What does FRCOphth stand for?

Fellowship Exam of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

What does the FRCOphth exam involve?

The exam is made up of three parts: 

  1. Part 1 FRCOphth.
  2. Refraction Certificate. 
  3. Part 2 FRCOphth. 

To enter Part 2, you must first pass Part 1 and gain the Refraction Certificate. 

Passing this exam will allow you to obtain a Fellowship of the College.

Has the format of the exam changed and how has this affected the exam?

The new exam structure took over entirely from the beginning of 2009. The new Part 1 FRCOphth started running in October 2006. The Refraction Certificate started running in January 2007 and the Part 2 FRCOphth started running in autumn 2008.

The optics section of the old Part 2 MRCOphth is included in a structured written exam in the new Part 1 FRCOphth. Components from the current Part 2 Objectively Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) will be tested within the Work Based Places Assessments (WBPA) and in the Part 2 FRCOphth.

How many times can I take the exam?

You can take the exam as many times as you like. But if you are a candidate in ophthalmic specialist training in the UK, you must pass the exams within a specified time.  

How do candidates who have passed the old Part 1 fit into the new system?

If you’ve sat the Part 1 MRCOphth exam you had the option to sit the Part 2 MRCOphth until November 2008. If you did not pass the exam by that time, you will follow the new exam structure – starting with the Part 1 FRCOphth.

What is the format of Part 1 and Part 2 of the exams?

Part 1 is based on the curriculum from the first two years of training. It includes:  

  • basic sciences
  • theoretical optics
  • pathology
  • patient investigation
  • health economics.

There is no clinical component and the syllabus will be assessed by a written exam.

To sit Part 2, you must have already passed Part 1 and the Refraction Certificate. You must also have spent a minimum of four years in ophthalmic specialist training or the equivalent for overseas candidates. 

You are required to pass this exam by the end of year seven of ophthalmic specialist training.  

The structure of Part 2 is based on the curriculum of the final four years of training. There will be a written section and a multi-station clinical section. 

The final station will be a practical skills station, in which you will be assessed in skills such as:

  • use of removing/tying sutures
  • nasolacrimal duct syringing
  • setting up instruments such as phaco machines and visual field analysers. 

 All procedures will be undertaken using models/artificial patients.

Is the old MRCOphth equivalent to the new FRCOphth?

The old MRCOphth is not equivalent to the new FRCOphth since the new exam is set at a higher standard. 

You have to do four years in ophthalmology before sitting this exam, whereas for Part 3 of the MRCOphth exam candidates only needed 18 months.

If you’ve obtained the Part 3 MRCOphth and wish to obtain Fellowship, you must either undertake the Fellowship Assessment (Casebooks) or sit the Part 2 FRCOphth.

If I have completed the MRCOphth, will I have to sit any more exams?

If you have completed the MRCOphth and do not wish to obtain any further qualifications, you do not need to sit any further exams.

Why is there a requirement to obtain the Refraction Certificate?

The new Part 1 FRCOphth contains theoretical optics questions. There is no assessment of clinical skills. You will have to pass the Refraction Certificate in addition to Part 1 in order to progress to Part 2 FRCOphth.

Is it possible to do research before or during ophthalmic specialist training?

Yes, you are expected to undertake research projects. In addition, the programme is flexible and time can be taken for research. 

There is now a new Integrated Academic Training Pathway whereby trainees can do academic training/research in two phases: 

  • firstly, as Academic Clinical Fellows
  • and then as Clinical Lecturers.

This option also involves taking time out from the training programme to do research and higher degrees.

What happens if I do not pass the exams within the specified time frame?

You will be advised to leave the specialty.

Can I only sit the exam after 4 years of overseas training or can the exams be passed during the course of training?

The FRCOphth exam can be taken by anyone who is training to be an ophthalmologist anywhere in the world. 

But if you want to enter ophthalmic specialist training in the UK, you must take the exam and pass other competencies based in the workplace. 

If you want to stay overseas you are still welcome to take our exams. But passing these exams does not automatically allow you to apply for places in UK ophthalmic specialist training posts.

Do the exams have to be passed by a certain point in training?

  • Part 1 FRCOphth exams must be completed before you begin your third year of ophthalmic specialist training. 
  • The Refraction Certificate must be completed before you begin your fourth year of ophthalmic specialist training. 
  • Part 2 FRCOphth must be completed by the end of your seventh year of ophthalmic specialist training. 

 If these deadlines are not met, it will not be possible to progress with your training. 

How do I apply for Part 1 FRCOphth and what are the requirements for registration?

You can apply directly to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists before the registration deadline. You will need to:

  • Fill in an application form
  • Attach two photos,
  • Attach your GMC registration certificate (if applicable)
  • Attach an approved medical degree certificate and evidence of training if you are overseas.

How much does it cost and when is the next exam date?

The exam fee is £470. To learn about the next exam date and registration deadline, check The Royal College of Ophthalmologists examinations calendar.

How do I postpone my exam or get a refund?

Candidates should claim for a refund or for postponement directly to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Do you organise exams for people with disabilities?

We do our best to cater for any special needs. We will do all we can to help you understand test questions and ways of giving answers. You will be assessed fairly and objectively irrespective of disability.

If you require special arrangements please get in touch at least three months before submitting your application. Relevant supporting materials such as medical certificates should be submitted during registration. 

Where can I find out more about the exam?

Visit the Royal College of Ophthalmologists website or email exams@rcophth.ac.uk for more information.

External links