PACES exams update: 28 September

28 Sep 2021

Exemption from self-isolation if identified as a close COVID-19 contact

Candidates and examiners who have failed the pre-exam Health Questionnaire on the basis that they need to self-isolate on account of being identified as a close contact may still be able to attend the examination but only if they fulfil all criteria for exemption from self-isolation as noted below:

They must have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccination at least 2 weeks previously and provide proof of vaccination.

They should not have had any COVID-19 symptoms within the past 10 days:

- New persistent cough lasting more than one hour
- Shortness of breath
- Fever > 37.8 degrees centigrade
- Shivers or rigors
- New onset loss of sense of smell
- New onset loss of sense of taste

  • They should immediately arrange for a PCR test, and the result of this PCR test must be negative prior to attending the exam centre. Proof of the negative PCR will be required.
  • Following the negative PCR result, the candidate / examiner should undertake an LFD antigen test every day for the 10 days following their last contact with the case (including on the day of the exam before attending).
  • if a candidate/ examiner has had a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the past 90 days, they should not have a PCR test and should only undertake daily LFD antigen tests (including on the day of the exam before attending).
  • the candidate / examiner must notify the host College if they subsequently test positive for COVID-19.
  • the candidate /examiner must comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE should be worn properly throughout the day.

For exams running at weekends:

Please only attend the exam centre if you fulfil all of the above criteria for exemption from self-isolation. You must notify the administration team on your arrival and bring proof of vaccination and PCR status

Attending the exam if potentially infected / exposed (or supplying deliberately falsified answers) jeopardises the safety of others and may result in referral to the GMC / medical regulatory body.

Permission to participate in relation to health concerns will be at the absolute discretion of the Examination Centre acting on behalf of MRCP(UK).

COVID PACES – 9 examiner protocol

Pre-COVID-19, the Clinical Examining Board of MRCP UK had agreed that the PACES carousel could proceed with 9 examiners in the event of a late unforeseen call off from an examiner(s). In this eventuality, it was recommended that a senior examiner double mark at either station 4 or station 2 rather than cancel the exam at short notice.

With the current very high prevalence of COVID-19 there is a heightened risk that examiners may need to call off at short notice due to a covid related issue including the need to self-isolate as a consequence of being a close contact usually within a household. Rather than cancel the exam, the PACES restart group has agreed that an exam centre can run with only 9 examiners. Every effort will be made to find a 10th examiner but if this is unsuccessful then an experienced examiner will double mark at one of the stations.

A protocol has been developed whereby the examining team will aim to have the single examiner double mark one of the remote stations (station 2 or station 4) but on occasion the single examiner will be in the mini carousel involving stations 1,3 and 5. If this is the case, the single examiner will double mark station 1 (respiratory and abdominal). A single examiner will not be placed at station 3 or station 5.

Candidates will be advised by the Host or Chair before the exam if there are only 9 examiners and at which station the single examiner will be double marking. Candidates will be permitted to withdraw at this stage with a full refund and guaranteed place in the subsequent diet, but if they choose to proceed, they cannot subsequently appeal on the basis that there were only 9 examiners.

The exam will be cancelled if only 8 examiners are available and all affected candidates will be fully refunded and guaranteed a place in the subsequent diet.

International PACES

We continue to make every effort to increase international examinations and reductions in travel restrictions have made this easier. It is expected that PACES will run with the normal 5 station format in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Malta. Discussions are ongoing concerning possible restarts of PACES in Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Most exam places in the 2021.3 diet will be offered to candidates who had been offered a PACES place before cancellations due to COVID-19.

Contact and Feedback

For UK PACES queries, UK based candidates should contact their college of entry at (Edinburgh), (London) or (Glasgow).

International PACES candidates can contact us at

We are always keen on feedback. If you have specific queries relating to your exam day please contact the exams office at your College of entry. For other general queries or (suggestions) to give us general feedback please email: