Exam pass marks

MRCP(UK) examinations

Examination Pass mark
Part 1 528
Part 2 Written 454
PACES 130 (see individual skills breakdown below) 


The following information provides an explanation on the application of pass marks in all three components of the MRCP(UK) and the Specialty Certificate Examinations.

MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination

As stated in the MRCP(UK) Regulations, since the 2008/3 MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination diet, candidates’ overall results have been calculated using a process called equating. This is a statistical process based on Item Response Theory, and it is used to ensure that candidates receive comparable results for comparable performance in different diets of the examination.

Instead of an overall percentage score, all candidates are given an ‘overall scaled score’. This score is a number between 0 and 999, which is calculated from the number of questions a candidate has answered correctly in the two examination papers and also takes into account the relative difficulty of the examination. Since no two examinations can contain exactly the same set of questions, it is inevitable that some papers may be slightly harder (or easier) than others, and equating is a statistical process that addresses this by calculating the exact difficulty of each question.

The MRCP(UK) Part 1 Standard Setting Group has determined that an overall scaled score of 528 or greater will be considered a pass. Please note that this score will be subject to review and candidates are advised to consult the website for the latest information. As a result of this process the pass rate (i.e. the percentage of candidates who pass) may vary slightly from one diet to another. The MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination’s pass rate is available on the Exam pass rates page.

MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written Examination

As stated in the MRCP(UK) Regulations, from the 2010/1 MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written Examination diet, candidates’ overall results have been calculated using a process called equating. This is a statistical process based on Item Response Theory, and it is used to ensure that candidates receive comparable results for comparable performance in different diets of the examination.

The process is very similar to equating MRCP(UK) Part 1 Examination: instead of an overall percentage score, all candidates are given an ‘overall scaled score’. This score is a number between 0 and 999, which is calculated from the number of questions a candidate has answered correctly in the three examination papers and also takes into account the relative difficulty of the examination. Since no two examinations can contain exactly the same set of questions, it is inevitable that some papers may be slightly harder (or easier) than others, and equating is a statistical process that addresses this by calculating the exact difficulty of each question.

The scaled ability score which will be applied as the pass mark from 2016/3 and was agreed by the MRCP(UK) Part 2 Standard Setting Group is 454. Further information on how the decision was made to change the pass mark is available in the report from the MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written Examination - November 2015 Standard Setting Exercise. As a result of equating, the pass rate (i.e. the percentage of candidates who pass) may vary slightly from one diet to another. The MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written Examination’s pass rate is available on the Exam pass rates page.

MRCP(UK) Part 2 Clinical Examination (PACES)

The MRCP(UK) Clinical Examining Board (CEB) now sets the pass marks on an annual basis before the examination.

To pass MRCP(UK) Part 2 Clinical Examination (PACES) candidates must attain a minimum standard in each of the seven skills and also a minimum total score across the whole assessment.

PACES skills pass marks (until 2017/1)

Further information on how the decision was made to change the skills pass marks is available in the report from the MRCP(UK) PACES Standard Setting exercise.

  Skill Pass mark (% of marks available)
A Physical Examination 14 (58.3%)
B Identifying Physical Signs 14 (58.3%)
C Clinical Communication 10 (62.5%)
D Differential Diagnosis 16 (57.1%)
E Clinical Judgement 18 (56.3%)
F Managing Patient Concerns 10 (62.5%)
G Managing Patient Welfare 28 (87.5%)


In addition, candidates must achieve an overall score of 130 to be eligible to pass.

The CEB reviews the whole examination regularly through the year, so if there are any concerns about the examination, the CEB will be able to amend the pass marks at any time during the year for future diets. Reasonable notice will be given to candidates if a change is made but it will not affect those candidates who have already completed the examination and had their results confirmed.

Full details of how the pass mark is applied by the MRCP(UK) Clinical Examining Board are set out in the MRCP(UK) Regulations.

How PACES is marked

To find out more about how PACES is marked and what information candidates receive after the exam please see the document Marking of PACES.

Specialty Certificate Examinations

The Specialty Certificate Examination is criterion referenced. In advance of the test, the difficulty of each question is considered by a Standard Setting Group, comprising practising Consultant Physicians who have participated in setting the Specialty Certificate Examination and those who have medical education experience relevant to this process. The standard setters assess the difficulty of the questions against the level of knowledge expected of candidates using a procedure known as the modified Angoff method.

All judgements by all standard setters on all questions are then collated into a criterion-referenced pass mark. This pass mark is combined with UK trainees’ marks by using the Hofstee compromise method which will establish the final pass mark. As a result of the standard setting process, the pass mark and pass rate may vary at each SCE.