1. The expectations

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 can 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 on currency 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 run-through or higher training programme will not be acceptable for a certificate of completion of training. In that situation, doctors may be able to demonstrate equivalence via the CESR or CEGPR process. An examination pass obtained after completing a core training programme, but before completing the candidate's higher training programme, will be considered current for award of a certificate of completion of training.

Expectations about the number of attempts at examinations

  • No candidate will normally be allowed more than six attempts at an examination.
  • After 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.

As a time-limited exception (to August 2023), doctors entering the Health Education England Targeted GP Training scheme will have the opportunity for up to two re-attempts at the CSA or AKT exams as appropriate, following a test of their readiness to re-sit, irrespective of their previous number of attempts. This is in the interest of fairness for doctors who did not benefit from the additional training time available to GP trainees from 2018.