Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP(UK)) is a postgraduate medical diploma in the United Kingdom (UK). The examinations are run by the Federation of the Medical Royal Colleges – the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The three Royal Colleges of Physicians share this common three part assessment in general medicine which consists of two written parts and one clinical examination. Examinations are held throughout the UK and in overseas centres.

Choosing the right time to take your MRCP(UK) examinations

Each pass in your MRCP(UK) examinations marks a milestone in your career, and is the result of significant preparation and study. In addition, passing all three parts of the MRCP(UK) examination is now a requirement for entry into specialist training in the UK. Naturally, candidates are keen to maximise their chance of success. The exams are challenging and while hard work is required, getting the timing right is another important consideration.

We can offer some broad guidance, based on statistics we gathered on candidates who gained their primary medical qualification between 2005 and 2009. However, it is important to remember that these data reflect trends across a large group, while individual situations differ. Therefore, we would always encourage you to discuss this decision with your clinical supervisor.

General trends:

In general, the data suggest that pass rates are highest when candidates:

  • make their first attempt at the Part 1Examination within 12 to 24 months of graduation
  • make their first attempt at the Part 2 Written Examination within 36 months of graduation
  • delay their first attempt at the Part 2 Clinical Examination, PACES, until 36 months after graduating
  • pass the Part 2 Written Examination before attempting PACES.

The information here will help you make the best choices about when to take your exams. Details about each part of the MRCP(UK) are provided below.

The MRCP exam has three parts: MRCP Part 1 (written paper); MRCP Part 2 (written paper); and MRCP Part 2 Clinical Examination (PACES).

The MRCP part 1 examination consists of multiple choice questions in the best of five format. .

The MRCP part 2 examination consists of multiple choice questions in the best of five format.

The MRCP PACES examination consists of a carousel with 5 stations.

Station 1 : Tests the candidate’s ability to examine the respiratory system and abdomen.

Station 2 : Tests the candidate’s history taking ability.

Station 3 : Tests the candidate’s ability to examine the cardiovascular system and perform a neurological examination.

Station 4 : Tests the candidate’s communication skills and the ability to deal with issues of medical ethics.

Station 5 : Comprises two 8-minute “integrated clinical assessments” requiring the candidate to take a focused history and examination, formulate a differential diagnosis and management plan, and communicate the plan to the patient.