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Overview of FRCPath Histopathology

  • September 23, 2020

The Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologist exams are broken into sub-speciality exams. In this post, we provide you with an overview of the FRCPath Histopathology exam. Including exam fees, eligibility, exam formats, topics covered and tips on successfully passing.


Exam Type


Part 1 Examination


Part 1 examination overseas (outside of the UK and Ireland)


Part 2 examination



FRCPath Histopathology Part 1

You are expected to have undertaken at least one year of Histopathology training and be equivalent to ST2 level before applying.

FRCPath Histopathology Part 2

The Royal College expects you to sit the Part 2 exam after three years of specialty training in Histopathology.

You should not attempt Part 2 until at least 12 months after successfully passing Part 1.

The Royal College of Pathologists suggests that prior to applying for the FRCPath Histopathology exam you should ask for guidance from your educational supervisor as to when to sit the exam.

When can I sit the exam?

The Royal College of Pathology offers the FRCPath Histopathology Part 1 and Part 2 twice a year, in Spring and Autumn.

Click here to apply.

Exam format and topics covered

Histopathology Part 1


Part 1 of the Histopathology exam is comprised of 125 multiple choice questions, including a mix of one-best-answer and extended-matching formats. Some Questions will include images.

The exam duration is three hours and its purpose is to assess your overall knowledge and understanding of histopathology/cytopathology, including the full range of autopsy practices undertaken in UK district general hospitals.

Histopathology Part 2 – Practical Examination


The second part of the Histopathology Part 2 exam comprises of six parts taken over the course of two days:

  1. Surgical Histology

You will be presented with 20 cases of 10 pairs of haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained slides in 20-minute slots over 3 hours 20 minutes on the second morning.

The cases are drawn from a wide range of organ systems including the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract, gynaecological tract, breast, skin, soft tissue, osteoarticular, respiratory, urological, lymphoreticular and endocrine systems. This list is not comprehensive and material from paediatric and neuropathological areas may also be included from within the systems listed above.

The questions will expect you to provide a diagnosis and the more complex cases will require you to provide a more detailed description, a diagnosis and special techniques.

  1. Cytopathology

The second part will include 8 non-gynaecological cytology cases provided in pairs in 20-minute slots on the first morning of the exam.

  1. Macroscopic Pathology

Here, you will be presented with 4 cases in the form of photographics of gross pathology specimens. Two 20 minute slots will be provided to view 2 cases per slot, followed by a 20 minute discussion with 2 examiners. Formal written reports are not required in this exercise, as you will be tested on your ability to discuss gross pathology and familiarity with block selection in the context of the RCPath Minimum Datasets.

  1. OSPEs

This part of the exam consists of 2 x 20-minute stations, one of which is a face-to-face exam whilst the other is a written exercise. You will be tested on management/clinical governance and multi-disciplinary team type cases.

  1. Long cases

You will also be presented with 4 x 20-minute stations on the first afternoon.

The stations will include: H&E stained sections, histochemistry (liver and renal biopsies), immunohistochemistry (tumours and lymph nodes), immunofluorescence (skin and renal biopsies) and electron microscopy (renal biopsies, tumours etc.) This list is not exhaustive and other types of cases may also be used.

  1. Frozen Sections

Within this part of the exam, there will be 6 cases to be viewed in 2 x 20-minute stations (3 cases per station). Here, you should make notes and provide ‘bottom line’ diagnosis only, to form the discussion with the examiner.

Tips for helping you pass FRCPath Histopathology

  1. Register early – There is a high demand for sitting the FRCPath exams. 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. Please see the resources we have listed below.
  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 Resources

Histopathology Part 1 Sample Questions

Path Kids

Virtual Pathology, University of Leeds

John Hopkins Medical Pathology Cases

Histopathology Question and Answers


If you’re an international doctor who has completed your FRCPath, please email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS Histopathology post and on your journey to relocate to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook group? When you join IMG Advisor, you join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of vlogs and blogs to the group every day. We will also be on hand to answer all of your 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 to 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 relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.

References (2019). Histopathology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2019].

Pathologists, T., 2020. Histopathology. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 September 2020].


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