Exams and Qualifications

MRCPCH: An Overview for International Paediatricians

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Understanding the MRCPH postgraduate qualification for Paediatricians


The UK postgraduate qualification for international paediatricians applying for GMC registration is the MRCPCH. We’ve written an MRCPCH overview to help overseas paediatricians better understand this postgraduate qualification.

What is the MRCPCH qualification?

MRCPCH Theory Exams Overview

  • Entry requirements
  • Foundation of Practice (FOP): Theory exam structure
  • Theory and Science (TAS): Theory exam structure
  • Applied Knowledge in Practice (AKP): Theory exam structure
  • Question types
  • Marking
  • Dates Locations and Costs
  • Royal College Resources
  • Practice papers

MRCPCH Clinical Exam Overview

  • Entry requirements
  • Exam Structure
  • Marking
  • Dates Locations and Costs
  • Royal College Resources

What is the MRCPCH qualification?

Our MRCPCH overview for paediatricians begins by detailing what the MRCPCH qualification is.

MRCPCH stands for: Membership of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) are the professional body who conduct the MRCPCH exams and are responsible for the postgraduate training of paediatricians in the UK. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health award the MRCPCH postgraduate qualification to doctors who have successfully passed the MRCPCH exams.

To obtain a licence to practice via the postgraduate route, the GMC require international paediatricians to hold the MRCPCH qualification.

The MRCPCH qualification compromises of four individual exams, including three theory exams and one clinical exam. Candidates can take the theory exams in any order, but they can only take the clinical exam once they have passed all three of these.

The three theory exams are:

  • Foundation of Practice (FOP)
  • Theory and Science (TAS)
  • Applied Knowledge in Practice (AKP)

Followed by the MRCPCH Clinical exam.

MRCPCH Theory Exams Overview

Each of the three MRCPCH theory exams are computer-based and are taken in an exam centre. There are numerous question types used throughout the MRCPCH theory exams although, the most common is the single best answer style (SBA’s).  

The core knowledge requirements for the theory exams can be found here.

Entry Requirements

Candidates who are looking to take the MRCPCH theory exams must hold a GMC recognised primary medical qualification (PMQ).

Both the FOP and TAS can be taken on the same day. As a rule, the FOP exam is always in the morning, while the TAS exam is in the afternoon.

Foundation of Practice (FOP): Theory exam structure

Formerly known as the MRCPCH Part 1A, the FOP exam lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes and assesses a candidate’s knowledge, understanding and clinical decision making abilities. The purpose of this exam is to ensure that candidates have reached the standard of someone entering core specialist training. 

It is part of both the MRCPCH and Diploma of Child Health (DCH) exams.

The questions are usually made up of the following: 

  • 79 SBA questions
  • EMQ questions

Questions will cover one aspect of the topic, for example:

  • Choose the most likely diagnosis from the following
  • Decide on the best treatment for each of these children
  • Choose the organism which matches most closely each of the following case scenarios

Theory and Science (TAS): Theory exam structure

Previously known as the MRCPCH Part 1B, the TAS theory exam lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes and tests the basic scientific, physiological and pharmacological principles of clinical practice, and of evidence-based practice. 

The questions in this exam are generally made up of the following:

  • 70 SBA questions
  • 10 EMQ questions

Similarly to the questions in the FOP exam, they will cover one aspect of the topic. 

Applied Knowledge in Practice (AKP): Theory exam structure 

The AKP theory exam, which used to be known as the MRCPCH Part 2, is made up of 2 tests which last 2 hours and 30 minutes each. The AKP tests are both taken on the same day and will assess a candidate’s knowledge, understanding and clinical decision making abilities.

The exam is made up of the following:

  • N of many questions. 
  • EMQ’s
  • Photographic material data interpretation
  • Case histories

Each of the exams will have the same approximate amount of total marks.

MRCPCH Question types

Best of Five

Best of five questions will test a candidates judgment and experience. A simple statement or short clinical scenario will lead into five possible options of which only one is completely correct (or more correct than the others from the given list). 

They should only cover one aspect of the topic, so stems might be:

  • which investigation is most likely to lead to a diagnosis?
  • what is the most common cause of this?

Extended Matching Questions (EMQs)

EMQs are similar to best of five questions, however in this case, a list of 10 possible answers is offered with three statements or clinical scenarios. Again, all could be possible but only one is completely correct. These questions are usually accompanied by laboratory results that are similar but with differences.

Case histories

These questions are designed to assess a test takers ability in diagnosing, planning investigations and management. Case histories, including photographic material, and the results of physical examinations and investigations therefore make up each question.

Data interpretation

These questions will consist of either laboratory or graphical data, with candidates then being asked for their specific points of interpretation.

N of many

Only used in the AKP exam, N of many questions are similar to SBA questions, however, two or three answers are required from a longer list. 

Marking

For each of the exams, there is one best answer from a given list of answers. Candidates are therefore only given marks for selecting the correct answer. There exception to this is the AKP exam, where some of the questions may score different amounts of marks due to having multiple correct answers (which applies to N of Many questions).

Dates, Locations and Costs

The MRCPCH Theory exams can be taken worldwide, including the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malta, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Nepal , Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Trinidad.

Usually held three times a year, the costings for the exam very much depend on the location that applicants will be taking it in. Each exam will vary anywhere between £390 – £750 depending on which test you are taking. In light of this, please click here for details on the fees and dates for the Theory exams.

Royal College Resources

For a full guide on the theory exams structure and syllabus, please click here 

To purchase textbooks produced by the RCPCH, click here

For a list of preparation courses run by the RCPCH, click here

Foundation of Practice (FOP)

Theory of Science (TAS)

Applied Knowledge in Practice 1

Applied Knowledge in Practice 2

MRCPCH Clinical Exam Overview

Held on a hospital site, the MRCPCH Clinical Exam assesses whether candidates have reached the standard of clinical skills needed for any newly appointed ST4 in Paediatrics.

Entry Requirements

Before anybody can apply for MRCPCH Clinical Exam, they will need to have passed all three theory exams. The College also recommend that candidates have:

  • Completed a period of training lasting two and a half years from the graduation date on their diploma of medical qualification
  • Spent no less than 12 months in posts involving the care of emergency paediatric patients within the five years prior to the exam date
  • Spent six months of their first year after graduation as a house paediatrician. If not, then an additional six months in a post involving the care of emergency paediatric patients.

Exam Structure

Made up of 10 different stations working on a rotation basis, the MRCPCH clinical exam will test a candidates’ skills in a variety of areas within paediatrics.

Based at each station will be one examiner, but additional examiners may also be present for quality assurance. The 10 stations are as follows:

Station 1  Clinical station 1 (9 minutes)
Station 2 Clinical station 2 (9 minutes)
Station 3 Clinical station 3 (9 minutes)
Station 4Clinical station 4 (9 minutes)
Station 5 Red and Blue Development station x 2 (22 minutes)
Station 6 Red and BlueHistory station x 2 (22 minutes)
Station 7 Communication A (9 minutes)
Station 8 Communication B (9 minutes)
Station 9 Video A (9 minutes)
Station 10Video B (9 minutes)

Participants will be entitled to 4 minute breaks between each station, as well as 3-4 minutes of preparation before each circuit begins, meaning that the total circuit time is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.

These stations can occasionally be updated by the College. Please therefore click here to view the very latest MRCPCH clinical information for candidates.

Marking

To pass the MRCPCH Clinical exam, you must obtain a score of 63 (or above) out of a possible 82 marks.

Dates, Locations and Costs

The MRCPCH Clinical Exam can be taken in the following countries; UK, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, Sudan, United Arab Emirates

Costings for the exam very much depend on the location that applicants will be taking it in, and can range from £765 – £1479. In light of this, please click here for details on the fees and dates for the clinical exam.

Royal College Resources

Information for Candidates – MRCPCH Clinical

Anchor statement by station type – MRCPCH Clinical

Combined mark sheet proofs – MRCPCH Clinical

Technique for Clinical 1-4 and Development – MRCPCH Clinical

How to Apply – MRCPCH


If you are interested in working in the UK, want to discuss available job opportunities or may have already begun your journey and need further advice, please contact our team today.