The week of 18 September 2023 saw the College deliver its first face-to-face Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies (CASC) since January 2020.
The online CASC, introduced in September 2020, meant that the College was able to continue delivering the exam during the pandemic, but there was enthusiasm to return to the improved validity of a face-to-face exam.
Overall, 565 candidates were examined by 285 examiners over the five-day exam at the English Institute for Sport (EIS) in Sheffield. This was organised and delivered by the College’s Exams team with the support of the IT team and 34 invigilators. A total of 344 role-players performed the role of patients, carers and allied professionals in each station.
The College demonstrated its commitment to innovation whilst taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint by using iPads for examiners marking the candidates’ performance (rather than paper marksheets) saving nearly 10,000 sheets of paper. This was the first time the College had used iPad marking and thanks to the great collaboration with the IT team it worked seamlessly.
As part of the College’s continuing efforts to improve accessibility for neurodivergent candidates at exams, all candidates were invited to bring a sensory comfort aid to the CASC. Whilst the number of candidates bringing an aid to this exam were small, the approach was welcomed and it is anticipated that uptake will increase.
One of the benefits of the face-to-face exam is that it is not vulnerable to weak internet connections, meaning the timetable is controlled and examiners can see double the number of candidates each day. This increases the efficiency of the exam, which in turn reduces the number of examiner days required, minimising time away from clinical work.
Overall, the CASC ran very smoothly and stakeholder feedback on the organisation and delivery has been positive. An examiner summed up the examiner consensus with the following comment:
“It was so good to be back face to face, (…) I think the ability to examine was much improved from online.”
Professor Subodh Dave, the College Dean, thanked candidates, examiners and RCPsych staff for making the return of the CASC a success.