Independent review of exams

Published 25/01/2022

We are pleased to announce that, following an open tender process, Professor John McLachlan has been appointed to carry out an independent external review of the FRCA, FFICM and FFPMRCA examinations. This review will pay particular attention to experiences arising from the September 2021 FRCA Final Written Exam and the October 2021 FFICM OSCE, but will be an overall review of exams in general, with scope extending to: 

  • Internal infrastructure (IT, systems)  

  • Technology (suppliers used by the College and delivery systems)  

  • Resources (budget and staffing)  

  • Staffing (size and skill mix of administrative and operational team)  

  • Question bank (size and development process)  

  • The role of examiners incl. decision making, role, structure and size  

  • The role of staff  

  • Processes  

  • Delivery methods (online vs. remote vs. in person delivery)  

  • Standard setting and validity  

  • Human factors  

  • Communications and contingency planning 

  • The effect of exams on wellbeing, including impact on home and work lives and the sense of community cohesion among candidates and examiners gained in face-to-face settings 

Prof McLachlan has carried out similar reviews for the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) Situational Judgement Test, the British Pharmacological Society and MSC Assessment Prescribing Safety Assessment, and, on behalf of Health Education England, the re-sit processes of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He was also previously commissioned by the GMC to review assessment processes with respect to Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board tests. He is currently a member of the Expert Reference Group for the GMC’s Applied Knowledge Test for the incoming national Medical Licencing Assessment and psychometrician to the UKFPO.  

A particular aim of the review will be to gather the views of stakeholders and those who have previously undertaken the assessments or who are preparing to take them.  

The review starts week commencing 24 January 2022. Professor McLachlan will want to have some one-to-one conversations and we will share candidates’ views and the notes from the Listening Events and Engagement Events held by RCoA and FICM with him too. We aim for the review to report to Council within six months and will be open and transparent on the findings with our members, our representatives and our stakeholders.