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Overview of FRCOphth

  • May 01, 2019

If you are an international Ophthalmologist who wants to work in the UK above ST3+ level, you have three postgraduate qualifications available to you:

1. FRCOphth



Please note, the award of FRCOphth does not allow for direct entry onto the GMC Register. As an international doctor, if you want to be on the register you must either hold an acceptable postgradudate qualification or sit the PLAB exams along with FRCOphth.

You will also need to evidence your English language skills via IELTS or OET.

In this post, we provide an overview of FRCOphth. We cover exam costs, formats, modules tested and list some excellent revision resources.

Where can I sit FRCOphth?

  • London
  • Glasgow
  • Sheffield
  • Cairo
  • Chennai
  • Dubai
  • Kuala Lumpur

There are three exam elements to the FRCOphth qualification.

Part 1 Fellowship Examination - £575

The Royal College states that you do not need any previous experience in Ophthalmology to apply for the exam. There are three sittings per year which are typically in January/May and October.

Please note, you will be permitted a maximum of six attempts in which to pass the Part 1 FRCOpth examination.

            Exam Format

This examination comprises of two theoretical papers

  1. A three-hour Multiple-Choice-Question paper of 120 questions, consisting of one best answer out of four options
  2. A two-hour Constructed Response Question (CRQ) paper, consisting of 12 questions

Part 2 Fellowship Written Examination - £420

To sit FRCPOphth Part 2 Written examination, you will need to have passed Part 1 FRCOphth and there are two sittings held a year. Typically in the months of June and November.

You will be permitted a maximum of four attempts with this exam.

            Exam Format

The examination comprises of two question papers, each with 90 questions – a total of 180 multiple choice questions.

You will have two hours to answer each paper.

Part 2 Fellowship Oral Examination - £660 (UK) £2050 (Singapore)

To obtain the final element of FRCOphth, you would need to pass the Part 2 element. There are three sittings held a year. The UK sittings are usually held in April and November and then there is one sitting in Singapore each year.

You will be permitted a maximum of four attempts for this exam.

            Exam Format

  1. Structured Viva – usually held over the course of two days

This part of the exam consists of a series of five stations, with ten minutes per station. You will be permitted with a maximum of four attempts.

The stations are:

  • Station 1: Patient investigations and data interpretation
  • Station 2: Patient management 1
  • Station 3: Patient management 2
  • Station 4: Attitudes, ethics and responsibilities
  • Station 5: Audit, research and evidenced-based practice and health promotion and disease prevention
  • Station 6: Communication – Part of the OSCE but will be held with the Vivas, 10 minutes in duration

There will be two examiners present at each station.

The communication station is in an OSCE format and there will be a patient actor, you will be given five minutes to read the scenario before answering questions.

  1. OSCE – usually held over the course of three days

There will be five stations and three patients at each station, with 20 minutes per station.

  • Station 1: Anterior Segment
  • Station 2: Glaucoma and lid
  • Station 3: Posterior Segment
  • Station 4: Strabismus and Orbit
  • Station 5: Neuro-Ophthalmology

The Royal College stipulates that equipment will be provided in all stations but they recommend for you to bring your own equipment if you would feel more confident e.g. direct ophthalmoscope, lens, red hat pin etc.

You will be asked to discuss your findings and management plan with each patient.

What is included in the FRCOphth curriculum?

Anatomy, Physiology, Ocular Physiology, Physiology of vision, Biochemistry and cell biology, Pathology, Immunology, Growth and Senescence, Optics, Therapeutics, Lasers, Epidemiology and Evidence-based Medicine, Instrument technology, Biostatics, Clinical Genetics, Patient Investigation, Orthoptic Assessment, Assessment of Corneal Shape, Structure and Thickness, Assessment of Corneal Shape, Structure and Thickness, Retinal and Optic Nerve Imagine, Ocular Angiography, Ultrasonography, Radiology and other neuro-imaging, Ocular and Neuro-Physiology, Biochemistry, Haematology, Pathology, Microbiology, Biometry, Allergy Testing, Urinalysis and Bone Scans.

Please note, the above list is not exhaustive. Please click here for more information.

Revision Resources


EyeQ Ophthalmology Revision

Success in FRCOphth

Eye Docs

Sample Exam Questions

Part 1 Multiple-Choice-Questions



Basic Sciences in Ophthalmology. Ferris J. John Wiley & Sons

Clinical Anatomy of the Eye. Snell RS, Lemp MA

The Eye: Basic Sciences and Practice. Forrester JV, Dick AD

Clinical optics. Elkington Ar. Frank HJ and Greanet MJ

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The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. (2019). Examinations - The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2019].

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. (2019). Part 1 FRCOphth Candidate tips - The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2019].

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. (2019). Part 2 FRCOphth Written candidate tips - The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2019].

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. (2019). Part 2 FRCOphth Oral candidate tips - The Royal College of Ophthalmologists. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Apr. 2019].


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