defines the competencies, professional behaviour and attitudes
which psychiatrists should acquire and demonstrate in their
Workplace-based assessments (WPBAs)
will take place throughout the 6 years of specialist training and
competencies will be rated according to the level of training.
Psychiatrists in training need to
register with the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Portfolio
Online and complete their mandatory WPBAs. The evidence
collected in the assessments will form part of the annual review of
competence progression (ARCP), at which educational supervisors and
College tutors review your training.
The College membership
examination (MRCPsych) comprises of two Written Papers: Papers
A, B and the Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies
(CASC). Each paper is 3-hours long and contains approximately 200
questions. Both question papers consist of multiple choice
questions (MCQs) and extended matching items (EMIs). The balance of
the two types of questions will vary but will be approximately
two-thirds MCQs and one third EMIs.
Following the written
papers there is a Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies
(CASC) examination. This is a 16-station examination, testing
candidates’ competency in clinical skills, appropriate to their
stage of training. The examination is split into two sets of eight
stations. One set comprises stations linked in pairs; the clinical
task in the first station will be linked to a related task in the
second station. The other set is made up of individual
Membership of the College is the accepted
qualification for entry into higher training in psychiatry.
The current syllabus can be found here
The current critical review syllabus can be
- MRCPsych Paper A -The Scientific and theoretical basis
Paper A will be three hours long,
containing 200 marks. The paper will comprise of approximately
two-thirds MCQs and one-third EMIs. More information can be
The question papers for the
Examinations are prepared by the Panels responsible for each paper.
All results are monitored and determined by the Examinations
Sub-Committee. Regular reports are presented to the Education
and Training Committee to ensure that standards are
maintained. The Head of Examinations is responsible for the overall
management and delivery of the Unit’s activities and manages the
Examinations team within the Royal College.
Further details regarding exams
regulations can be found on the
- Access books/training materials
- Study in a place that is quiet and comfortable
- Build on your existing knowledge base and
- Think about your personal learning style and
use this to plan effective revision
- Set aside a regular time to study
- Allow time for preparation and breaks from
- Keep a balance between work and personal
The following tips may
help you go through the assessments and examinations more
- Start preparing early in order to plan an
effective revision programme.
- Study the curriculum
- Plan when you are going to take the
- Seek advice from those who have already
passed the exam, especially those who have done so recently
- Create your own study programme
- Plan your application for study
leave/revision courses early
- Form a study group with others who are also
preparing for the exam
- Practise scenarios for the CASC with others
who have done the exam before
- Plan regular breaks away from the place you
are studying in your revision period
Study skills and techniques
require a significantly greater depth and breadth of knowledge than
undergraduate examinations. Passing the MRCPsych examination does
require learning large amounts of information.
It is important to
reinforce memory by revising and by practising recall. Clinical
scenarios are useful especially for the CASC- it can be helpful to
practise these with others and to observe others practicing in
order to obtain feedback.
Joining a study group may
help you reduce your workload of finding information and will
enable you to share experience and provide support to one another.
Study groups also aid reflection on progress.
It is important to
discuss learning and your progress with your educational
supervisor. If you lack experience or would benefit from more
training in a particular area, make sure these educational needs
Core competencies are the
basis of the new format for training so it is important to use
every opportunity to learn and practise clinical skills. Practise a
variety of scenarios to prepare for the WPBAs.
- Find out what is required at your level of
- Try not to get downhearted if you do not
achieve high marks in the early stages of training, your marks
should improve during training
- Plan your WPBAs at the beginning of each post
and relate this to your learning objectives
- Keep a record of WPBAs
- Obtain feedback and take steps to improve
The core curriculum has
sections which must be covered. There are various ways of
approaching this – some trainees skim all sections and then return
to studying specific topics in depth, others methodically study
each section in turn before moving to the next.
Although the time frame
for training has been set, trainees will inevitably face setbacks
and sometimes fail to pass assessments or examinations on time.
This can create pressure and lead to stress and disruption of
- Speak with family and friends for
- Talk to your clinical and educational
- Develop coping strategies to deal with
- Stay healthy by looking after your body and
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Ensure that you apply to
take the examinations in plenty of time, as forms must be completed
and returned to the College. On the examination day, make sure that
you arrive at the examination venue in plenty of time.
If you are not successful
There may be various
reasons why you were not successful and it is important to find out
why it happened so you can address the issues. Feedback from the
College’s Professional Standards Department will be sent to
It is also advisable to
seek advice from your College tutor and your educational
supervisor. Listen carefully to their suggestions and make notes so
that you can look over them later. If you have failed a particular
part of the examination, ensure that this area is an identified
learning need. While you focus on this area, continue to revise the
other sections of the curriculum, with a range of consultants. This
should help you to regain your confidence. Changes may be needed in
your knowledge base, skills or attitude and you may need to widen
your clinical experience.
For further support
please see our resource
The information should be used as a guide
only and is not a substitute for professional advice. For further
information on the MRCPsych examinations and the core competencies,
see the College
If you need further advice and support,
please contact the Psychiatrists’ Support
© Royal College of Psychiatrists 2016
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If you require advice and support about a particular issue then please contact the
Psychiatrists' Support Service at the Royal College of Psychiatrists on 0207 245
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