MRCP(UK) PACES update

14 Dec 2021

Why is it still taking 6 weeks to release results?

The timeline for the release of PACES results was extended to up to 6 weeks in 2020 due to a number of pandemic related factors, including the introduction of virtual examiners for stations 2 & 4 which now means that mark sheets are in multiple locations rather than just one centre.

Mark sheets from all exam centres, including from the four remote examiners, are initially returned to the Examination office of the organising College (RCPE, RCPSG and RCP). They are then collated and securely shipped to MRCP(UK) Central Office in London for results processing where results are scanned, quality checked and analysed before they can be released. On occasions, the scanner will reject mark sheets which it cannot read and additional checks are required to ensure accuracy.  Only when all checks have been performed will we release results for a centre.

This timeline accounts for the fact that examination teams at the three Colleges and also MRCP(UK) Central Office are mostly working from home as per government guidance. This also considers any possible delays with postage, couriers, infection control and any additional checks needed as part of our quality and review processes. We always release results as soon as possible and in the majority of cases this is well within the 6-week timeline.

If the pandemic situation allows, we will revert to pre-COVID examining in 2022 with no remote examiners and we will be in a position to release UK results in a shorter time frame.

The spreadsheet is completed on the day – it doesn’t require a face to face process.

The spreadsheet which is completed on the day is indicative of likely outcome to provide feedback to examiners but is not used in the overall marking process. It is not subjected to the same quality assurance as the mark sheets and is not used to determine pass or fail status of candidates. Scanning the mark sheets and performing full accuracy and quality checks is the definitive process and is essential before results are released. We will never release results until we have verified their accuracy. Scanning the mark sheets is not a process which can be carried out by home working. Face to face work is required for this process.

Why doesn’t the College increase available places?

In the UK, the PACES exam is run by the three Colleges (RCPE, RCPSG and RCP). The examination teams from the three Colleges have worked tirelessly to maximise the number of places available. However, some of their usual examination venues are unable to accommodate appropriate social distancing and some hospitals have not had access to their usual facilities during the pandemic. In addition, the 2 mini- carousel format to reduce footfall and infection risk at the exam centres mean that a maximum of 12 candidates per day can be examined per centre. Pre-COVID, many centres would examine 15 candidates per day and some double running or triple running carousels could run 30-45 candidates per day. It is not possible to run double or triple running cycles whilst maintaining social distancing. Safety of patients, candidates, examiners and administrative staff is our first priority. Pandemic allowing, we plan to revert to our pre-COVID 5 station carousel in 2022 which should allow us to increase capacity.

I am doing alternative competencies and have not obtained a place on multiple occasions

Candidates who have not previously been in a UK approved training post but are applying for ST3 posts have been given a degree of priority – see below. Our aim is to maximise the number of available PACES places before ST3 posts commence in Aug 2022.

UK PACES Prioritisation Criteria 2022/1

I have not received my MRCP(UK) certificate

Diploma certificates are issued by the College of entry and not from MRCP(UK) Central Office. Please contact your College of entry if you have not received it.