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

Trainee using computer.

Revised Examinations Calendar for 2020 now available

We have made good progress on plans for all our written examinations and we now have a confirmed schedule for the rest of 2020 and provisional dates for the first part of 2021. We are recommencing the written examinations from the last week of June 2020.

If you had been registered for a written examination due to take place in March or April 2020, you will receive an email from us by 30 May 2020 with specific arrangements for you.

As you can appreciate, the situation with COVID -19 is evolving and very challenging. We continue to make decisions in line with the latest advice from the Government and Department of Health in Ireland.

Revised 2020 Examinations Calendar

Published 12 June 2020

View exam dates and opening/closing dates for 2020.

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.

A quiet, secure environment means:

  • A room to which you have exclusive access (single occupancy - not shared)
  • A room that does not have integrated security cameras, or any recording equipment, other than the webcam on your PC or laptop
  • You are confident you will not be disturbed during the examination, e.g. by traffic, construction work, or people

You can read more about remote invigilation in our Frequently Asked Questions below.

Clinical Examinations and OSCEs

As our clinical examinations are delivered in a hospital setting and require close contact with patients, there is a lot of complexity associated with delivering these examinations. All Colleges are facing challenges with holding clinical examinations in this pandemic. We will be guided by public health advice and will work closely with the clinical examination boards and others as to the best way they can safely proceed. We will have further updates update here on our Clinicals and OSCEs in due course so keep an eye on this web page. It is still our aspiration to offer those cancelled in July later this year.

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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Clinical examinations that were due to take place May - June 2020 are not going ahead. We are unable to offer the clinical examinations in a hospital setting at this time. All Colleges are facing challenges with holding clinical examinations in this pandemic. We will be guided by public health advice and will work closely with the clinical exam boards and others as to the best way to proceed. We realise these are important examinations, but we need to deliver them in a way that is safe, and still maintain the standard and integrity of the examination process. We will have an update here on our Clinicals and OSCEs in due course. It is still our aspiration to offer these later this year – postponed offerings and offerings we had planned from July 2020 onwards in our previous calendar.

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We now have a confirmed written examinations calendar for the rest of this year. Opening and closing dates for bookings will be posted by 29 May 2020 on the Calendar.

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Our written examinations are delivered using computer-based testing (CBT). Each examination will be delivered fully for all candidates through Remote Invigilation.

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

You will be supervised remotely by invigilators throughout the exam.

What you need is:

  • A quiet, secure environment – a room where you can take your exam without interruption
  • A PC or laptop computer with a reliable internet connection, webcam and microphone. Must have permissions to install software - Multiple screens and headphones are not permitted.
  • Your mobile phone must be within your reach in the room where you are the taking the exam. The phone is for registration/technical support purposes only.

A quiet, secure environment means:

  • A room to which you have exclusive access (single occupancy - not shared)
  • A room that does not have integrated security cameras, or any recording equipment, other than the webcam on your PC or laptop
  • You are confident you will not be disturbed during the examination, e.g. by traffic, construction work, or people

For more information about remote invigilation visit https://www.testreach.com/exam-candidate-testreach.html

A Yes. You will get good technical support before and during your examination with our partner, Testreach. You will be contacted well in advance of your examination date and given instructions, guidance and a test on your computer, so all will be set up well in advance. More information can be found here: https://www.testreach.com/exam-candidate-testreach.html
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Priority will be given to those who were impacted by the examinations being rescheduled. We hope to accommodate all candidates in our new schedule for examinations. If we can’t facilitate you on to the next offering, we will endeavour to get you on to the very next examination diet after that. In the event that we reach full examination capacity, priority will be given to trainees on our Training Programmes.

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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.

A If you are eligible to apply for Higher Specialist Training (HST) in Ireland, the postponement of examinations will not impact on your progression to interview or your eligibility to receive a potential offer for this programme. You can still apply for HST even if you haven't completed all Parts of the Membership examination by November 2020. We are working to ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to complete all components of the MRCPI examination before July 2021. It is still a requirement however to have MRCPI when you start HST.
A Yes, given the current challenges and uncertainty with COVID 19, we will permit a refund in this circumstance. 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

Our next MRCPI conferring will take place on 23 July 2020. 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 on 23 July.

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.

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.