Intercollegiate Specialty Examination Board Meeting – 1th December 2017

Intercollegiate Specialty Examination Board Meeting Report

1 December 2017

I attended the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination in Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery Board Meeting on the 1st of December 2017. The following matters were discussed which I would like to bring to the attention of BOTA members.


International FRCS Exam

In regards to UK trainees, if one were to attempt the international exam, it would count as one of four total attempts. If one were to pass, the International FRCS has not yet been tested as evidence for award of a CCT or in a UK court of law. It would be prudent to stick to the UK diet of exams.


The new Curriculum and NICE, BOA, SIGN, etc Guidelines

The implications of the new Curriculum that will be introduced from August 2018 to the FRCS exam are minimal but are likely to be as follows:

  1. questions on the acute general medical management of patients.

  2. increasing the number of spine questions/cases in both Sections 1 and 2.

  3. direct questions on Guidelines from any of the four nations (which are part of the new Curriculum) from Autumn 2019.


Section 2 waiting lists, Examiner number and diversity

Section 2 waiting lists are not due to a shortage of examiners. Reassuringly, all candidates since 2015 who have been on a waiting list have been found a place on their preferred exam sitting.

The amount of time a trainee waits on the waiting list will be directly related to how long those that defer their exam date delay notification to the Secretariat.

A proposal will be made to the JCIE to change the cut-off for forfeit of the full exam fee in the case of deference from 20 working days (four weeks) to six to eight weeks to be in-line with study leave notice  guidelines at most Trusts.

There is equality and diversity training during the examiners’ meeting the day prior to the FRCS T&O clinical exam.

As far as the make up of the examiner panel is concerned, examiners can only be drawn from those who apply. No examiner application that fulfilled the criteria have been declined during the last 3 years.  Since examiners are a minimum of 5 years post-appointment, the examiner body reflects the make up of the candidates 5-10 years prior. This means there is an increasing number of female and minority examiners.

As trainees we can encourage good trainers (regardless of race and gender) to apply to be FRCS examiners.



Recently there was an instance of collusion between candidates. Candidates sharing information about cases and questions with a colleague who has not taken those stations yet is collusion. It is cheating. Collusion can be suspected based on the manner in which a candidate answers a question or comes to a diagnosis. This practice, even when unproven, usually leads to lower marks. Collusion is a probity issue and when proven, will result in referral to the GMC. In the future, collusion and its consequences will be specifically mentioned in the pre-exam candidate briefing.


Candidate Feedback

It was reassuring to see that the candidate feedback, especially the written feedback is looked at individually. As a direct result of recent feedback the following will take place:

  1. Training videos on the logistics and practicalities of both sections of the exam will be made available on the JCIE website

  2. Examiner Assessors will continue to monitor and feedback on examiner performance at Section 2. Interestingly, “aggressive” examiners are quite often “fairer” markers.

  3. For Section 2, special emphasis will be made at secretariat and host briefings to consider geographical and other practicalities

  4. Extra time will be suggested for examiners to familiarise themselves with clinical cases to improve standard setting for the Clinical component of Section 2.



I would like to stress a couple of practical points around the exam:

  1. Don’t forget that you need to have obtained an Outcome 1 on your ST6 ARCP to be considered for the exam. There is a checklist that should be printed well in advance to ensure you can satisfy all the criteria to progress and this can be uploaded onto ISCP in advance of your ARCP.

  2. Read the e-mails you are sent in regards to the exam, particularly the one(s) from the Pearson Vue Centre where your Section 1 will be held and those from Eleanor Lynes from the JCIE who will send information about Section 2. Full understanding of these e-mails will prevent avoidable mistakes.

  3. If you find yourself on a waiting list for your preferred Section 2 date, keep studying as if you were going to be sitting it (chances are that you will).

  4. If you are going to defer, let the JCIE know as soon as possible for the sake of those on the waiting list.

  5. The feedback given seems to change things, so please fill this out (although it may be the last thing you want to do at that time).