The RCOG has issued a statement about the postponement of the MRCOG Part 1 examination on Monday 19th September.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:
“Regrettably we have had to postpone the MRCOG Part 1 examination in the UK on Monday 19th September as our exam partner has closed all UK test centres due to Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral. We sincerely apologise for the impact that this will have on candidates preparing to sit the exam.
“The 77 UK candidates are part of a cohort of over 800 O&G doctors preparing to sit the exam in more than 40 countries around the world on Monday. The College has explored all potential options in its efforts to deliver the UK exam as planned, including implementing a paper based delivery, registering our own computer based test centres and using hospitals as an exam venue and recruiting invigilators. Unfortunately due to the late notice of the UK Bank Holiday and the incredibly short time scales, we have tried to minimise the impact on all candidates and made the difficult decision to postpone the UK exam.
“The September 2022 examination is an extra diet that has been run to allow all candidates affected by the pandemic to sit the examination globally. Due to the time that it takes to draft new examination papers to the high standard required, and to ensure the integrity of the examination papers, it is not possible to run an additional examination diet before the Part 1 in January 2023.
“We understand this is disappointing news, and that this will be incredibly disruptive for many. We continue to offer support where we can to affected candidates to try and alleviate this situation, including the option to travel to test centres in the Republic of Ireland and Europe.
“Our primary focus throughout has been and continues to be the candidates impacted by this disruption. We will of course reimburse impacted candidates for any non-refundable travel expenses incurred for the now cancelled examination. We have offered to support candidates with the additional financial costs associated with attending an international centre, though we recognise that this solution will not be feasible or appropriate for all. Any candidates not able to travel to an overseas centre will be guaranteed a place in the next exam diet in January 2023, or a diet of their choosing and all impacted candidates will be gifted a free place on a RCOG revision course ahead of their rescheduled exam.”
For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
MRCOG Part 1 examination activity timeline
Thursday 8th September
- On Thursday 8th September 2022, the general public were informed that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II had sadly passed away, entering the country into a period of ten days of mourning.
- The RCOG begun to conduct horizon scanning to assess the possible impact to the Part 1 and Part 2 exams which were due to take place on Monday 19th September and Tuesday 20th.
Friday 9th September
- RCOG agreed its approach to the public period of mourning.
- On Friday 9th September it was confirmed to the general public that there would likely be ten days of mourning plus a possible Bank Holiday on the day of the funeral.
- The RCOG investigated test centre plans in the event of Bank Holiday, no confirmation could be given at this stage.
- Senior RCOG stakeholders briefed.
Saturday 10th September and Sunday 11th September
- On Saturday King Charles III ascension speech confirmed that the Queen’s funeral will be a Bank Holiday.
- Chair of Trainees' Committee briefed.
- Throughout the weekend the RCOG were assessing the possible scale of the impact for the 827 global candidates; 77 in the UK and 750 outside the UK.
- There are a number of contingency plans in place for MRCOG examinations, these were initially considered at this time under these unique circumstances for UK candidates and included :
- Turning Union Street into a computer based testing centre. This would also require getting the building accredited as a test centre.
- Writing a whole new exam to be delivered before January.
- Turning the digital exam into a paper-based exam.
- Utilise hospital post graduate centres for a digital exam.
- Consolidating the number of testing centres available to regional centres.
- Remote proctoring of the exam.
Monday 12th September
- Further consideration and discussion of contingency options. None of which were deemed viable due to the compressed timeframes, which meant the minimum standards for quality and security to maintain exam validity could not be guaranteed.
- Consideration was given to the GMC guidance for maintaining postgraduate assessment programmes as any deviation from standard exam delivery would need to be compliant with the regulator’s standards set for assessment.
- The September 2022 examination was already an extra diet being run to allow all candidates affected by the pandemic to sit the examination globally. Due to the time that it takes to draft new examination papers to the high standard required, and to ensure the integrity of the examination papers, it was not deemed possible to run an additional examination diet before the Part 1 in January 2023.
- At 5.30pm on Monday 12th September RCOG received confirmation that test centres would be closed on the Bank Holiday.
- All options considered were fed back to Senior RCOG stakeholders and the difficult decision was taken in conjunction with RCOG Exams staff and The National Trainees Committee that the exam should continue for the 750 non-UK candidates and regrettably would need to be postponed for the 77 UK candidates.
Tuesday 13th September
- On Tuesday morning, The College wrote to all affected UK candidates to inform them of the postponement, guaranteeing their place in the next diet in January 2023.
- RCOG explored outsourcing the exam delivery to another testing provider however all confirmed they were closing for the Bank Holiday. The potential of bringing in contract workers to their test centres to deliver the exam was also considered but not viable.
- RCOG explored the availability to ring fence test centres spaces in the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe specifically for RCOG candidates to enable UK candidates to travel to take the exam outside the UK if they were able and willing to do so.
- A member of the public, posted on Twitter a screenshot of a specific section of the email which lacked the detail and context of the situation. This began to gather comments on Twitter.
- The RCOG informed all Heads of School and the Lead Dean of the postponement and agreed to work with them to understand any possible impact to candidates on their career progression.
- President Dr Edward Morris arranged an urgent call with test centre management to see if there was any possibility of reconsidering their position and to establish a compensation package.
- The RCOG media team drafted a statement that was issued reactively when necessary.
- 85 exam places were secured in countries across Europe for candidates wanting to travel to take the exam on 19th September and communicated this to impacted candidates on Tuesday evening.
Wednesday 14th September
- BMA tweeted its disappointment about the exam cancellation and contacted RCOG to ask to provide an update on our activity.
- The RCOG media team published a statement on the RCOG website.
- The RCOG considered the option of inviting candidates to quarantining on Monday to allow them to sit the exam the day after the Bank Holiday, however exam security standards could not be assured.
- RCOG President was informed the decision would not be reversed and the conversation shifted to reimbursement options.
- In the evening The BMA and the RCOG discussed the extensive options the RCOG had worked through. RCOG confirmed their priority was and would continue to be ensuring those impacted candidates were looked after at this difficult time.
- News of the postponement was covered by the following media outlets: The Independent, MSN and LBC. We also received requests from Englemed News, BBC World at One, BBC Radio 4 and The BMJ.
Thursday 15th September
- RCOG continued conversations with test centre management regarding compensation packages.
- RCOG candidates have the offer of a Europe exam space extended until the end of Friday 16th September.
- RCOG have offered all candidates travelling to an overseas centre up to £300 reimbursement of travel and accommodation costs.
- RCOG have offered any candidates who have not been able to recoup booked travel expenses to attend the now cancelled examination on Monday, to refund these expenses up to the value of £300. All impacted candidates will also be gifted a free place on the December 2022 Part 1 revision course ahead of their rescheduled exam.