The Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists examinations consist of three parts – two written papers, called Paper A and Paper B, and a Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies, or CASC, based on the OSCE format.
Paper A focusses on Psychology, Neuroscience, and Pharmacology – all with a more theoretical bias.
Paper B focusses on current clinical practice within subspecialities of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychotherapy, Critical Appraisal, and Statistics.
Applying for the MRCPsych
Candidates for the MRCPsych examinations must first fill out an online application form, completing the following sections:
- Personal details,
- Disability and special requirements – including dyslexia,
- Primary medical qualifications and registration details,
- Optional extra time centre requests, and
- Summary and declaration.
Paper A is one of the written papers, and covers the science and theory behind the study of Psychiatry. The paper is three hours long and candidates may earn a maximum of 200 marks. Two thirds of the paper is comprised of multiple choice questions, with the remainder made up of extended matching item questions, or EMIs. The following topics may be covered:
- Classification in psychiatry,
- Behavioural science, and
- Human development.
Like Part A, Part B is a written exam, but it assesses critical review in psychiatry – roughly one third – along with clinical topics for the remainder, with roughly 30% dedicated to General Adult Psychiatry. It is also worth 200 marks. Paper B covers the following topics:
Marking the Written Papers
Both papers consist of multiple choice and extended matching item questions, or MCQs and EMIs, respectively. The exact number of each is variable, but it will always be a roughly two-thirds MCQ to one-third EMI weighting.
The MCQs feature a couple of sentences, and then five options. Candidates are then required to pick the best option from the list, for a maximum of one mark for the correct choice.
The EMIs feature a theme that links a set of questions, followed by individual questions and lists of options. The questions are usually short vignettes or situations, and the candidate chooses one or more best options from the list. One mark is awarded for each correct answer, and no marks are deducted for incorrect answers.
Candidates are graded against an absolute standard, and not relative to their peers’ performance, with the Modified Angoff Method used as the basis for pass marks. SMEs are asked how many minimally-qualified candidates they believe would answer each question correctly, with their assessments then being averaged.
The CASC follows the structure of an OSCE, and is comprised of two circuits of individual stations – one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Each candidate will complete both circuits, with seven minutes to complete each station. However, in the morning session, each station will be preceded by four minutes of reading time, but only 90 seconds in the afternoon session.
There is a minimum score that candidates must achieve, in addition to reaching the passing score in a minimum of 12 stations. Achieving both criteria demonstrates that the candidate has reached an acceptable level of performance across the breadth of core training. The minimum of 12 stations has been set because of the five examination stations, and five history-taking stations, a borderline candidate should pass eight. In addition to these eight required passes, a borderline candidate is expected to pass four of the six management stations.
Candidates may also fail the examination if they receive at least two ‘severe fail’ comments – irrespective of their performance on any other stations.
The precise dates of the examination and application periods for each paper are liable to change. Candidates are encouraged to check the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ website ahead of submitting an application. The current dates are as follows.
|Examination||Application Opening Date||Application Closing Date||Examination Date||Results Date
|Paper A||8 October 2018||26 October 2018||4 December 2018||TBC
|Paper B||30 July 2018||17 August 2018||9 October 2018||9 November 2018
|CASC ||11 June 2018 ||29 June 2018||11 - 12 October 2018||9 November 2018