National professional examinations
In order to grant a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT), we must be confident that the doctor has demonstrated the competencies set out in the specialty curriculum through assessments including national professional examinations. We approve specialty assessment systems and consider the assessments in light of our Standards for Curricula and Assessment Systems.
We need to go further to satisfy ourselves and assure the public that CCTs are awarded only where doctors have met our standards and requirements for postgraduate medical education and training. So, we will need to be assured that past success in passing an examination is accepted as current when entering or re-entering a GMC-approved training programme.
In addition, we will need to be confident that the doctor genuinely has the competencies indicated by the pass. The pass should not follow a long run of fails at the same examination.
At our request, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has set expectations for the currency of examinations and the number of attempts. We have endorsed these expectations. They apply to both national professional examinations and to the separate Parts of the examinations.
The expectations set minimum requirements. Each royal college and faculty is welcome to set more stringent requirements for its own examinations in relation to currency and the number of attempts allowed.
The royal colleges and faculties are developing their procedures to ensure that they meet our requirements or go further in relation to currency and the number of attempts.
Expectations about the currency of examinations
- An examination may be taken before the candidate enters the relevant GMC-approved training programme or when they are on a break in the programme.
- In this scenario, the pass will be considered current as long as the candidate enters or re-enters the programme within seven years of passing the examination and satisfies any other currency requirements determined by the relevant royal college or faculty.
- These expectations are not absolute and will be applied flexibly. In individual cases, a royal college or faculty may undertake a detailed review of the circumstances and allow examinations to be counted which fall outside the expectations.
- The royal colleges and faculties may also wish to ensure that examinations taken during training programmes remain current and that long gaps do not occur that cast doubt on their currency. They can provide further information on their requirements.
- A pass in an examination taken after completing a training programme will not be acceptable for a CCT. In that situation, doctors may be able to demonstrate equivalence via the CESR or CEGPR process.
Expectations about the number of attempts at examinations
- No candidate will normally be allowed more than six attempts at an examination.
- Following six failed attempts, a candidate must provide evidence of additional educational experience to the royal college or faculty for each re-sit. The royal colleges and faculties will determine what sort of evidence will count. But those evidence requirements must apply to all candidates, including those not currently in GMC-approved training programmes.