Guidance notes for candidates


MRCPsych written examinations

Important information - Please read prior to attending Examination


Candidates must bring official photo identification (ID) to the examination. This can include: passport and driver’s license only at all venues, except for the Chennai venue, where the Aadhar National ID card will also be accepted as ID. 

If you have any reasons why you cannot bring official photo ID to the examination please contact the Head of Examinations Operations once you have received notification of being entered to sit the examination. Failure to do so may result in you being refused entry into the examination centre.

All candidates are advised to arrive on time for the examination. Please ensure you allow adequate time for potential delays and travel disruptions.

Candidates who arrive late will not be allocated extra time. Candidates who arrive more than 30 minutes after the start of the examination will not be permitted to sit the examination.

Please leave large bags and coats in cloakrooms or an area in the examination room indicated by the invigilators. All mobile phones, pagers, bleepers and any electronic communication or storage devices must be switched off and kept in your bag in the designated area or placed in the plastic wallet provided and kept underneath the desk.

All mobile phones and any electronic communication or storage devices must not be kept in pockets and must not be placed on the desk during the examination as this may result in disqualification. Any candidate found with a mobile phone or any other electronic communication or storage device during examination conditions may be disqualified. Other valuables may be placed under your desk.

Candidates may bring a reasonable amount of water/soft drinks into the examination as these are not provided at any venue for candidates. However, Following complaints from candidates, the Examination Sub-Committee have ruled that no food will be allowed in the Examination Venue. This includes all chocolates, sweets, small snacks and fruit. Candidates that have special dietary requirements that require them to be able to eat during the Examination must inform the Examinations department well in advance of the Examination and must also provide medical proof of these requirements.

The examination

Paper A

This paper consists of 81 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 69 Extended Matching Items (EMIs) based upon 26 themes.

Time allowed for the paper is 3 hours.

Paper B

This paper consists of 98 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 52 Extended Matching Items (EMIs) based upon 24 themes.

Time allowed for the paper is 3 hours.

Please sit at the desk number allocated to you on your Admission Document and check that your question paper has your candidate number printed on it.

Answer sheets

Please do not fold, crease or make holes in the answer sheets.

Since the paper is marked by a computer, candidates MUST carry out the following instructions. Failure to do so will lead to the Answer Sheet being rejected by the computer.

Only the pencil, which is supplied, may be used for answering the paper. The computer will not accept a mark made by a fountain or ballpoint pen. It is important that the pencil leaves sufficient carbon within the lozenges. Bold technique is better than one mere faint sharp line.

Surname and initial: On the Answer Sheet (see sample provided), each candidate must fill in their surname and initials in the appropriate boxes at the top of the sheet.

Candidate number: In the five squares on the right hand side of the Answer Sheet, each candidate must fill in their candidate number using all five squares. The candidate number should be prefixed by ‘0’ where necessary, e.g. 09999. Then, each candidate must fill in the lozenges corresponding to these five digits.

Examination paper: Candidates should indicate within the lozenges on their Answer Sheet the paper they are sitting.

The Answer Sheets are double sided. All questions in section A should be answered on the ‘A’ side. All questions in section B should be answered on the ‘B’ side of the question paper. An example of the Answer Sheet is provided on the College website.

Candidates are responsible for ensuring that they have filled in the correct side of the Answer Sheet for the questions they are attempting. No changes will be made after the examination.

Candidates should attempt all questions. Marks will not be deducted for incorrect answers.

Multiple choice questions (MCQs)

The Multiple Choice Questions are the best answer 1 of 5 style. There are no single true/false multiple choice questions in the written papers. The correct answer to each question can be found in the list of options. The options are listed in alphabetical order. For each lozenge correctly completed one mark will be gained (i.e. +1) and for each lozenge incorrectly completed no marks will be gained or lost (i.e. 0).

Extended matching item questions (EMIs):

These Extended Matching Items (EMIs) are organised into sets related to a particular theme. Some questions require you to select a single correct answer; others require you to select more than one correct answer.

The correct answer, or answers, to each question can be found in the list of options for each theme. The options are listed in alphabetical order. The number of possible correct answers is specified for each question. Zero marks will be awarded if more responses than the specified maximum number of correct answers are given, e.g. if you give 4 answers to a question specifying a maximum of 3 correct answers, you will receive zero marks irrespective of whether any of your answers are correct. Marks will not be deducted for incorrect answers within the limit of correct answers permitted for each question.

  • Each option can be used once, more than once, or not at all.
  • You should fill in the answer(s) you believe to be correct with a lozenge.


Candidates may cancel their answer by erasing them with the soft pencil rubber provided and then completing another lozenge. Erasures should be left clean, with no smudges where possible. The computer will accept the darkest response for each item.

End of examination

Candidates must stop writing when told to do so at the end of the examination.

Any candidate who refuses to stop writing or fails to hand in the question booklet and Answer Sheet will be deemed to have failed the Examination.

At the end of the examination, the question book and the Answer Sheets must be handed to the Invigilator. On no account should question books and/or the Answer Sheets be removed from the Examination room.

Withdrawal during an examination

Candidates who attend the examination centre and are, or become, unwell on the day of the examination should speak to the chief invigilator. If the candidate wishes to continue the examination the Examination Sub-Committee will not normally make allowances for adverse performance levels due to illness. Candidates should be aware that if they decide to continue under such circumstances their attempt will stand whatever the result. 

Disciplinary policy

The College takes reported breaches very seriously in the regulations for the MRCPsych Examinations. Reported breaches in the Regulations are investigated and, if found to be valid, disciplinary action can be taken.

In order for the Examinations Sub-Committee to take action on a reported breach in the examination regulations, the report must be received from a source that is identifiable and can be verified as reliable. Anonymous reports cannot be actioned.

A breach in the examination regulations will be considered to have occurred when a candidate seeks to obtain, for themselves or for any other, entry to the examination by misrepresentation, or unfair advantage in the examination, or a higher mark than they would otherwise obtain, or when a candidate acts in any other way considered contrary to the examination regulations. Such acts will be referred to the Dean and the Examinations Sub-Committee and will be treated as a disciplinary offence.

Breaches in the examination regulations subject to disciplinary action

a. Eligibility misrepresentation

When false information is knowingly presented about training, experience or qualifications or other factors on which the candidate’s eligibility for entry to the examination is based.

b. Cheating


  • A candidate, acting singly or in collusion with others, copies the examination script of another or allows copying from their own script;
  • A candidate introduces to the examination any unauthorised material or communication or storage device e.g. mobile phone, pager;
  • A candidate impersonates another examination candidate or has someone impersonate them.

c. Gaining unfair advantage for themselves or providing an advantage to others


  • A candidate seeks to gain extra time in the examination by reading examination materials before being instructed to do so;
  • A candidate fails to stop writing in the examination after being told to do so;
  • A candidate seeks to influence the decision of the examiners through inappropriate contact or communication with examiners, invigilators, Examinations department staff or any other officials associated with the examination, or the award or notification of results either before, during or after the examinations;
  • A candidate communicates with another candidate.

Disciplinary action in response to a breach in the examination regulations

Where a breach in the regulations is held to have occurred this may be addressed, as appropriate to the nature of the breach, by one or a combination of:

  • A warning letter regarding future examination conduct sent to the candidate(s) and held on their examination record for a specified period
  • Disqualification from the sitting of the examination at which the breach occurred
  • Disqualification from the sitting at which the breach occurred plus barring from a specified number of future sittings of the examination
  • Notification of act to the candidate(s) Educational Supervisor, Deanery or Trust as appropriate

In the event of a candidate repeatedly breaching an examination regulation or regulations, the Dean and the Examinations Sub-Committee may consider it appropriate to report this to the candidate’s Deanery and, irrespective of the nature of the breach/breaches which have taken place, in discussion with the Deanery the matter may be considered for referral to the General Medical Council.

Classification of diseases

Candidates are expected to know the principles of classification, to have a working knowledge of ICD-10 and DSM-5. These guidance notes form part of the Eligibility Criteria & Regulations for MRCPsych Examinations.

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