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Covid-19: Impact on RCPI exams and new 2020 – 2021 examinations calendar

Trainee using computer.

Examinations Calendar for 2020 - 2021 now available

We have published an updated examinations calendar for the rest of 2020 and dates for the first part of 2021. Written examinations recommenced in June 2020.

The situation with regards to COVID -19 continues to evolve. We will make decisions in line with the latest advice from the Government and Department of Health in Ireland.

2020-2021 Examinations Calendar

Published 30 July 2020

View exam dates and opening/closing dates for 2020 and 2021

Remote invigilation

All our written examinations will be delivered by remote invigilation.

You sit the same examination (structure, format and length) online, but in a quiet, secure place of your choosing. Instead of travelling to an examination centre and sitting the computer-based examination with other candidates, you do the same test as originally planned, but at your own computer – e.g. at home or at work. Candidates are supervised remotely by invigilators throughout the examination.

You can read more about remote invigilation here.

Clinical Examinations and OSCEs

Updated 14 October 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought numerous challenges, including into the area of the clinical and OSCE examinations. 

The safety of all involved, including our doctors and patients, continues to be our primary concern. We have worked closely and very hard with the Clinical Examination Boards and others, following public health advice, to plan for the recommencement of these examinations.

We are restarting the clinical examinations in Ireland with the first groups of doctors on the final year of their RCPI training programmes. These examinations are essential for the completion of their training. The examinations will run on multiple dates between November 2020 and February 2021. We will endeavour to offer this full cohort of doctors an opportunity to take the examination by the end of February 2021. These doctors will receive an email from RCPI with further details on 14 October 2020.

This round of examinations will be held in person with candidates and examiners present. The format of the examination has been adjusted somewhat but in essence remains the same as the clinicals held in the recent past – the outcomes, standards and the core principles of the examination remain the same. The main modification across all clinical examinations is in relation to strict adherence to infection control policies at the examination centre.

Dates of next Clinicals:
• Paediatrics – 6 and 13 November 2020 (Dublin)
• Obstetrics and Gynaecology - changed from 20 November 2020 (Dublin) to 14 December 2020 (Dublin)
• General Medicine – 16 November to 18 December 2020 (some dates within this period in locations in Ireland)

For candidates who are not on our training programmes and applied for a clinical examination in Ireland, which was postponed due to COVID-19, we guarantee that you will be offered a place to take our clinical examination in Ireland in Spring 2021. Our examinations team will be in touch to offer a place in a future exam or offer you a refund, whichever is your preferred option.

We are fully committed to providing clinical examinations for all eligible candidates based in Ireland in 2021. We are reaffirming our commitment to international candidates to recommence delivery of examinations in the first half of 2021.

We will be providing further details, including examination dates and the examination format by the end of January 2021 for all our clinicals that we will be offering next year.

We will do everything within our control to deliver these examinations as planned.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we navigate through this challenging situation.

Do you need support?

We understand the anxiety caused by this disruption and uncertainty. If you are feeling stressed you will find advice and information on our website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes. We now have a confirmed schedule for the rest of this year and provisional dates for the first part of 2021. We are recommencing the written examinations from the last week of June 2020.

The new Calendar is available here (PDF)

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We have been working closely with the Clinical Examination Boards and others as to the best way forward given the challenges posed by the pandemic.    Irish based candidates will be given an offering this coming late autumn / early winter.   International clinical examinations will take place in the first half of 2021.  More details are now on our website. 

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If your examination was postponed, we will try to accommodate you on the next available date. Places on the rescheduled remote examinations are limited. If we reach full examination capacity, priority places will be given to doctors on our Training programmes. If you are not offered a place on the upcoming examination we will endeavour to facilitate you on the examination after that.

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HST Entry (2021/22), completing your BST Training and RCPI Membership (Written and Clinical Examinations)

Please be reassured that there has been no change in the position of the College in relation to applying for and eligibility for HST.  If you are eligible to apply for Higher Specialist Training (HST) in Ireland, the postponement of the written and clinical examinations due to the pandemic will not impact on your progression to potential interview or your eligibility to receive an offer for this programme next year. You can still apply for HST (intake 2021/22) even if you haven't completed all Parts of the Membership examination by autumn 2020.  We have worked to ensure that all final year trainees have the opportunity to complete all components of the MRCPI examination – both now, late in 2020 and in spring 2021. 

Specifically in relation to the above:

  1. All candidates must have successfully passed their MRCPI Clinical examination by 30 March 2021 at the latest.
  2. In terms of application for HST for entry in July 2021. To be eligible to attend for HST interview:
  • you must have already passed your MRCPI Clinical

or

  • you recently sat it and are awaiting the result

or

  • you have a date booked and will be sitting it in spring 2021
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This is not possible.  Given travel and quarantine restrictions together with limited capacity available, all Clinical and OSCE examinations in Ireland later this year will not be open to international candidates.  The College is fully committed to providing clinical examinations for international candidates in General Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynaecology and we are working to deliver these in the first half of 2021.  We will provide further details, including examination dates and the examination format at the end of January 2021.

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Refunds are permitted prior to the closing date for applications. After that date, you will be allowed a transfer to a future exam if you are unable to sit the exam for Covid-related reasons. Please email examinations@rcpi.ie

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In light of the evolving and fast-changing situation globally regarding COVID 19, unfortunately RCPI cannot be responsible for any expenses (such as travel, accommodation etc) incurred by a candidate in the event of a cancellation or rescheduling of an examination.

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We are here to support you. Please email us at examinations@rcpi.ie

Impact on MRCPI Conferrings

Due to current social distancing guidelines, we are not able to hold conferring ceremonies in No.6 Kildare Street. Instead, eligible doctors can be conferred in absentia. 

Being conferred in absentia makes you a full Member of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and has no impact on your Membership status.

If you are conferred in absentia, you will receive a letter to confirm that you are a Member of RCPI and hold all rights associated with MRCPI. We will send a list of all new Members to the Medical Council. Your MRCPI certificate will be posted to you as soon as we can resume our usual working arrangements.

We will organise a welcome event for our new Members who are conferred in absentia at a later date, to give them an opportunity to celebrate this important milestone and meet the President in the College's historic home on Kildare Street.

FAQs about conferrings

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We advise you to be conferred in absentia in 2020. You will find information about our next conferring ceremony here: https://www.rcpi.ie/examinations/conferring-ceremonies/

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Doctors who are conferred in absentia are given a confirmation (holding) letter to say they have been conferred. We will provide the Medical Council with the names of those who have been conferred in absentia. Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, we will post your MRCPI diploma to you, at an address nominated by you, and you can provide to the Medical Council.

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Doctors who are conferred in absentia will be given a confirmation (holding) letter to say they have been conferred. Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, we will post your MRCPI diploma to you, at an address nominated by you. 

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Yes. All doctors who are conferred in absentia, and who are in possession of the confirmation (holding) letter, will be full members of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and have all the rights associated with membership.

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Doctors who are conferred in absentia are given a confirmation (holding) letter to say they have been conferred. We will provide the Medical Council with the names of those who have been conferred in absentia. Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, we will post your MRCPI diploma to you, at an address nominated by you, and you can provide to the Medical Council.

Where to find COVID-19 information for Ireland

For updates on the situation in Ireland, we recommend checking the following websites

Contact us

The best way to reach us during the COVID-19 pandemic is by email, as staff are working from home.

If you need to speak to someone dial +353 1 8639700 and press 1 for Exams. Phone lines are manned 09:00 - 17:00 GMT, Monday to Friday.