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Concern over MRCGP exam

By Nigel Praities

Trainee GPs facing their penultimate chance of taking the old-style MRCGP exam have achieved ‘staggeringly poor' pass rates under figures obtained by Pulse.

The results intensify concerns over GP training, after Pulse revealed earlier this month the completion of general practice training had become tougher after the introduction of the new MRCGP exam in August 2007.

Pass rates for the MRCGP exam are normally around 80%, but this summer only 64% of candidates taking the MRCGP passed the written paper, 63% the oral paper and 73% the video skills section of the exam.

Candidates fared far worse when attempting elements from the new MRCGP exam introduced last year, with a pass rate of 56% for the applied knowledge test.

Dr John Pike, a GP in Bristol, said some of the pass rates were ‘staggeringly poor' and would cause ‘untold misery' for the unsuccessful candidates who had only one more chance to take the old-style MRCGP before it was fully withdrawn later this year.

‘I ask whether this exam is too difficult and whether the standards are too high? I am perturbed that standards have been raised so much at this end stage of the MRCGP,' he said.

A spokesperson from the RCGP said the standards for the exam had not changed and it was due to the cohort of candidates.

‘More than usual of these doctors are repeating the examination rather than sitting it for the first time; historic data show that repeat attempts impact negatively on pass rates. The standards for the examination are criterion referenced rather than norm referenced and have not been altered,' she said.

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