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Overview of MRCPsych

  • February 10, 2021

MRCPsych (Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists) is a postgraduate qualification awarded to doctors who have completed the prescribed training requirements and membership examinations mandated by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

To sit MRCPsych you must be registered with the GMC or if you are an international doctor wanting to sit MRCPsych you must be registered with a recognised medical board from your home country and you should have undergone three years of training.

As an international Recruitment agency, BDI Resourcing recommend that Doctors wanting to practice Psychiatry within the NHS, take the MRCPsych route to GMC Registration.

There are three parts to MRCPsych: Paper A, Paper B and CASC.

Paper A

The MRCPsych Paper A is a written examination on the scientific and theoretical basis of Psychiatry. You are eligible to take Paper A if you are fully registered medical practitioner.

  • Duration: Three-hours
  • Value: 150 marks comprised of 150 Questions
  • Comprises of approximately: 2/3 multiple-choice questions and 1/3 extended-matching item questions

Paper A comprises of the following syllabus:

  1. Behavioural Science and Sociocultural Psychiatry (25 Q’s)
  2. Human Development (25 Q’s)
  3. Basic Neurosciences (27/38 Q’s)
  4. Clinical Psychopharmacology (27/38 Q’s)
  5. Classification and Assessment in Psychiatry (25 Q’s)

Paper B

The MRCPsych Paper B is a written paper which assesses critical review and the clinical topics in psychiatry. You are eligible to take Paper B if:

You are on an approved training programme. The Royal College recommend that you have 12 months’ experience in psychiatry before attempting Paper B


You are in a post recognised by your hospital as having contracted time and funding for educational training. Your job plan must include dedicated time for academic and educational activities, such as study leave.

  • Duration: Three-hour exam
  • Value: 150 marks comprised of 150 Questions
  • It is made up of approximately two-thirds multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and one-third extended matching item questions (EMI).
  • 2/3 covers clinical topics, 1/3 covers critical review

Paper B will follow the following sections of the syllabus:

  1. Organisation and Delivery of Psychiatric Services (8 Q’s)
  2. General Adult Psychiatry (30 Q’s)
  3. Old Age Psychiatry (14 Q’s)
  4. Psychotherapy (8 Q’s)
  5. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (14 Q’s)
  6. Substance Misuse/Addictions (10 Q’s)
  7. Forensic Psychiatry (8 Q’s)
  8. Psychiatry of Learning Disability (8 Q’s)
  9. Critical Review (50 Q’s)

The CASC (Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies)

This part of your exam tests your clinical skills in a range of clinical situations.

We advise for you to pass a GMC approved English Language Exam prior to sitting your CASC Exam as this will give you an advantage when communicating in English – IELTS or OET. To sit the CASC you must have previously passed Paper A and Paper B.

What is the format for the CASC?

The CASC exam is similar to an OSCE (Objective Structed Clinical Examination).

The exam comprises of two circuits of eight single stations which will test your clinical skills:

  1. The Morning Circuit will allow you  4 minutes to read the instructions and 7 minutes to complete the consultation task
  2. The Afternoon circuit will have 90 seconds to read the instructions and 7 to complete the consultation task

The sixteen CASC station exam is made up of:

  • 5 Stations – focused on History taking, including risk assessment
  • 5 Stations – focused on Examination, both physical and mental state, including capacity assessment
  • 6 Stations – focused on patient management

Circuit 1 (Morning)

6 x Stations focused on Management

1 x Station focused on Examination

1 x Station focused on History Taking

4 minutes reading time

7 minutes task

Circuit 2 (Afternoon)

4 x Stations focused on Examination

4 x Stations focused on History Taking

90 seconds reading time

7 minute task

If you are interested accessing CASC support group which share links to webinars, offer weekly study sessions on Skpe, provide example questions and doctors who have sat the exam will share their experience – email us requesting the details at [email protected].

General Advice

  • It is fundamental that a lot of preparation goes into these exams. From hearing various doctors experience, it is advised for you to start your revision at least 4 months ahead of each exam.
  • When you are considering your approach to your revision, look at the Royal College’s syllabus and organise it based on each module. We suggest for you to focus extra time on the areas that you find most difficult, but it is important to remember to revise all areas of the syllabus.
  • Try and vary your revision, use textbooks, online courses, complete past papers, practice with friends or colleagues. The more you vary your revision the easier you will find it to absorb information.
  • Our top tip – try and keep a balanced life whilst you are revising for your exams. Eat healthily, exercise, socialise with friends and family and give yourself some time off to relax.

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