Shaping the future of examinations

We are committed to the continuous improvement of the academic standards of our exams, and providing the evidence to demonstrate that quality. Since 2008 when the exams were accepted as essential for physicians in training, we have been analysing the performance of the exams and developing systems and process to support improvements and ensure that they remain the best.

For the MRCP(UK) examination, the challenge remains that we must be alert to any external influences that may provoke changes to the content or the timing of the curriculum. Of particular note is the publication of the Shape of Training Review and the report from the Future Hospitals Commission. As training and the wider medical environment evolves, examinations will need to remain in step and relevant, assessing trainees on the appropriate knowledge. The examinations must give them, their future employers and the public, confidence in the standards of their achievements.

Focus on data

With a strong commitment to the continuous improvement of our portfolio of examinations we are keen to utilise data to its maximum effect. Working with data, intelligently and consistently provides benefits in a number of key areas, such as compliance with GMC regulations, validation of the examinations, reducing costs and highlighting areas of concern.

Monitoring, analysis and reporting of relevant data will become ever more important in the future, as we adapt our exams to shifting patient profiles, changes in education and advances in medicine. We continually monitor pass rates, the academic quality of the exams, and equal opportunities data. We also monitor longer-term trends in candidate performance. Examination data provides essential input to guide the programme of academic development and ensures that decisions about the examinations are based on evidence.

Development of PACES

One of the defining features of the MRCP(UK) Diploma is the Part 2 Clinical Examination (PACES), which tests a candidate’s physical examination, communication, and bedside diagnostic reasoning skills. Ultimately, the goal is for all candidates to have an opportunity to attempt PACES at a time and place that suits them. We are working hard to meet these needs by maximising the efficiency of our systems and looking for new approaches.

More flexibility

Delivery of PACES is currently based on three set periods during the academic year. Our key aim is to offer PACES on a continuous basis in the UK, without the restrictions of the current calendar. This increased flexibility will take us closer to our goal of offering candidates exams they can sit in a local venue, at a time that allows them to meet important deadlines and their patient care commitments.