In response to the ongoing global pandemic, the RCOG has taken the difficult decision to run the Part 3 exam in the UK only for solely UK trainees. To allow for social distancing requirements it will be run from 2–5 November 2020.
This decision has been made in order to protect the health of our candidates, examiners and staff as we continue to follow government guidelines and respond to the continued COVID-19 restrictions both in the UK and overseas.
We will be adopting a partially digitised delivery to the examination. The content, format, structure, statistical analysis, standard setting and results calculation will remain unchanged. The only difference in set-up is that the interactions and observations of the tasks are to take place over videoconferencing technology, to allow compliance with government COVID-19 secure regulations.
Candidates will be required to attend our Union Street venue. In the exam hall, candidates will sit in individual cubicles where they will find a laptop with headphones and binders containing the instructions for each individual task. The instructions will be clearly labelled and in the order of each task for the candidate.
The candidate and role player/structured discussion examiner interaction will all take place using videoconferencing via Microsoft Teams (MS Teams). The role player/examiner interacting with the candidate for each task will be set up on MS Teams within the same building, to ensure connectively, but in separate rooms to allow full social distancing. Candidates will stay in the one cubicle for the entirety of the exam, using MS Teams to interact with the respective role player/clinical examiner for each task.
A clinical circuit co-ordinator as well as support staff will be in the same room monitoring all candidates in each circuit and providing additional support where required.
All clinical and lay examiners scoring the candidates will observe by joining the MS Teams meeting and mark in real time. These examiners will be joining remotely and will have their video switched off and audio muted. An RCOG staff member will have administrative control and oversight of each meeting, noting any incidents. The interactions will be recorded, allowing marking to be conducted after each task, should examiners scoring the interaction remotely have issues with their connectivity. Recordings will be deleted as soon as scoring has been completed and submitted, QA checks have been conducted and no issues have been raised on the day by the candidate.
To protect all stakeholders at the venue the role players, examiners and candidates will all be required to wear face masks when outside of the examination cubicles. RCOG staff running the examination at the venue will wear PPE.
A pilot event has been completed to test the digital set-up, and amendments made accordingly, to ensure that it’s for purpose and the integrity of the exam will not be compromised. The revised partial digitised delivery of the Part 3 exam has been approved by the GMC.
Candidates will be sent a ‘Candidate Guide’ with further information ahead of the exam, which will include a ‘How to guide to using Microsoft Teams’.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many consultations and meetings in the NHS are being conducted remotely through the use of videoconferencing technology. In order to facilitate the running of the exam we have selected tasks that can be undertaken using this medium. The tasks will run as per the instructions but please bear this in mind when conducting the remote consultation with a patient or discussion with a colleague. This is a useful link used by many health boards.
Other useful learning resources for communication and consultation skills:
BMJ learning modules: Advanced communication skills part 1/2/3 By Roger Neighbour
NHS e-Learning for Healthcare: Helping Patients Make Informed Decisions: Communicating Potential Harms and Benefits (Obstetrics and Gynaecology)
We have answered the questions you may have in the FAQs below. If you have any further queries please contact us at MRCOGPart3@rcog.org.uk.
Frequently asked questions
Is the Part 3 exam likely to be postponed as a result of local or national COVID-19 restrictions?
There are currently no plans to postpone. We are continuing as planned; the current rules permit us to deliver the exam on the basis of it being key educational activity. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have released a statement regarding attendance at necessary travel to educational events.
Will I need to wear a face mask during the exam?
Candidates are instructed to bring a face mask with them. Candidates do not need to wear a mask while sat at their desk in their designated cubicle in the exam hall, when completing the exam tasks. However, candidates will be instructed to wear one leaving their cubicle and when navigating in other parts of the building.
What will happen if I can’t attend the exam as I am required to self-isolate?
In order to protect the safety of all participants, candidates that are required to self-isolate/quarantine in line with government guidelines should not attend the exam. Candidates in this scenario will be guaranteed a place at the next available sitting at no additional charge.
Why is the MRCOG Part 3 exam only being held in the UK?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions both in the UK and overseas, the traditional exam delivery format will not be possible. As a result of the format changes that are being made, the RCOG will need to directly ensure the quality of the exam is maintained, which cannot be done overseas as our examiners will not be able to travel.
When will the next MRCOG Part 3 date be?
We are looking into running an additional exam in 2021 and will update further on this when we have confirmation. The next confirmed exam is 17–20 May 2021.
Who is eligible for a guaranteed place on the November exam?
The November exam will only have places for UK trainees.
I am an overseas candidate who due to demand has not been able to gain a place on the MRCOG Part 3, when will I be able to sit the examination?
Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions have meant that our overseas expansion plan has been halted for the remainder of 2020, however we are doing everything we can to increase the number of exam places to meet demand from 2021.
We are aware there are candidates who have struggled to gain a place and we are looking at how we can address this problem as soon as possible.