MRCPsych exams are the most important exams a psychiatry trainee in the UK will sit during his or her career. Passing the MRCPsych is the most perceptible of the criteria that demonstrate the achievement of a number of competencies during the training. Since spring 2008, there has been a significant change in the pattern of the exam. The structure, syllabus, and the format of questions have changed significantly. The details are clearly given in the Royal College website. They are summarized below for quick reference. Please note that these details are subject to change and so we recommend checking with information at www.rcpsych.ac.uk before you apply. The college has brought out new exam regulations that came into effect on January 2009. Candidates must have completed the mandatory training period of 12 months of post foundation training in psychiatry by the date of sitting the written exams. The recommended time frame for attempting Paper 3 is when the candidate is 18–30 months into training. Posts must be part of a programme of training approved by PMETB OR recognized by the Hospital or Trusts as having specific time, programme (journal clubs, grand rounds, teaching, supervision, etc.), and funds allocated for training. Individual posts can be of either 4 or 6 months’ duration. In addition, the college also has placed emphasis on successful completion of annual review of competency progression (ARCP) and other workplace based assessments (WPBA) to be eligible for training. The exact details need be confirmed from the college website as they are subject to regular reviews. The MRCPsych Paper 3 is 3 hours long and contains 200 questions. The paper consists of multiple choice questions (MCQs = 75%) and extended matching items (EMI = 25%). MCQs are in the ‘best of five’ (BOF) format. A BOF MCQ comprises a question stem of varying length, followed by a list of five options. Candidates should choose the single best option that answers the question. The college has retained the EMI format from the previous pattern in the new format. An EMI comprises of a specific theme (sometimes with a short description), followed by a set of answer choices (often in an alphabetical order) and a lead-in statement explaining what the candidate is being asked to do.
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