Exams news and updates

This page collects together important news and updates in relation to examinations.

The MRCPsych examination regulations have been updated for 2023, providing more information on reasonable adjustments and removing written paper transition details that are no longer relevant.
The new CASC syllabus is mapped to the 2022 core psychiatry curriculum, providing more detail on the skills being assessed as well as added emphasis on personalisation of care and the interaction between mental and physical health.

In response to candidate feedback we have made some adjustments to the application periods for Diet 2 of Papers A and B. 

The application period for Paper B Diet 2 (June 2023) has been moved to 11 - 24 April 2023.

The application period for Paper A Diet 2 (July 2023) has been extended to 15 May 2023.

View our exam dates.

In our announcement about the oversubscription of the January CASC we advised that we would be running a special diet in May 2023 to accommodate those candidates who did not get a place. All places available at this diet have been allocated to those who did not get a place in January and we are unable to open this diet to additional candidates.

The next diet of the CASC will take place on 18 - 22 September 2023 in Sheffield, UK.

Following an extensive review of our assessment strategy, the College is announcing changes to the delivery of the CASC examination.  Subject to final GMC approval, from September 2023 the CASC will be delivered face-to-face in the UK, with international centres for face-to-face delivery being introduced in 2024.

Face-to-face delivery provides increased capacity and will enable candidates to better demonstrate that they meet the key capabilities outlined in the 2022 curriculum.

The review also approved a CASC syllabus that will be published soon, and which explicitly maps to the 2022 curriculum.  It includes a new emphasis on personalisation of consultations and interventions, as well as the interaction between mental health and physical health.

The College has undertaken an extensive review of its assessment strategy to evaluate the best delivery method for the CASC, align the new curricula to College assessments and review the current WpBA (formative) assessment system. The review recommendations have now received approval from the College’s Board of Trustees, including:

  • From September 2023, moving to a face-to-face delivery model for CASC (subject to final GMC approval)
  • Continuing the delivery of written exams, Papers A and B, via Pearson VUE test centres
  • Creation of a new Assessment Oversight Committee to have strategic oversight of educational assessments, and report to the Education and Training Committee (ETC)
  • Creation of a formative assessment working group to create a recommendations report by the end of 2023.

The Assessment Strategy Review (ASR) was implemented following Council’s approval in July 2021 after the successful migration of the College’s examinations online in 2020.  The ASR was led by Professor Subodh Dave, Dean; Dr Ian Hall, Chief Examiner; and Dr John Russell, Associate Dean for Curricula. The ASR group membership included representatives for trainees, patients and carers, trainers, examiners and an educationalist.

The review carried out extensive stakeholder consultation including focus groups with trainees in core and specialty training, supervisors in core and specialty training, examiners, CASC panel and ETC members, patient and carer representatives, and Medical Directors representing employers.

The Assessment Strategy Review and Recommendations report is now available to download.

Where in the UK will the CASC be held?

The September 2023 CASC will be held in Sheffield.

Where will the international CASC centres be held?

We are assessing where the CASC should be held, with consideration to where our candidates and members/potential examiners are based, as well as travel and local infrastructure.

I’m an overseas candidate, I have passed both written papers and this change will delay when I can sit the CASC, will my validity period be extended?

Yes. Validity periods will be extended according to individual circumstances and candidates concerned about this should write to examinations@rcpsych.ac.uk in the first instance.

I have a disability and need reasonable adjustments for my exams, how will you support me at a face-to-face exam?

We have extensive experience of supporting candidates with access arrangements for their face-to-face exams and we will continue to support candidates by agreeing adjustments on an individual basis that are recommended by an appropriate professional assessment. For example, we can set up a separate space for candidates with mobility difficulties that minimises movement between stations, provide extra time or a space with lower noise levels. 

Why is the College moving to face-to-face delivery?

We had to balance many factors in making this decision, but it was clear from our consultation with stakeholders that the validity and reliability of the examination was of prime importance.  It was also clear that face-to-face assessment is the optimal way to assess the clinical skills required for psychiatric practice.

Will the face-to-face exam be easier or more difficult than the online version?

The standard required to pass the examination remains the same.

When will the new syllabus be available?

The new syllabus will be published on the website once final GMC approval has been received.

Will the College be offering any further online CASC diets?

Not after August 2023

Why won’t the College be offering online CASC diets after face-to-face delivery is introduced?

Firstly we have concluded that face-to-face assessment is the optimal way to assess the clinical skills required for psychiatric practice.  Furthermore, GMC approval is central to the MRCPsych, the 2023 face-to-face CASC cannot be delivered in exactly the same way online, so it is not possible to have GMC approval for both delivery methods.

The College has received an unprecedented number of applications for the January 2023 diet of the CASC (a 61% increase on January 2022).  Despite a significant increase to CASC capacity in the last two years, including the recruitment of 170 new examiners, we regret that we have not been able to meet demand, and have heard from many examiners that they are unable to examine due to workforce pressures.

The College recognises the extreme pressures our workforce is under, and this was the primary driver for the way places have been allocated for the January 2023 CASC. In consultation with College Officers and the Psychiatry Trainees’ Committee, we prioritised, first, applicants that did not receive a place at the September 2022 CASC diet, then all applicants that applied for ST4 national recruitment for August 2023 entry. The remaining places were allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The College will be running an additional CASC in May 2023 and candidates not allocated for January 2023 will have first priority for this diet. The date of the exam, and application window, will be confirmed shortly and unallocated January 2023 applicants will be notified by email.

The Assessment Strategy Review has made recommendations to the College Council and Board of Trustees on a strategy that will significantly increase CASC capacity from September 2023, subject to their approval. 

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