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Overview of MRCP(UK)

  • June 06, 2018

Overview of MRCP(UK)

The Royal College of Physicians provides specialty examinations that are globally recognised as excellent quality benchmarks of medical knowledge and clinical skills. The federation is a partnership of:

  • The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • The Royal College of Physicians of London

To obtain Membership of the Royal College of Physicians you will have to sit three exams:

  1. MRCP(UK) Part 1 - £594: Please note that the application process/fee for the Hong Kong and Singapore centresare different.
  2. MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written - £594: Please note thatapplication process/fee for the Hong Kong and Singapore centres are different.
  3. MRCP (UK) Part 2 Clinical (PACES) -£1202

MRCP(UK) Eligibility

Candidates may apply to sit the MRCP(UK) Part 1 examination provided they graduated at least 12 months in advance of the examination date. All doctors must have had at least 12 months' experience in medical employment, i.e. have completed Foundation Year 1 or equivalent.

MRCP(UK) 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

Exam Format

Part 1 is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the clinical sciences relevant to medical practice and of common or important disorders to a level appropriate for entry to specialist training.

The exam has two test papers and each paper is 3 hours long and contains 100 multiple-choice questions in the ‘best of five’ format. You must choose the best answer from the five possible answers. Each correct answer is awarded one mark and there is no negative marking.

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.

Specialty Number of Questions
Cardiology 15
Clinical Haematology and Oncology 15
Clinical Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology 16
Clinical Sciences 25
Dermatology 8
Endocrinology 15
Geriatric Medicine 4
Gastroenterology 15
Infectious diseases and GYM 15
Neurology 15
Nephrology 15
Ophthalmology 4
Psychiatry 8
Respiratory Medicine 15
Rheumatology 15

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

What does the clinical sciences module comprise of?
1. Cell, 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.

MRCP 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 MRCP(UK) 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 echocardiograms.

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.

Specialty Number of Questions
Cardiology 19
Dermatology 9
Endocrinology and metabolic medicine 19
Clinical Sciences 25
Dermatology 8
Gastroenterology 19
Geriatric Medicine 9
Haematology 9
Infection Diseases and GUM 19
Neurology 17
Nephrology 19
Oncology and palliative medicine 9
Ophthalmology 3
Psychiatry 3
Respiratory Medicine 19
Rheumatology 9
Therapeutics and Toxicology 18

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

To access sample exam questions please click here.

MRCP(UK) Part 2 Clinical (PACES)

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 MRCP(UK) 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.

Station Encounter Duration of examiner-to-candidate contact
1 1.Respiratory system examination

2.Abdominal system examination
10 minutes

10 minutes
2 History-taking skills 20 minutes
3 1. Cardiovascular system examination

2. Nervous system examination
10 minutes

10 minutes
4 Communication, skills and ethics 20 minutes
5 1.Integrated clinical assessment
a) Brief clinical consultant 1
b) Brief clinical            consultation 2


10 minutes

10 minutes
Total Time   125 minutes (including five minutes between each station)

PACES Exam Structure:

  • 10 minutes are spent with each patient
  • 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 MRCP(UK) exam component?

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

MRCP(UK) 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 implies 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.”

MRCP(UK) Part 2

  • The data reveals that your best chance of passing Part 2 is to attempt it within 36 momths 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%

MRCP(UK) 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 also reveals that candidates have the best chance of passing PACES if they have already successfully completed the part two written examination.

Tips for helping you pass MRCP(UK)

  1. Register early – There is a high demand for sitting the MRCP(UK) 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 -

If you are an IMG who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] and we will be happy to help you. And head over to our Facebook Group: IMG Advisor for an online support network of IMG’s who want to relocate to the UK.

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


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