This page describes how the MRCOG examination maintains its reliability and fairness, and sets out the College policy towards failing candidates. This policy is founded on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Regulations that pertain to appeals against examination results. These Regulations are sanctioned by the RCOG Board of Trustees.
This page intends to provide information to candidates who:
- feel that there were special circumstances concerning the delivery of the examination which may have affected their performance
- wish to challenge their result in any part of the exam
- are dissatisfied with the conduct of any part of the exam
- wish to lodge a complaint
The MRCOG exam has a series of measures in place to monitor and maintain reliability in all its components. Question-writers and examiners are subject to a rigorous selection and training process, and their performance as assessors is regularly scrutinised by means of observation and statistical analysis. Equal opportunities training is compulsory for all new examiners before being accepted onto the Panel. Various fail-safe procedures are also in place to double-check manual calculations and to prevent data-handling errors in the computer processing of marks.
Feedback on the reasons for failure
The College routinely provides as much feedback on candidates’ performance as is both practicable and consistent with the security of marking schedules. We have a policy of continuous improvement in this area. However, candidates should note that the MRCOG is a summative rather than a formative assessment. We cannot undertake to create a personalised commentary on candidates’ performances beyond what is contained in results letters.
If you wish to challenge your result
Some candidates who have failed one or more parts of the examination feel that they deserved to pass, and wish to appeal against the declared result. Some send letters of support from Trainers or colleagues. However, while we sympathise with such candidates’ disappointment and understand their feeling that the examiners may have been in error, we consider that in applying marking schedules and making judgements nothing can supplant the judgement of the individual examiner(s) marking an exam component.
In determining its policy, the Examination and Assessment Committee has given consideration to two 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 clinical assessment 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.
Accordingly, no appeal will be entertained solely on the grounds that the candidate wishes to challenge the judgement of the examiners. The Examination and Assessment Committee 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 College does not consider it appropriate for any written papers to be remarked, 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.
If you feel that you have grounds for requesting a review of your result which are not covered by this section of the Regulations, you must follow the procedure set out below.
If you wish to make a complaint
This section of the Regulations sets out what you must do if you wish to complain about any aspect of the conduct of the examination, or if you consider that there are exceptional circumstances not covered by the foregoing which you wish to bring to the attention of the Examination and Assessment Committee.
- If you wish to lodge any kind of complaint, or ask for any issue to be investigated, or request consideration of any exceptional circumstances, you must notify the Head of the Examination Department (“the Convenor”) in writing within 21 days from the date of issue of the result.
- The written submission must include your name and address, and also your telephone number, fax number or e-mail address, College registration and candidate number.
- The written submission must state: the specific part of the examination result against which the complaint is being made; the grounds upon which the complaint is based; and the revised decision being sought.
- Your submission will be dealt with in the first instance by the Convenor, who will take all appropriate steps to ascertain the relevant facts, including consulting, where necessary, with examiners or Examination Department staff. The Convenor will respond in writing as soon as practicable and, in any event, no later than 28 days after receipt of your submission.
- By way of example only, and not intended as an exhaustive list, the following remedies are at Convenor’s disposal following the upholding or the acceptance of a submission:
- an explanation or apology
- an undertaking to review relevant administrative procedures
- checking of data entry into the examination’s computing systems
- a refund of the examination fee
- waiving of the examination fee in respect of re-sitting the examination
- In the event that you remain dissatisfied after receiving the Convenor’s response, you must within 14 days of its receipt by you write again to the Convenor, giving your reasons for considering that the matter had not been satisfactorily resolved by prior correspondence and by notifying him of your wish to take the matter forward to an appeal. The Convenor will refer to the Chief Executive who will decide whether or not the matter might fall within the remit of an Appeals Panel. The Chief Executive’s decision on this matter shall be final and binding. In the event of an appeal, a fee will be payable (see below).
Conduct of appeal
- If the Chief Executive so decides, he or she will convene a meeting of an Appeals Panel to consider your case as soon as reasonably practicable. The Appeals Panel will comprise: an Honorary Officer of the College; a member of the College’s Panel of Examiners not previously involved with the candidate; a Fellow or Member, not necessarily a member of the College’s Panel of Examiners.
- The Chief Executive, or appointed deputy, who is independent of the decision making process, shall be designated the Appeal Manager and be responsible for ensuring that each application is managed in accordance with these regulations.
- The Appeal Manager will determine whether the application is in time, is complete and does not contain manifestly incorrect facts.
- If the application is received out of time, the Appeal Manager will not accept the application and will inform the applicant within 7 days of receipt of the application by the College that it is invalid.
- If the application is based upon manifestly incorrect facts, the Appeal Manager will not accept the application and will send to the applicant details of the correct facts within 7 days of receipt of the application by the College.
- If the details given in the application are incomplete, the Appeal Manager will give the applicant notice of this fact in writing within 7 days of receipt of the application by the College. The applicant will have a further and final 14 days from the date of posting of this notice to submit the remaining details.
- If the application is in time, the details are complete and it is not based upon manifestly incorrect facts, the Appeal Manager will acknowledge acceptance of the application within 7 days of its receipt by the College and inform the applicant that the application has been referred to the Appeals Panel.
- Failure of the applicant to meet the timescale as set out above will render an appeal invalid.
- The first task of the Appeal Manager will be to confirm the Appeals Panel’s terms of reference. The Appeals Panel will base its deliberations on the application received and may seek evidence from any person or source it considers relevant.
- The Appeals Panel’s decision will be final. If the Appeals Panel upholds the application, the Appeal Manager will implement the decision.
The appeal fee will be £100 made payable to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The fee will be refunded if the appeal is successful.
Your attention is drawn to the fact that in signing your application to sit the Membership examination you agree to be bound by the terms of the Examination Regulations, including those set out in this section.