station, where there will be two examiners present (one consultant ophthalmologist and one lay examiner).

Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

The OSCE will consist of a series of five assessment stations, combining real patients and videos, each of which will be timed precisely.  Station 6, Communication Skills, will not be conducted in a clinical setting and will be held at the same time as the Structured Viva, lasting for a precise period of 10 minutes.

The stations are set out as follows:

Station 1:        Anterior Segment (1 patient and 2 videos)

Station 2:        Glaucoma and Lid (1 patient and 2 videos)

Station 3:        Posterior Segment (1 patient and 2 videos)

Station 4:        Strabismus and Orbit (1 patient and 2 videos)

Station 5:        Neuro-ophthalmology (3 patients)

Station 6:        Communication Skills (1 simulated patient – takes place logistically with viva aspect of the exam)

Two examiners will be present at each station for the duration of the cycle. In station 6, an ophthalmologist is paired with a trained lay examiner. Other than the communications skills station, the examination will take the form of short cases.

How is the exam marked?

All examinations are pass mark set.  The OSCE and structured vivas are pass mark set using the borderline candidate method.  Hofstee is the preferred method for smaller cohorts, for example, overseas examinations such as in Singapore. 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 Oral Result

To pass the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component, candidates are required to pass both components (Structured Viva and OSCE) although some degree of cross compensation will be allowed (see below). If awarded a fail, candidates must re-sit the entire oral examination, even if a pass was previously achieved in any section.

Cross Compensation

If a candidate marginally fails the Structured Viva, their total marks for both the Viva and the OSCE will be added together.  If this mark exceeds the combined pass marks for both papers, they will be allowed to pass the examination.  It is NOT possible to compensate a poor OSCE with a good Structured Viva result.

Red Flags

Candidates whose performance in any viva or OSCE station has given the examiners cause for concern eg. indicated unsafe practice, will alert the Senior Examiner by way of a ‘red flag’ on the marksheet.  The cause for concern must be documented clearly on the marksheet.  Candidates receiving a red flag should reflect that their practice has been deemed particularly poor by the examiner/s and should discuss this with their Educational Supervisor.

When will I find out my results?

The results of the Part 2 FRCOphth Oral Component will be released four – five weeks after the final day of examinations once verified by the Senior Examiner.  Final results will be sent to candidates by email and the pass list will be displayed on the College website. We regret that examination results are not available by telephone or post.

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

Notes and Frequently Asked Questions

Candidates are recommended to read the Candidate Notes Part 2 FRCOphth Oral (updated May 2022)

Commonly asked questions about the Part 2 FRCOphth oral exam can be found here

A powerpoint presentation on how to pass the exam can also be found here

Candidate Tips

The Examinations Committee agreed to review information and resources provided to candidates in February 2016. The contents of this document have been produced by Mukhtar Bizrah and Megan Johnson, former members of the College’s Ophthalmologists in Training Group (OTG), with contributions from Edward Casswell and Sheila Luk.

If you have any suggestions for additional examination resources or advice, please send an email to [email protected].

Note: This page has been published to offer advice to candidates, from candidates. Provision of the guidance and resources does not constitute RCOphth endorsement. The RCOphth accepts no responsibility for the content in the resource listed above.

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 Oral 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.

The Dr Sadhu Ram Gupta MBE Award for International (non-UK) Examination Candidates

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new annual award for international candidates that take our FRCOphth examinations.

For further information: 2021 Winner of the Dr Sadhu Ram Gupta MBE Award for International (non-UK) Examination Candidates | The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (rcophth.ac.uk)

In January 2023, the winner will be the highest-ranking candidate from all overseas sittings of Part 2 FRCOphth Oral examinations in 2022, taking place in Singapore, India, Egypt and Trinidad & Tobago.

For any questions regarding the award, please contact Dylan Costello, Head of Examinations at [email protected]

Examination Pass Lists

RCOphth Pass Lists are published online after all marks for an exam have been verified by the senior examiner. Click on the exam you sat to view the pseudonymised results based on candidate numbers.

Exam Reports

As per the General Medical Council’s (GMC) Standards for Curricula and Assessment Systems, abridged reports are provided for the Part 2 Oral 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].