The FRCS (Tr & Orth) Exam – how to apply and FAQs
Written by Mr. Lawrence Moulton FRCS, BOTA SAC Representative and Mr. Martin Owen at JCIE
BOTA have frequently been contacted about the FRCS exam by members recently and there have been several themes emerging. Hopefully, the following will help with this.
Registering for Part 1 of the exam
You need to apply for the exam via the JCIE website (www.jcie.org.uk). Here, you will find the guidance notes and the dates for all future sittings. To apply you will need:
- Passed ST6 with and ARCP outcome 1 with documented evidence of this.
- A reference from your TPD using the form available on the website (your TPD confirms your ARCP outcome)
- 2 references from trainers who have supervised you within the last 2 years using the form available on the website.
Here is the Application page: https://www.jcie.org.uk/content/content.aspx?ID=22
You pay for the whole exam at the time of application (£1849) rather than individual sections of the exam. Part 1 is delivered through Computer Based Testing and you choose your preferred test centre when you apply. Finally, you are given the opportunity to preference which sitting of Part 2 you would like to do should pass part 1.
As detailed in the Guidance Notes for Applicants it should be noted that places in Section 2 may be restricted and entry will be granted strictly in order of date of receipt of current application for Section 1.
This is detailed in the guidance in section 5.
Applying for Part 2 of the exam
Candidates are automatically entered into Part 2 following a successful result in Part 1.
The number of spaces at each exam is determined by the size of the exam clinical and oral venues and the number of examiners available. T&O has the largest exam of any specialty and every slot is offered and filled at every exam sitting. This means that if a diet is oversubscribed then there is a waiting list system operated. Therefore, if a candidate subsequently drops out of the exam then you may be offered a place at a later date but you do not have to take this place.
If you are placed on the waiting list, then it is a personal decision whether you should prepare as if you will sit it anyway or not. Martin Owen (Specialty Manager at JCIE) is happy for candidates in this situation to call him and ask where they are on the waiting list. This will help you assess your likelihood of getting a place. My personal advice is that if you are hoping to get a place closer to the date of the exam then you need to be preparing as if you are sitting it rather wait and then cram last minute.
What you can do to increase your success rate for application?
- Read and understand the application guidelines on the JCIE website.
- Ensure that you complete the required paperwork early as this will delay any application until it is correctly completed.
- Apply early in the application window to give yourself the best chance of being allocated a place in your preferred Section 2 diet.
- Encourage good trainers in your region to become examiners. I have written a guide detailing the requirements and application process so that you can provide information to these people.
What is BOTA doing to help you?
BOTA are continuing to work with the ISB to try to increase the number of spaces available at each exam by encouraging new examiner applications. We will also try to provide as much information to help you apply in a timely manner.
If you want to encourage a trainer to become an examiner I have prepared a guide for them below.
How to become an examiner for the FRCS(Tr & Orth)
If you want to become an examiner or a trainee has encouraged you to apply, then read on.
Appointments are for a period of 5 years commencing from the date of their first examination. Examiners who complete 5 years on the Panel may be invited, at the discretion of the Board, to continue for a further and final period of up to 5 years. This is dependent upon them re-attending an examiner induction/update training course. There are three exam diets per year, usually running from Saturday evening to Tuesday afternoon. Examiners would also be expected to contribute to the standard setting for Section 1 and the Section 2 oral question writing days.
Adverts for examiners are usually placed in relevant journals and publications.
The full Criteria for Appointment and application form are available here: https://www.jcie.org.uk/content/content.aspx?ID=23 However, the following points should be noted:
- Must be a Fellow of one of the four Royal Surgical Colleges of Great Britain and Ireland and in good standing with the College
- Hold a substantive (min 5 years) Consultant post (min 5 PAs) in the National Health Service/Public Health Service (Ireland)
- Be in ‘good standing’ with the GMC. For our purposes, ‘not in good standing’ and ‘under investigation’ refers to either an interim order being issued and/or conditions or restrictions having been placed on practice by the GMC or employer and/or suspension from the workplace.
- Be prepared to relinquish any involvement or participation in crammer examination revision courses. This rule does not preclude examiners from lecturing at courses or teaching their own trainees as part of their normal training commitment as examiners would not examine their own trainees in the examination.