Preparing for exams

This section will help you learn more about what you need to do to prepare for each exam.

For many trainees, the MRCPsych exams can be daunting and anxiety-provoking. ‘‘Passing the MRCPsych Exams – an insider’s Guide’’ aims to help! The guide is written by members of the Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee (PTC).

A College resource also available is Trainees Online (TrOn) which is an online learning resource to support trainee psychiatrists in preparing for MRCPsych exams. Any queries regarding TrOn please contact tron@rcpsych.ac.uk

MRCPsych Paper A is a written paper on the scientific and theoretical basis of Psychiatry.

How long is the exam and what are the questions?

Paper A is a three hour exam worth 150 marks, comprised of 150 questions.

It is made up of approximately:

  1. two-thirds multiple choice questions (MCQ) and
  2. one-third extended matching item questions (EMI).

What does it cover?

Paper A covers the following sections of the syllabus:

  1. Behavioural Science and Sociocultural Psychiatry
  2. Human Development
  3. Basic Neurosciences
  4. Clinical Psychopharmacology
  5. Classification and Assessment in Psychiatry

On Paper A, the percentage split/marks on a 150 mark exam is/would be:

Behavioural Science and Socio-cultural Psychiatry16.67% / 25
Human Development16.67% / 25
Basic Neurosciences25.00% / 37 or 38
Clinical Psychopharmacology25.00%/37 or 38
Classification and Assessment in Psychiatry16.67% / 25

Transitional arrangements

Candidates who hold a Paper 1 or Paper 2 pass are only required to sit Paper A(i) or Paper A(ii). These papers are 90 minute exams worth 100 marks.

Paper A (i) comprises of sections 1, 2 and 5 of the syllabus.

Paper A (ii) comprises sections 3 and 4.

Please refer to the regulations for transitional arrangements.

Further information

MRCPsych Paper B is a written paper which assesses critical review and the clinical topics in psychiatry.

How long is the exam and what are the questions?

Paper B is a three hour exam worth 150 marks, comprised of 150 questions.

  • One third of the paper covers critical review

  • Two thirds of the paper covers clinical topics

What will it cover?

Paper B will cover the following sections of the syllabus:

  1. Organisation and Delivery of Psychiatric Services
  2. General Adult Psychiatry
  3. Old Age Psychiatry
  4. Psychotherapy
  5. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  6. Substance Misuse/Addictions
  7. Forensic Psychiatry
  8. Psychiatry of Learning Disability
  9. Critical Review
 PrevalenceAetiologyPresentationTreatmentOutcome 
Organisation and delivery     5.5%
General Adult0-6%0-7%0-7%0-8%0-7%20%
Old Age0-4%0-4%0-4%0-5%0-4%9%
Psychotherapy0-3%0-3%0-3%0-4%0-3%5.5%
Child & Adolescent0-4%0-4%0-4%0-5%0-4%9%
Substance misuse0-3%0-3%0-3%0-4%0-3%6.5%
Forensic0-3%0-3%0-3%0-4%0-3%5.5%
Learning disability0-3%0-3%0-3%0-4%0-3%5.5%
Critical Review     33.5%
Total (clinical specialties)15%20%20%25%20% 

 

Organisation and delivery5.50% / 8
General Adult20.00% / 30
Old Age9.00% / 14
Psychotherapy5.50% / 8
Child & Adolescent9.00% / 14
Substance misuse6.50% / 10
Forensic5.50% / 8
Learning disability5.50% / 8
Critical Review33.5% / 50

 

Do I need to take Paper B?

Under interim arrangements, candidates holding a valid pass in Paper 3 don't need to sit paper B.

Further information

The Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies (CASC) tests your clinical skills in a range of clinical situations.

What is the format for the CASC?

The CASC format is like an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination).

Please note the circuit of eight ‘link stations’ which used to take place during the morning session has ceased to exist.

The CASC is made up of two circuits of individual stations which will test your clinical skills:

  • The morning circuit will have 4 minutes to read the instructions (PDF) and 7 minutes to complete the task

  • The afternoon circuit will have 90 seconds to read the instructions and 7 minutes to complete the task.

The sixteen CASC station exam is made up of:

  • five stations focused on History Taking, including risk assessment
  • five stations focused on Examination - both physical and mental state, including capacity assessment.
  • six stations focused on patient Management

Circuit 1

  • 6 stations focused on Management
  • 1 x station focused on Examination
  • 1 x station focused on History Taking
  • 4 minutes reading
  • 7 minute task

Circuit 2

  • 4 x stations focused on Examination
  • 4 x stations focused on History Taking
  • 90 seconds reading
  • 7 minute task

The College reserves the right to change the order in which the circuits are presented. 

How is the CASC marked?

See the criteria for scoring a pass mark in CASC.

Please see updated CASC marksheets:

Guide for CASC candidates

For further information about stations, the role players and how you will be assessed, see the CASC candidate guide.

Further information

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry