Exams and Qualifications

An overview of FRCPath Histopathology

What is FRCPath?

FRCPath stands for: Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists

The Royal College of Pathologists are the professional body who conduct the FRCPath exams and, furthermore, are responsible for the postgraduate training of pathologists in the UK.

The Royal College of Pathologists award the FRCPath postgraduate qualification to doctors who have successfully passed the FRCPath exams.

FRCPath Part 1 (Histopathology)

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to have undertaken at least one year of histopathology training and be in ST2 before applying to attempt the Histopathology FRCPath Part 1.

Exam Structure

The FRCPath Part 1 is a three hour examination which is designed to test a candidates knowledge and understanding of histopathology/cytopathology, including the full range of autopsy practices undertaken in a district general hospital in the UK and the basic science, including molecular biology underpinning pathology.

The exam comprises of 125 multiple choice questions, with a mixture of one-best-answer and extended-matching formats. Some single best answer questions will also have images.

Trainees will normally require experience of specialty training in Histopathology in order to achieve the standard required to pass the Part 1 Examination.

Dates, Locations and Cost

Held in both the Spring and Autumn each year, Part 1 written examinations can usually be arranged in the below overseas locations:

  • Cairo (Egypt)
  • Delhi (India)
  • Erbil (Iraq)
  • Hong Kong
  • Irbid (Jordan)
  • Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)
  • Khartoum (Sudan)
  • Kuwait
  • Rawalpindi (Pakistan)
  • Singapore

Within the UK and Ireland, the available centres are London, Edinburgh, Sheffield, and Dublin. 

For more details on the examination dates and costs, click here. This page will also detail any changes to the timing, content or structure of an exam. 

Royal College Resources

FRCPath Part 2 (Histopathology)

Entry Requirements

To sit the FRCPath Part 2 exam, applicants must have passed the FRCPath Part 1 exam.

Candidates are expected to take the FRCPath Part 2 examination in Histopathology after three years of specialty training. Normally, candidates should not attempt the Part 2 Examination until at least twelve months after successfully completing FRCPath Part 1.

It is advised that candidates wanting to take the FRCPath Part 2 exam should speak to their Educational Supervisor or sponsor to seek advice as to whether they are ready or eligible to sit the Examination.  

Exam Structure

Taken over a two day examination period, the FRCPath Part 2 examination in Histopathology compromises of the six components below:

  • Surgical histology
  • Cytopathology (non-gynaecological cytopathology)
  • Objective structured practical examination (OSPE)
  • Macros
  • Frozen sections
  • Long cases

Each section of the exam assesses a distinct set of professional skills, each essential to performance as an independent medical practitioner in histopathology and cytopathology.

Surgical histology

Twenty cases will be provided in 10 pairs of haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained slides in 20 minute slots over 3hrs 20 minutes on the second morning. The cases are drawn from a wide range of organ systems including:

  • upper and lower gastrointestinal tract
  • gynaecological tract
  • breast
  • skin
  • soft tissue
  • osteoarticular
  • respiratory
  • urological
  • lymphoreticular
  • endocrine systems

This list is not comprehensive and material from paediatric and neuropathological areas may also be included from within the systems listed above.

The cases will represent a range of difficulty from straightforward cases readily diagnosable on a single H&E section, more complex cases requiring more detailed description, differential diagnosis and special techniques, and cases not capable of diagnosis on a single H&E which should prompt an approach for further techniques, extra blocks and specialist opinions.


On the first morning of the exam, eight non-gynaecological cytology cases will be provided in pairs in 20 minute slots.


The OSPE part of the exam consists of 2 x 20 minute stations, with one being conducted face-to-face with 2 examiners and the other a written exercise. Topics may include management/clinical governance type and MDT type cases.

Macroscopic Pathology

Candidates will be provided with four cases in the form of photographs of gross pathology specimens. In addition to this, candidates will receive clinical information and will be asked to prepare their responses to specific questions and to mark on the photographs where they would take blocks.

Two 20 minute slots will be provided to view 2 cases per slot, followed by a 20 minute discussion with 2 examiners. Formal written reports are not required in this exercise, which is designed to allow candidates to demonstrate their capabilities in discussing gross pathology and familiarity with block selection in the context of the RCPath Minimum Datasets.

Long Cases

On the first afternoon of the exam, candidates will be presented with 4 x 20 minute stations. These stations will include cases which cannot conventionally be covered by a single H&E stained section and require additional stains such as:

  • histochemistry (liver and renal biopsies)
  • immunohistochemistry (tumours and lymph nodes)
  • immunofluorescence (skin and renal biopsies)
  • electron microscopy (renal biopsies, tumours etc.)

This list is not exhaustive and other types of cases may also be used.

Frozen Sections

The Frozen Section component of the exam will consist of 6 cases which the candidate will need to view in 2 x 20 minute stations (3 cases per station). They’ll then meet with a pair of examiners in a 20 minute station.

Candidates should make notes and provide a ‘bottom line’ diagnosis only, to form the basis for discussion in face to face meetings.

Dates, Locations and Cost

In addition to the test centres in the UK and Ireland, it may be possible to take the FRCPath Part 2 Histopathology examination in:

  • Irbid, Jordan
  • Cairo, Egypt.

This will be offered on an annual basis in either Spring or Autumn session, subject to the number of applicants. All other Diploma practical, Part 1 practical and Part 2 examinations can only be taken in the UK. 

For more details on the examination dates and costs, click here. This page will also detail any changes to the timing, content or structure of an exam. 

Royal College Resources