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Exams 2021 Q&A

Your questions and our answers from the RCEM Twitter Q&A held on 2 March 2021.

+ Can RCEM have MRCEM OSCE exam centres in middle East countries eg Saudi Arabia and UAE?

Exam centres are continually under review and plans for new centres
have been impacted by COVID. We hope to add centres in Oman
and Malaysia when circumstances allow.

+ We have strict travel regulations in my country, can the MRCEM OSCE be delivered totally online?

No. This examination is specifically designed to assess competence in a range of practical skills in a face-to-face setting which we can’t replicate online. We are working on a hybrid model that is less threatened by COVID for June 2021.

+ Can we apply for the CESR after Aug 2021 with just SAQ and OSCE exam done?

Candidates holding passes in FRCEM Final OSCE and SAQ will be awarded FRCEM in September 2021. A CESR application will still need Research and QI evidence.

+ How much experience is needed for the MRCEM OSCE after August 2021?

From August 2021, MRCEM OSCE eligibility will require 24 months experience post FY1, which must include 6 months in EM.

+ When can I see some examples of the new format for the new SBA exams?

Sample questions are now available on the College website for the MRCEM and FRCEM SBA examinations.

+ I'm an ST1, will the exam format stay the same through my training?

There are no plans for any future changes, but it is a possibility that the exam formats will be developed if necessary.

+ How are RCEM dealing with the backlog of candidates?

There is no backlog for written exams or FRCEM OSCE. For MRCEM OSCE we are reviewing plans to increase capacity to ensure we can accommodate as many candidates as possible throughout 2021/22.

+ For trainees who will stay on the 2015 curriculum, what happens if they don’t submit for FRCEM QIP? Will they get awarded FRCEM after the last QIP deadline?

Without FRCEM QIP, trainees staying on the 2015 curriculum will need to complete 2021 portfolio evidence for QIP in order to CCT. Candidates
holding FRCEM Final SAQ and OSCE will be awarded FRCEM in September 2021.

+ For a candidate with full MRCEM, what is the pathway to getting full FRCEM?

From August 2021, candidates with MRCEM after August 2012, meeting all eligibility criteria, can apply for FRCEM SBA and OSCE to gain FRCEM.

+ I’m Sudanese and I live in KSA, should I register for my exam with Pearson VUE with my passport or my Iqama ID?

We would recommend using your Iqama ID, but your Sudanese passport will be accepted in a Pearson Test Centre. Sudanese passports will NOT be accepted online/OnVUE.

+ For those of us who have passed the FRCEM critical appraisal exam but will not get FRCEM before August 2021, is there any value in this exam now it is redundant?

Yes. A pass in FRCEM Critical Appraisal will count towards the portfolio requirements for SLO10 (research). Other evidence for SLO10 can include eLearning modules, journal club presentations, work towards a higher degree and peer reviewed papers.

+ When applying for the FRCEM SBA exam for September, will you automatically be given a date for the November OSCE? Do the exams come as a pair? Would there be an option to defer the OSCE date until 2022?

No. Candidates apply for each component separately. Candidates must pass the FRCEM SBA/SAQ and FRCEM OSCE within 7 years of each other.

+ Why has it been difficult to hold the exams in London? Even PLAB 2 continues to hold face to face exams with people travelling from around the world to attend.  

We considered many factors including planned travel restrictions being implemented by the UK government, number of candidates that had already requested to cancel their exam booking and the availability of examiners at a time when the NHS was under extreme pressure with many colleagues working surge rotas and unable to confirm leave to
attend the exam.

+ Will there be need of FRCEM Intermediate SJP exam in future for those IMG who have already cleared MRCEM OSCE?

From August 2021, any candidates who have achieved MRCEM after August 2012 (and meet the other eligibility criteria) will be eligible for FRCEM Final examinations.

+ Why RCEM change the style of exams regularly, compared to other specialties?

When reviewing the curriculum to meet the updated GMC standards, we felt it appropriate to review the whole programme of assessment, not just WBA in isolation, to ensure all exams were fit for purpose and reducing the examination burden where possible.

+ Do you recommend any alternatives for Critical appraisal exams if run out of attempts and have to apply for specialist registration?

Check out the 2021 curriculum for SLO10 (research) for more information on this.

Other Questions & Answers

+ Am I eligible to sit the FRCEM Primary?

Providing you hold a medical qualification approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) for the purposes of registration.

Candidates registered with the Irish Medical Council (IMC) or an international medical council are required to upload a copy of their current medical registration document (in English) at the time of application.

+ Am I eligible for FRCEM Intermediate SAQ?

Providing you hold a medical qualification approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) for the purposes of registration.
Candidates would need to of completed the UK foundation programme or equivalent. Evidence would need to be uploaded to your application when applying.
Candidates are eligible if they have the above and one of the following:

  1. MRCEM Part A examination after 1 August 2012 and prior to 31 July 2016.
  2. FRCEM Primary examination after 1 August 2016
  3. For DRE-EM trainees only: Been granted exemption from the FRCEM Primary or MRCEM Part A as a result of obtaining MRCS or MRCSI after 1 January 2012.

For more information about Defined Route of Entry into Emergency Medicine (DRE-EM) Please see All UK Training Programmes.

+ Am I eligible for MRCEM OSCE?

Providing you hold a medical qualification approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) for the purposes of registration.

Candidates would need to of completed the UK foundation programme or equivalent. Evidence would need to be uploaded to your application when applying.

Candidates are eligible if they have the above and passed either the following:

  1. Has passed the FRCEM Primary examination after 1 August 2016 or
  2. Has passed the MRCEM Part A examination after 1 August 2012 and prior to 31 July 2016

Candidates would also need to have passed one of the following:

  1. FRCEM Intermediate SAQ after 1 August 2016 or
  2. MRCEM Part B examination after 1 August 2012 and prior to 31 July 2016

Applicants must have 36 months experience including 6 months experience in Emergency Medicine at a level above Foundation Year 1 (post full registration).

+ Do I have to take the FRCEM Intermediate SJP?

Candidates who have not been awarded MRCEM prior to August 2018 are still able to sit the required examinations in order to be awarded MRCEM but should be aware that they will be required to pass the FRCEM Intermediate SJP should they wish to sit the FRCEM Final Examinations at a future date.

+ Am I eligible for the FRCEM Final?

Candidates who have completed MRCEM are eligible to sit FRCEM Final exams. Candidates who have also completed FRCEM Primary, FRCEM Intermediate SAQ and Intermediate SJP can go on to the FRCEM final exams.

+ Where can I sit RCEM examinations?

*updated February 2021*
As of 2020, all written examinations are delivered with Pearson VUE and can be sat in any Pearson VUE test centre or remotely via OnVUE. Please see to find your nearest test centre.

  • FRCEM Primary-Pearson VUE
  • FRCEM Intermediate SAQ – Pearson VUE
  • FRCEM intermediate SJP – Pearson VUE
  • MRCEM OSCE – London and centres in India
  • FRCEM Final SAQ/CA -Pearson VUE
  • FRCEM OSCE – London
  • FRCEM Final QIP – Online submission
+ When can I apply to sit an examination?

You can apply to sit an exam on our website. You can only apply to sit a specific exam when the window for the exam is open. The deadline for each exam would be 5pm (GMT) on the deadline day. Applications received after this will not be accepted. You can apply here.

+ When will I find out my examination results?

The results for each component of exams will be published on a pre-advised day approximately four weeks after the date of the examination. For the current results dates please see our exams calendar on our dates and fees section.

+ When will I receive feedback for my exam result?

Feedback will be emailed to candidates within four weeks of the publication of results. Examination results will not be issued or confirmed by telephone or email.

+ I didn’t receive feedback but all my friends did?

If you didn’t receive your feedback, then you should contact us, and we will resend it by email. You would need to provide us with your full name, the exam you sat, date of exam and candidate number if you have it.

+ If I withdraw from an exam will I get a refund?

If you withdraw from an examination before the closing date, for any reason, you will get a full refund.

+ Can I transfer my fee instead of getting a refund?

You can transfer your exam within the exam window to the next exam date.

If it is for QIP and you contact us within the window, you will get a full refund as we don’t transfer QIP submissions anymore. You would need to apply again in the next window.

+ I’m an international candidate and my visa hasn’t been issued yet or has been declined

If your visa has been declined you should send documentary evidence of this to the Exams Office.

I(f your visa is delayed, you will need to provide documentary evidence to demonstrate that you applied for your visa in good time before the examination. Your application will be considered by a Manager and if approved a full refund will be issued.

+ The exam closing date has passed but I now need to withdraw, can I get a refund?

In exceptional circumstances, for matters beyond your control, you can request to have your fee transferred or refunded. You will need to supply documentary evidence e.g. a medical certificate if you or a direct family member are unwell.

A lack of preparation is not a sufficient reason to transfer an examination entry.

+ If I don’t attend an exam, will it be counted as an attempt?

No, an attempt is only counted if you attend the examination.  If you are absent you will be recorded as such.

+ How many times can I attempt an exam?

Attempts at all components are limited as follows:

  • FRCEM Primary – six attempts
  • FRCEM Intermediate SAQ – six attempts
  • FRCEM Intermediate SJP – six attempts
  • FRCEM Final Critical Appraisal – four attempts
  • FRCEM Final SAQ – four attempts
  • FRCEM Final QIP – four attempts
  • FRCEM Final OSCE – four attempts
+ Do I get a formal certificate for passing the Intermediate exams?

No, certificates are only issued for achievement of Membership or Fellowship of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

+ Are my exam fees tax deductible?

Doctors in in the UK training programme should refer to the advice provided by the Emergency Medicine Trainees’ Association (EMTA) “claiming back the costs of training” which is available on the EMTA website.

+ Are there any qualifications which exempt me from the FRCEM Primary examination?

Exemption from the Primary is only an option for trainees on the DREEM training scheme in the UK, please refer to the Primary regulation pack for further information.

+ What should I wear to my OSCE examination?

Candidates can wear scrubs or smart professional attire.

Questions About College Exams with Pearson VUE

+ What equipment will I need to be able to sit the exam? What if I don’t have it?

Candidates need a computer with a webcam, microphone and a stable internet connection (2Mbps speed). If you do not have or cannot borrow this equipment you will be unable to take any online exam. Candidates who are unable to take the examination online will be able to sit the examination in a Pearson Vue test centre.

+ Why do I still have to pay the same for my exam if I am now sitting it from home?

There is a significant cost attached to setting up and delivering examinations online, as well as the costs the College has already incurred for the cancelled Spring FRCEM Final written examinations.

+ I am worried that if the exams are online people will be able to cheat and it won’t be a fair exam - how will you stop people cheating if they are sitting the exam in their own home?

The remote invigilation the College will use is much more focused than in an examination hall setting. Candidates have to satisfy a remote room check before they can start the examination and their behaviour during the examination is monitored live as well as being recorded. Any concerning behaviour is recorded and will be investigated in accordance with the College’s Misconduct Policy. The examination application locks down the candidate’s computer so they cannot navigate away from the exam screen.

+ Can I choose not to sit the exam online?

All written examinations will be delivered electronically, either online through remote invigilation or in a Pearson Vue test centre.

What happens if the internet connection cuts out during my exam?
The system uses a low bandwidth so connection losses are rare, often if the connection dips out there is no interruption to the exam. If the connection cuts out entirely and you’re unable to communicate with your invigilator through the online chat, the invigilator will call you (you provide your mobile number at the point of registration) to talk you through getting back on line. If you do get disconnected, your exam clock stops so you do not lose any exam time. Everything is saved ‘live’ so no work will be lost.

+ My kids are at home and we live in a small flat, do I have to sit the exam at home?

No, candidates can sit in any location as long as it is a private room with a stable internet connection. Alternatively, candidates can sit in a Pearson Vue test centre.

+ I usually have reasonable adjustments for exam sittings, how will these be factored into a new online format?

All reasonable adjustments will be individually considered as normal and reviewed in light of the different delivery format and agreed accordingly. Generally, candidates requiring adjustments will need to sit their examination at a test centre as the adjustments that can be provided with OnVUE are limited.

+ I have special requirements for an online exam, how will these be taken into account?

Candidates requiring adjustments need to contact the Examinations Department so that this can be considered.

+ I am very slow at typing and worried about sitting a SAQ online - can I be given extra time? **updated 20 May 2020**

The SAQ examinations ask for short answers and candidates should not have an issue. As with hand-written examinations, candidates will not be penalised for poor spelling, and typing removes legibility issues associated with handwriting. Any candidate requiring adjustments for a computer-based exam (i.e. extra time) will need to seek an educational psychologist assessment and then provide the report and recommendations for adjustments to the College.

+ Will I be able to use the bathroom during an online examination? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Candidates taking their examination OnVUE will not be permitted to take a comfort break for the duration of the examination as they cannot leave the room.

Candidates taking their examination at a test centre will be permitted to take a comfort break as there are staff at the test centre facilitate with this.

+ As the exam is online why can’t I choose the date of the exam myself?

To maintain the security of the examination, you are required to take the examination on the specified date.

+ What happens if I log in late to take the exam?

Being late is not an option. To allow time for the check-in procedure, please be ready when the check-in window opens 30 minutes before the exam start time.

+ If I do not attend, does this count as an attempt?

If you do not take your examination, this will not be counted as an attempt. Only those with exceptional circumstances will be offered a refund or transfer. Further information on refunds and transfers can be viewed on this page.

+ If I experience technical problems on the day, who should I contact?

Your exam proctor will help you with technical issues during the exam. If you have any other issues please contact Amy Spivey (Examinations Manager (Operational)) on 02070671277.

+ I am taking my exam OnVUE and have been informed I will be required to have my mobile in the exam room, what happens if my phone rings during the examination? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Candidates taking their examination OnVUE are permitted to have their mobile in the exam room. During the id checking process, a proctor may contact you on your mobile if there are technical issues. Once your ID check is complete, candidates are advised to put their mobile on the floor and not to check it during the examination. Candidates are required to click ‘start’ to start the examination, and any attempt to check you’re your mobile or answer a call will be treated as misconduct. In this instance the examination will be revoked and the allegation of misconduct will be investigated after by the college – in this instance you would be unable to complete your examination.

+ I have previously taken an OnVUE examination – do you have any advice to reduce the communication the proctor had with me? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Pearson Vue use both proctors and AI to highlight anything that may be seen as suspicious activity. To reduce any possible disturbance by the proctor we would advise:
Keep your mouth uncovered – whether you’re a nail biter or rest your hand on your chin / mouth area during thought, avoiding this will prevent the proctor having to make contact to request you uncover your mouth.
Avoid looking above your laptop/screen / floor – AI will pick this up as possible misconduct.
If you are taking your exam at home, and have other family members present, please notify them of the importance of not disturbing you. Any entry to the room by someone during your examination could lead to your exam being revoked.
Do not answer your mobile phone. If you answer your mobile once you have started your examination your exam will be revoked. Proctors will only call you during the registration process if you are encountering problems.

+ What information should I have with me if I need to contact the college regarding problems on the exam day? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Please have your college id number and a contact telephone number for you in case we have to phone you back.

+ I have noticed the name on my ID does not exactly match the name on Pearson Vue – will this be a problem? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Yes. Once candidate data has been uploaded to Pearson Vue, Candidates will be advised to check their name on Pearson Vue against the id being used on the day. Candidates who have a different name on their id will be required to change this by notifying the college. This can only be done after your details have been uploaded to Pearson Vue and the exams team will prompt candidates when to check this information. The exams team will also request candidates to check their date of birth to ensure this matches to the id on their id.

+ I live in a country where there are American sanctions – will I be permitted to take my examination online? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Due to USA political sanctions, Pearson Vue are unable to conduct either OnVUE or test centre examinations in the following countries:

Sudan, Syria, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Crimea region.

The restrictions also extend to candidates from the sanctioned countries wishing to take an examination with Pearson in a different country, i.e. candidates cannot enter a Pearson VUE test appointment with their passport from a sanctioned country. If a candidate has a valid photographic ID from the country in which they are testing, they will be permitted by Pearson to take their examination.

Candidates who do not have valid ID from the country in which they are testing in will be unable to sit their examination.

The restrictions in place do not represent the College values and are set by Pearson Vue, the College has no influence to change this.

+ If I fail one of the online exam sittings will it still count towards my maximum attempts? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Where a candidate’s first attempt at a new online format examination is taken between 1 July 2020 and 31 August 2021 and is unsuccessful, this will not be counted towards their total number of attempts at that specific examination. Please refer to examination regulations derogation published 12 June 2020.

+ What measures are in place to ensure I do not accidentally submit my online examination? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

Online examinations require candidates to verify they want to submit their examination prior to the exam being submitted.

+ Will I be given the opportunity to give my feedback to the College? ** NEW Question 26 November 2020**

After each exam, candidates will be given the opportunity to provide feedback via Survey monkey and this feedback will be used for continuous development with the exams team.

Which exams are changing in August 2021?

2021 examination changes are summarised below. Further information can be found at

I’m a trainee who will stay on the 2015 curriculum, what happens if I don’t pass FRCEM QIP?
Without FRCEM QIP, trainees staying on the 2015 curriculum will need to complete 2021 portfolio evidence for QIP in order to CCT. Candidates holding FRCEM Final SAQ and OSCE will be awarded FRCEM in September 2021.

I’m a trainee who will stay on the 2015 curriculum, what happens if I don’t pass FRCEM QIP?
Without FRCEM QIP, trainees staying on the 2015 curriculum will need to complete 2021 portfolio evidence for QIP in order to CCT. Candidates holding FRCEM Final SAQ and OSCE will be awarded FRCEM in September 2021.

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