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.

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

The Covid19 Pandemic has brought numerous challenges, including into the area of the clinical and OSCE examinations. 

The safety of our doctors and patients are our primary concern and we have worked closely with the Clinical Examination Boards and others, following public health advice, to recommence offering these examinations from later this calendar year. 

Covid19 has imposed public health and international travel restrictions that will reduce the number of candidates that will be able to take these examinations in the months ahead.

For the rest of 2020, priority will be given to candidates on our BST programmes and those currently living in Ireland and working in the Irish healthcare system.   The broad timeline periods for these are:

  • Paediatrics – November 2020
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology - the second half of November 2020
  • General Internal Medicine – the first half of December 2020

Specific dates for all 2020 examinations will be published on our website in early October.

  • All examinations due to be held later in 2020 in Ireland will be held in person with candidates and examiners present.
  • In response to Covid, the format for these examinations will be modified – these details will be announced this early October. For all our clinical and OSCE examinations, standards and rigour are at the heart of what we do.  The College and the Examination Boards are very mindful of this.   We will be examining the core principles of the examination.
  • The College is fully committed to providing clinical examinations for international candidates who are affected by travel restrictions 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.
  • For candidates who applied for clinical examinations that were postponed from earlier this year, the RCPI Examinations Team will be in contact shortly about transfers / refunds.

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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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 are supervised remotely by invigilators throughout the exam.

Candidates are required to adhere to the following requirements to sit an exam by remote invigilation:

  • A quiet, secure environment – a room where candidate can take the exam without interruption.
  • A PC or laptop computer with a reliable internet connection, webcam and microphone. Must have permissions to install software.
  • Multiple screens, headphones and earbuds are not permitted.
  • Prove your identity. This must be a driving licence, passport or public services card.
  • Scrap/rough paper is not permitted. A virtual notepad is available for use during the exam.
  • Candidate mobile phone must be within reach in the room where sitting 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
  • Candidate is confident you she/he 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

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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.

You must complete these setup checks 72 hours in advance of your exam slot.

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.

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If you are eligible to apply for Higher Specialist Training (HST) in Ireland, the postponement of written and clinical examinations in the first half of 2020 will not impact on your progression to potential interview or your eligibility to receive an offer for this programme. You can still apply for HST (intake 2021/22) even if you haven't completed all Parts of the Membership examination by November 2020. We have worked to ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to complete all components of the MRCPI examination before spring 2021. It is still a requirement however to have full MRCPI when you start HST.   

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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.

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

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.