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Overview of MRCP, Medical Oncology

  • February 27, 2019

If you are an international Medical Oncologist and planning to work at Registrar level within the UK – you will need to obtain MRCP and a pass in IELTS or OET.

To obtain MRCP, you will need to pass MRCP Part 1, MRCP Part 2 and PACES. In this post, we provide you with an overview of each exam, fees, the format, modules, exam tips and some useful revision resources.

If you are a Clinical Oncologist and planning to work at Registrar level within the UK – you will need to obtain FRCR (blog post to come) and a pass in IELTS or OET.

Did you know that an estimate of 1 in 2 people in the UK are likely to be diagnosed with a malignancy in their lifetime? For this reason, the NHS needs both and Clinical Oncologists now more than ever.


1. MRCPUK) Part 1 - £594: Please note that the application process/fee for the Hong Kong and Singapore centres are different.

2. MRCPUK) Part 2 Written - £594: Please note that /fee for the Hong Kong and Singapore centres are different.

3. MRCP (UK) Part 2 Clinical (PACES) - £1202

Please click here for a list of international test centres.

MRCPUK) Part 1

At a glance:

  • One-day examination
  • Two three-hour papers
  • 200 multiple-choice (best of five) questions
  • No images
  • Sat in an examination hall

You will be tested on a wide range of common and important disorders in General Medicine, which are set out in the Specialty Training Curriculum for Core Medical Training.

Please note that the above table is merely an indication, the questions may alter slightly in each examination sitting.

What does the clinical module comprise of?
1. , molecular and membrane biology
2. Clinical anatomy
3. Clinical biochemistry and metabolism
4. Clinical physiology
5. Genetics
6. Immunology
7. Statistics, epidemiology and evidence-based medicine

Please visit the Royal College’s site to note the available test centres and dates and to access sample questions please click here.

MRCPUK) Part 2

At a glance:

  • Two papers to be taken in one day
  • Each paper is three hours long
  • 200 multiple-choice questions (best of five)
  • Questions include images
  • Sat in an examination hall

Part 2 of the MRCPUK) diploma can only be taken once you have passed the MRCP Part 1 examination. Part 2 builds on your knowledge that was assessed in Part 1 and will test your acquisition of medical knowledge, skills and behaviour specific in the Specialty Training Curriculum for Core Medical Training.

From the beginning of 2018, the Part 2 exam moved to a single day format. The exam now consists of two, three-hour papers each with 100 questions each. Part 2 will test the ability to apply clinical understanding, make clinical judgements and will test your ability to:

  • Prioritise diagnostic or problem lists
  • Plan investigations
  • Select a plan for immediate management
  • Select a plan for long-term management
  • Assess prognosis

Exam Format

The questions in this exam will typically have a clinical scenario, it may include the results of investigations and may be illustrated with images such as clinical photographs, pathology slides, inheritance trees, ECGs, X-rays, CT and MR scans and

The questions will ask you about the diagnosis, investigation, management and prognosis of patients using multiple-choice questions in ‘best of five’ format. This format, in addition to testing core knowledge and comprehension, will also assess your ability to interpret information and to solve clinical problems. You must choose the best answer from the five possible answers. Each correct answer is awarded one mark and there is no negative marking.

Please note that the above table is merely an indication, the questions may alter slightly in each examination sitting.

To access sample here.


At a glance:

  • Half-day examination
  • Takes place in a clinical setting (hospital or clinical skills centre)
  • Assesses seven core skills
  • Five stations
  • Eight patient encounters
  • Two independent examiners at each station

The MRCPUK) Part 2 Clinical Examination (Practical Assessment of Clinical Examination Skills – PACES) sets rigorous standards to ensure that candidates are competent across a range of skills and ready to provide a high standard of care to patients.

To take PACES you must have passed MRCP Part 1 within the last 7 years.

What are the seven core skills?

1. Physical Examination – Demonstrate correct, thorough, systematic, appropriate and professional technique of physical examination

2. Identifying Physical Signs – Identify physical signs correctly and not find signs that are not present

3. Clinical Communication – Elicit a clinical history relevant to the patient’s complaints, in a systematic, thorough and professional manner.

4. Differential Diagnosis – Create a sensible differential diagnosis for a patient that the candidate has personal clinically assessed.

5. Clinical Judgement – Select an appropriate management plan for a patient or clinical situation. Select appropriate investigations or treatments for a patient that the candidate has personally clinically assessed.

6. Managing Patients’ Concerns – Seek, detect and acknowledge and address patients’ or relatives’ concerns, confirm their understanding and demonstrate empathy.

7. Maintaining Patient Welfare – Treat a patient or relative respectfully and sensitively and in a manner that ensures their comfort, safety and dignity.


At each station, you will encounter a patient or surrogate patient. Stations 1, 3 and 5 will have two encounters and stations 2 and 4 involve one. There is a total of eight encounters throughout the exam.

10 minutes are spent with each patient.

PACES Exam Structure:

  • For each case, a maximum of 6 minutes is allowed for the physical examination, followed by a minimum of 4 minutes for questioning from the examiners
  • There are written instructions for each case
  • Each examiner has a structured mark sheet for the case
  • Every candidate on the carousel will be examined by the same two examiners at each station

Please visit The Royal College website to gain access to sample clinical scenarios.

When should I take each MRCPUK) exam components?

The Royal College of Physicians has analysed previous candidate result statistics to reveal the points in time when pass rates tend to be the highest.

MRCPUK) Part 1

  • First attempt with 12-24 months after graduation – 70% pass rate
  • 36 months after graduation – 50% pass rate
  • 36-48 months after graduation – 40%
  • The guidance states “you should not apply before you feel you know enough to pass, the data that trainees who are well prepared can expect to pass at the first attempt and should not delay this beyond 24-months without good reason.”

MRCPUK) Part 2

  • The data that your best chance of passing Part 2 is to attempt it within 36 after graduating.
  • Candidates who take the exam at an earlier stage are slightly less likely to be successful, although the pass rate is still above 85%

MRCPUK) Part 2 Clinical (PACES)

  • The data reveals that you should delay attempting PACES at least 36 months after you have graduated
  • Those who take the exam between 12-24 months after graduation are “very unlikely to pass” as they have had no time to develop the necessary knowledge and skills in a clinical setting.
  • 24-36 months after graduation – 50% pass rate
  • 36-48 months after graduation – 77% pass rate
  • The data that candidates have the best chance of passing PACES if they have already successfully completed the part two written

Tips for helping you pass MRCPUK)

1. Register early – There is a high demand for sitting the MRCPUK) exams, especially PACES as spaces are limited. If you register early you can plan your revision to fit the exam schedule and reduce the risk of missing out on your perfect time slot.

2. Start revising early – We advise you to start revising at least six months in advance of each exam to prepare adequately. Although some doctors pass with less preparation time, do not risk it. If you start your exam revision as early as possible you will increase your chance of passing.

3. Use a varied range of revision resources – do not just stick to one big textbook for your revision. The additional use of online courses, discussion forums and online tests will increase your knowledge and confidence when it comes to the exam itself.

4. Try to cover all topics evenly – Excellent knowledge of smaller topics such as statistics, ophthalmology and psychiatry will allow you to collect extra marks for only a short period of study.

5. Check the Royal College’s exam regulations -

Useful Revision Resources


Pass Medicine

Medical Masterclass


Essential Revision Notes for MRCP

Basic Medical Sciences for MRCP Part 1

Best of five MCQ for Part 1

Cases for PACES

Question Banks

Revise MRCP

Royal College of Physicians

Pass Medicine

Certificate Examination - Medical Oncology

The Specialty Certificate Examination is the assessment method selected to determine whether a doctor has achieved competence in Oncology knowledge aspects of the curriculum.

Please note, that when it comes to applying to be on the Specialist Register via CESR or CCT, you will be expected to hold SCE Oncology.

The cost of SCE Medical Oncology is £665 in the UK and £833 overseas.

For access to the blueprint, please click here.

If you are an international medical or clinical oncologist and need support in relocating to the UK and joining the NHS – we can help you! Email your CV to [email protected] today.

Are you a member of our Facebook Group IMG Advisor?

Join today to gain access to frequent relocation blog posts, the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional support and the chance to meet other IMGs.

References (2018). Tips for choosing when to take MRCPUK) exams | Medacs Healthcare. ] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jun. 2018]. 2018) Part 1 | MRCPUK. ] Available at: 2018) Part 1 | MRCPUK. ] Available at: 2018) PACES | MRCPUK. ] Available at:

Cancer Research UK. (2019). Lifetime risk of cancer. ] Available at: [Accessed 27 Feb. 2019].


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