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Examinations appeals policy

How we process examinations appeals

Background

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is committed to delivering a high quality service. We recognise that errors can occur and that on very rare occasions our examinations can be subject to disruptions that may affect candidate performance. To ensure that all candidates are assessed fairly, there is a procedure to allow candidates to appeal against the outcome of their examination. 

 

Our policy

This policy aims to:

  • provide a fair and transparent appeals policy, which is clear and accessible for anyone wishing to make an appeal
  • publicise the existence of our appeals policy so that people know how to contact us
  • ensure all relevant RCCOG staff know what to do if an appeal is received
  • ensure all appeals are investigated fairly and in a timely manner
  • ensure that appeals are, wherever possible, resolved in a satisfactory manner
  • use any appeals received as a learning experience to improve our work

This policy applies to all RCOG examinations:

  • MRCOG Part 1
  • MRCOG Part 2
  • MRCOG Part 3
  • DRCOG

 

Policy scope

The scope of this policy relates to matters where a candidate wishes to appeal the outcome of their examination for the following reasons:

  • There was  a procedural or logistical irregularity in the conduct of the examination, which has adversely affected a candidate’s performance
  • There were exceptional circumstances, such as illness or bereavement, which have adversely affected a candidate’s performance. Candidates should note, however, that there is a process to withdraw from examinations prior to the examination date (please see the RCOG Examinations Exceptional Circumstances Policy) and that by attending an examination candidates are normally certifying themselves as fit to do so

 

Out of scope

Some candidates who have failed one or more parts of an examination may feel that they deserved to pass and wish to appeal against the declared result. While the RCOG is sympathetic to such candidates’ disappointment, it is considered that in applying marking schedules and making judgements nothing can supplant the judgement of the individual examiner(s) marking an exam component.

Accordingly, no appeal will be entertained solely on the grounds that a candidate wishes to challenge the judgement of the examiners or their examination result. The RCOG takes the view that all possible and necessary precautions to ensure the maximum reliability of the result and to compensate for errors of measurement are built into the marking process. Unless there is good reason to suspect a procedural error, the RCOG does not consider it appropriate for any papers to be re-marked, or for any reassignment to be made of grades obtained in the clinical assessment. Our response to any such request will be confined to checking that no administrative, procedural, numerical, data transcription or computing errors have occurred, and that the declared result accurately reflects the judgement of the examiners.

In determining its policy, the RCOG has given consideration to three main points of principle:

  • Our marking and standard-setting procedures are such that in all components the reliability of the marking decision is greatest at the time of the initial examiners’ judgement, i.e., when the candidate’s performance in the examination is fresh in the examiners’ memory
  • Subsequent review by different or senior examiners or by independent assessors cannot guarantee greater accuracy or reliability, as the conditions that foster marking reliability cannot be recreated at a later date. Moreover, in the case of the clinical assessment, there is no residual physical evidence of the candidate’s performance which could be revisited
  • Our post examination marking processes are subject to quality assurance processes and results are validated by an independent psychometrician

It is recognised that on occasion it may be initially unclear whether a case constitutes an appeal or complaint, hence the Examinations Department reserves the right to reclassify appeals to a complaint or vice-versa at any stage in proceedings, in consultation with the person complaining or appealing. Such reclassification will always be done so that the matter can be considered in the most appropriate and fair way. In such instances, candidates will not be required to resubmit their cases following any reclassification.

 

Submitting an appeal

To make an appeal, please complete the Examinations Appeals form (Word document, 55kb) and email to examsappeals@rcog.org.uk

By making your appeal in a timely manner, this will better allow the matter to be investigated and the College to identify, where necessary, a suitable remedy.

Therefore, appeals must be submitted within 20 working days of the incident that occurred or 20 calendar days after the date the RCOG communicates the related examination result outcome. Please note that any appeal submitted after this deadline will not be reviewed unless there are highly extenuating circumstances.

Please note, working days are defined in this policy as Monday to Friday excepting UK bank holidays and College closure over Christmas.

 

How your appeal will be managed

Stage 1
We will acknowledge your appeal within two working days of its receipt.

Stage 2
Your appeal will be reviewed by a senior manager of the RCOG Examinations Department, who will, within five working days of receipt of your appeal, confirm whether your appeal falls within the scope of this policy and the appropriate next steps.

Stage 3
If your appeal falls within the scope of the policy, an appeal panel will investigate your appeal and gather the relevant facts, ensuring that the information gathered is accurate and complete. In some instances, a meeting between the appeal panel and candidate will be necessary. The appeal panel response will contain reasons for either upholding or rejecting your appeal and will be issued within 30 working days of receipt of your original appeal. Where your appeal has been upheld, a member of the appeal panel will contact you regarding a proposed remedy. In addition, if the appeal is upheld, the action taken and the lessons learned or to be learned will be logged for future purposes.

The appeals panel will normally comprise:

  • Chair of the Examination and Assessment Committee (or nominee)
  • Vice President, Education (or nominee)
  • Executive Director for Development (or nominee)
  • A Member or Fellow from RCOG Council

In some instances, depending on the nature of the appeal, an additional independent appeal panel member may be required.

 

Appeal decisions

The decision of the appeal panel is final. There is no further mechanism either within this policy or in the wider College to challenge the decision of the panel.

 

Confidentiality

Your appeal and all accompanying documentation will be kept confidential as far as is possible in facilitating a fair and thorough investigation. While your privacy and confidentiality will be respected, this needs to be balanced with:

  • The need for an open and fair investigation
  • Appropriate remedial action to be taken
  • The outcome of the investigation to be reported appropriately
  • Action to be taken to improve our processes and quality of service

 

The Examinations Department will endeavour to anonymise candidates when considering an appeal. However, it will occasionally be necessary to disclose the identity of the individual appealing beyond the reviewing senior manager or appeal panel to progress an investigation. Candidates who are not willing for their identity to be disclosed in this way should make this clear in their letter of appeal.

 

The RCOG will take all necessary steps to support all parties involved in an appeal and undertake all investigations sensitively and expediently.

 

Candidates are assured that they have the opportunity to raise matters of legitimate concern through this policy without risk of disadvantage or criticism.

 

Data retention

All materials relating to your appeal will be is kept on active file for 12 months from the date of receipt of your first email to examsappeals@rcog.org.uk and will then be destroyed.

 

Policy last updated: July 2018