Right decisions

To develop examinations of the highest possible quality, which are the first choice for aspiring physicians wishing to demonstrate their knowledge and clinical skills, decisions must be evidence based, timely and fair.

How we make decisions in relation to MRCP(UK)

We work hard to ensure that our exams are evidence based, valid, reliable, practical to deliver, and fair to all candidates and monitor every aspect of our work. For example, data from candidate surveys can tell us a lot about the needs of our stakeholders, the quality of the exams and the efficiency of our processes.

Working with data, intelligently and consistently, is part of our everyday activity. An expert team of research staff, aided by academics and educational advisors, provides essential statistics after each examination sitting. We also respond to and support academic research in the field. This work demands time, expertise and investment – and is essential to maintain and continually improve the quality of the Federation’s exams.

Who makes decisions about our examinations?

A robust structure of governance protects the quality and reputation of the examinations that underpins the professional value of your examinations.

Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians

The Federation is responsible for policy and commercial decisions across the joint college activities of Training, Examinations and Continuing Professional Development. The Federation meets three times a year and focuses on the key political drivers impacting the Federation's work.

MRCP(UK) Management and Policy Board

Management and Policy Board is responsible for advising the Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians on all policy and academic matters relating to the MRCP(UK) exams. Management and Policy Board meets four times a year and is chaired by the MRCP(UK) Medical Director.

Academic and Quality Management Research Committee (AQMRC)

AQMRC is responsible for setting and monitoring the academic quality, standard and fairness of the examinations, for example pass rates and equality and diversity, and membership includes the chairs and officers of all the MRCP(UK) and SCE examining boards.

MRCP(UK) Standards Advisory Review Group (MSARG)

The MRCP(UK) Standards Advisory Review Group (MSARG), meets annually and gives us an external perspective on the MRCP(UK) diploma. Its role is to provide a view on whether all parts of the examination are set at the right standard. The group has members representing the local education and training boards, NHS Employers, trainees, international medical graduates, doctors from minority ethnic backgrounds, and lay people, as well as an expert on educational psychometrics, and officers from the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB). MSARG reports to the AQMRC.

The group reviews the standards across the different examinations, and provides advice on content and standard setting. This year the agenda covered:

  • the 2017 metrics
  • plans to publish more information about the quality metrics for examinations
  • the effect of changes to the pass standards for the three parts of the MRCP(UK) Diploma
  • the impact of the introduction of the new internal medicine curriculum on MRCP(UK)
  • plans for developing the examinations, including PACES 2020
  • standard-setting methodology for the SCEs.

Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) Steering Group

The Steering Group meets once a year and brings together representatives (usually the lead specialist or exam board chair) of each specialty running an SCE to review examination delivery and monitor trends data, for example candidate numbers, progression and pass rates.

Examining Boards

Guarding the standard of each individual examination is the remit of the Examining Boards. They ensure the examination reflects the current UK curriculum and requirements of the General Medical Council, working closely with question and scenario writers, to guarantee that content is balanced and pitched at the right level of difficulty.

MRCP(UK) (Part 1, Part 2 and Clinical Exam Board) and SCE Exam Boards (one per specialty)

The Exam Boards are responsible to Management and Policy Board or the SCE Steering Group for ensuring that all academic objectives related to the exams are met. Part 1, Part 2 and CEB meet three times a year, and SCE Boards meet once a year.

Responsibilities include:  
• Reviewing the performance of each exam
• Approving the pass mark
• Setting exam papers and commissioning questions
• Reviewing the statistical analysis of question performance
• Considering appeals, cases of academic or professional misconduct and complaints
• Agreeing changes to the regulations
• Identifying and reviewing sample questions for the website.