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The exam format of both Part 1 and Part 2 MRCOG will be changing for the March 2015 exams. If you plan to sit the exam, we understand that you may have some concerns or questions. This page addresses some of the issues to help you with your exam planning.

What’s the structure of the new exam?

Part 1 MRCOG

In the past, the Part 1 MRCOG exam included both single best answer (SBA) and true/false multiple choice questions (MCQ). The new exam will have SBAs only – the MCQs will be removed.

The exam will be the same length and still consist of two papers. However, there will be 100 SBAs in each paper rather than the previous 60 SBAs and 30 five-part MCQs. Each paper will cover the same components as previous exams.

Part 2 MRCOG (written)

The written component of the Part 2 MRCOG exam will change from three papers to two papers. Short answer questions (SAQs), currently paper 1, are being removed. Extended matching questions (EMQs) will be expanded. The MCQ component will change into an SBA component.

The table below summarises the changes.

Current Part 2 exam (written) New Part 2 exam (written)
  • Paper 1: SAQs
  • Paper 2: 45 EMQs and 120 MCQs
  • Paper 3: 45 EMQs and 120 MCQs
  • Paper 1: 50 SBAs and 50 EMQs
  • Paper 2: 50 SBAs and 50 EMQs

There will be 3 hours available for each paper in the new arrangement.

Why are these changes being made?

Although the MRCOG is an effective assessment for those undergoing formal postgraduate training in O&G, the exam needs updating to modernise it and ensure the assessment is fair, robust and as reproducible as possible. The MRCOG not only serves to recognise specialists as fit to practise within the NHS, it also has a global reach and supports non-UK candidates. The changes will benefit both UK and non-UK candidates.

The exam won’t be easier or harder to pass as the standards will stay the same.

Will you be testing different subjects in the new exam?

There will be no changes to the curriculum when the new exam starts. The exam won’t test anything you’re not already learning in your day-to-day training.

The new exam won’t be any harder or easier – we’re carefully designing it to ensure that, subject to appropriate knowledge, your change of passing the new exam or the current exam will be the same.

While guidelines are often assessed in the current exam using SAQs, they can be assessed equally well using EMQs and will remain an important revision tool.

When will the new exam start?

The planned first run of the new exams is spring 2015. Until then, there will be no changes to the current exam.

Are there any plans to change the time at which people can sit the exam?

You can sit the Part 1 exam at any time during the first two years of specialty training. You won’t be able to enter intermediate training (ST3) until you’ve passed the Part 1 exam.

We don’t actively discourage people from sitting the exam during the foundation programme; however, potential candidates should be aware that passing the Part 1 MRCOG doesn’t necessarily improve your chances of selection into specialist training.

We’re removing the current two-year gap between passing the Part 1 MRCOG and attempting the Part 2 MRCOG. However, you will need to be at ST3 level or above to be eligible for the Part 2 MRCOG.

The level of knowledge assessed by the Part 2 MRCOG is at the exit of ST5 (the end of intermediate training), so we will still require you to pass the Part 2 MRCOG before moving into advanced training (ST6).

Will the limit to the number of attempts remain?

We will apply a limit of six attempts to each of the exams: the Part 1 MRCOG and Part 2 MRCOG. Further attempts to each part will be permitted only under exceptional circumstances.

This rule is unlikely to apply to the vast majority of candidates, as most people pass within four attempts.

Will there be any resources to help candidates study for the new exam format?

Further information on the single-best-answer question format, including a number of sample questions, can be found on the Part 2 MRCOG: SBAs page. In addition, our revision courses will have access to additional resources and StratOG will change its self-assessment methods in line with the exam. There will be no shortage of resources to help you prepare.

I’ve heard there will be a Part 3 MRCOG exam in the future – is this true?

The next phase of our modernisation of the MRCOG exam will be to separate the Part 2 written exam from the OSCE. This will mean that if you fail the OSCE, you won’t have to sit the Part 2 written exam again. The Part 2 written will become a standalone exam and the current OSCE will become the Part 3 MRCOG exam.

The Part 3 exam will change as it will no longer link to the Part 2 written exam. This means we can be much clearer about what you can expect to be examined on and what will be expected in the exam. The Part 3 will examine your clinical and communication skills in a variety of task-based settings. There will be a new syllabus which means we will assess key skills and areas of the curriculum in each exam.

These changes need careful piloting before we apply to the General Medical Council (GMC) for approval of the changes, so we don’t yet have a clear timetable for the introduction of the Part 3 exam. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s clear when and how the Part 3 will be introduced. The MRCOG exam will still need to be completed by the end of ST5.

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