Why we had to cancel the Part 1 examination in physical centres in the UK

8 Jan 2021

We had previously stated, following the recent lockdown restrictions across the UK, that we were aiming to go ahead with the Part 1 examination in Scotland.

Unfortunately, however it quickly became apparent that a number of indirect results of these restrictions meant that it would become extremely difficult to run our physical centres and that we would see a significant number of short notice cancellations with limited ability to influence this.

The Federation of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK in making the decision considered a number of challenges we faced, including:

  1. Serious concerns being expressed by our 3rd party centre providers, many of whom are in the hospitality sector and were closing,  
  2. Concerns about the new variant of the virus and its increased transmissibility, coupled with uncertainty about whether our current social distancing and infection control measures would prevent virus transmission at some of our centres
  3. A number of invigilators dropping out because of concerns around attending in the present circumstances, and challenges arranging new invigilators at short notice.
  4. Some candidates expressing concerns about running given the prevalence of the virus in the community, and information reaching us from Scotland that a significant number of candidates would find the travel involved difficult.

In light of these and other considerations, the difficult decision was taken by the three UK Royal Colleges of Physicians to cancel the exam in written centres in all four UK nations, including Scotland. Having investigated and carefully assessed the impact of the latest restrictions and what this would mean on the day, not only for candidates but also invigilators and administrators who support the running of the exam, we concluded that the disruption would make the running of our exams in all of our UK centres unfeasible.  

We know that this will be frustrating and disruptive for our candidates, and all those affected will be entered into the contingency exam that we have already set up and due to run on 30 March, entirely online.