Blogs > Postgraduate Qualifications


  • April 08, 2020

MRCS, the Intercollegiate Membership examination of the Royal College of Surgeons, aims to test a doctor’s knowledge, experience and clinical abilities expected of trainees at the end of their core training in surgery, regardless of your chosen specialty. Completing both parts of MRCS will grant you membership to one of the four Royal Colleges in the UK and Ireland and will grant you access to higher specialist training.

In this article, we will offer an overview of MRCS Part A, what you can expect from the examination and provide you with some study resources to offer you the best opportunity of passing this first part of your exam. We also have an article giving a broader overview of both parts of MRCS, which you may read here.

Am I Eligible?

In order to be eligible to attempt MRCS Part A, you must hold a primary medical degree that is accepted by the General Medical Council (GMC). If you are a first-time applicant and do not currently hold GMC registration, you will need to submit your original primary medical degree certificate to the Royal College.

How Much Does it Cost?

Currently, MRCS costs £550 to take in the UK, the fee can vary slightly depending on the country you plan to sit the exam in. You can find out how much it will cost in a particular country on the Royal College of Surgeons website.

What Language Can I Sit the Exam in?

Currently, you can only sit MRCS Part A in English.

MRCS Part A Format

The exam consists of two papers and both are multiple choice question (MCQ) papers where you must select whichever answer you believe to be the most accurate. Overall, the exam will last five hours. The first paper will be sat in the morning and will take three hours, and the second paper is two hours and will be sat on the afternoon of the same day.

The exam will cover your applied knowledge of surgical practice and generic surgical sciences. Paper one will cover applied basic sciences, and paper two will cover principles of surgery in general.

The syllabus for MRCS can be broken down into ten modules as follows:

Module 1

Basic science knowledge relevant to surgical practice

Module 2

Common surgical conditions

Module 3

Basic surgical skills

Module 4

The assessment and management of the surgical patient

Module 5

Perioperative care of the surgical patient

Module 6

Assessment and early treatment of the patient with trauma

Module 7

Surgical care of the Paediatric patient

Module 8

Management of the dying patient

Module 9

Organ and tissue transplantation

Module 10

Professional behavior and leadership skills

Where can I Sit MRCS Part A?

Part A can be sat in several locations in the UK and all over the world. You can find the full list of countries on the MRCS website, and you can also see the individual fee to sit the exam in each country.

UK Locations

  • Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • London
  • Cardiff
  • Coventry
  • Manchester
  • Nottingham
  • Stirling

Global Locations

  • Afghanistan
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Botswana
  • Burma
  • Cameroon
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Kenya
  • Kuwait
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian State
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia

Revision Resources

There are many revision resources available for MRCS Part A, and we highly recommend that you make use of them in order to give yourself the best possible chance of passing.


Books are an excellent resource as many of them cover the types of questions you may encounter during the exam, and can offer you excellent opportunities to practice.

MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes Book 1 by Catherine Parchment Smith and Claire Ritchie Chalmers

MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes Book 2 by Catherine Parchment Smith and Claire Ritchie Chalmers

Basic Science for the MRCS: A revision guide for surgical trainees, 3e (MRCS Study Guides) by Andrew T Raftery BSc MBChB(Hons) MD FRCS(Ed), Michael S. Delbridge MB ChB(Hons) MD FRCS (Vascular) and Helen E. Douglas MB ChB MSc MD FRCS (Plast)

Get Through MRCS Part A by Nikhil Pawa, Paul Cathcart and Howard Tribe


Many websites offer access to multiple resources for the exam, and some of them even enable you to take practice examinations and receive feedback.

Pastest MRCS Part A – This website supplies practice questions and learning resources.

eMRCS – This site offers sample questions and feedback, though you will need to sign up with them to make use of their services.

Blog - How I scored 89% in the MRCS Part A exam - Very popular Blog Post written by a previous candidate


YouTube videos can be an excellent visual aid, if you are more of a visual learner.

MRCS Part A: The Exam Format by Pastest

MRCS Part A: Exam Trigger Words by Pastest

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups can be a helpful resource as you can interact with other doctors preparing for the exam, and learn firsthand from people who have already taken it.

MRCS Revision Part A & B



Our Tips

Our tips for passing MRCP Part A are:

  • Make sure you understand the syllabus provided by the Royal College of Surgeons, if there are any topics you are not sure about, make sure you focus on these during your preparation for the exam.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare, allow yourself at least a few months to give you time to familiarise yourself with the content of the exam.
  • Make use of the resources on offer during your studies.
  • On the day of the exam, make sure you read questions carefully, and go back and check your answers if you have time.

What do I do if I don’t pass?

It can be very discouraging if you do not pass the first time around, but take this as a learning experience, focus on any areas you struggled with and work hard to improve on these topics ready for your next attempt. It may also be reassuring to know that you have six attempts at MRCS Part A, so if you don’t pass the first time, you have opportunities to try again.

Good luck!

If you’re a doctor with full MRCS, and would like support relocating to the UK and finding a job in the NHS, email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you on your relocation journey.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you will join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs to the group every day. We will also be on hand to answer any relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 60 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS.

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go with IMG Advisor the Podcast. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on obtaining GMC registration and securing an NHS job.


Sitecore\[email protected] (2020). Intercollegiate MRCS Part A – Royal College of Surgeons. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2020].

Sitecore\admin (2011). UK Trainees – JCST. [Online] JCST. Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2020].

Regulations for the Intercollegiate Membership Examination of the Surgical Royal Colleges of Great Britain and in Ireland. (2019). [Online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2020]


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