Exam Details - Intercollegiate MRCS Part A

Key Facts

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Intercollegiate MRCS Part A

The Intercollegiate MRCS Part A exam is designed to test the knowledge of a surgical trainee to a level which should have been achieved two to three years after qualification. The exam is intercollegiate, meaning that it is common to all Colleges (The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, The Royal College of Surgeons of England and The Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland).

Exam Benefits

Pass the Intercollegiate MRCS Part A exam at RCSEd to progress onto Intercollegiate MRCS Part B (OSCE) for higher levels of specialist surgical training.

Exam Format

The Intercollegiate MRCS Part A is a five-hour multiple choice question (MCQ) exam consisting of two papers which are taken on the same day.

The papers sat at each of the Colleges at any particular sitting are identical and are held simultaneously

The exam uses single best answer MCQs and the papers cover generic surgical sciences and applied knowledge, including the core knowledge required in all nine specialities as follows:

  • Paper 1: Applied Basic Science
  • Paper 2: Principles of Surgery in General

The marks for both papers are then combined to give a total mark for Part A.

To achieve a pass in Intercollegiate MRCS Part A, the candidate will be required to demonstrate a minimum level of competence in each of the two papers. This is in addition to achieving, or exceeding, the pass mark set for the combined total mark for Part A.


Exam Fee: £550

Exam Eligibility

Candidates must hold a medical qualification that is acceptable to the UK General Medical Council for Full or Provisional Registration or to the Medical Council in Ireland for Full or Temporary Registration. Overseas candidates must hold a medical qualification acceptable to the Councils of the Colleges.

First-time applicants whose names do not appear on the Registers of the UK General Medical Council or Medical Council in Ireland must submit their original certificate (or an authenticated copy) of a medical qualification acceptable to the Councils of the four Colleges.

Full details can be found in the Intercollegiate MRCS Regulations document.

Candidates have six attempts in which to pass their Intercollegiate MRCS Part A exam.

Additional Information

Before applying for this exam, please ensure you have read and understood the relevant documentation.

Our Exam Policies and Procedures page will provide you with more general information about sitting an exam at the College.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to sit this exam with a basic medical degree?

Candidates must possess a primary medical qualification that is acceptable to the UK GMC or the IMC. For international medical qualifications, these must be acceptable to the Council of RCSEd.

How many attempts do I have?

Candidates have 6 attempts to pass their Intercollegiate MRCS Part A exam.

I have used all 6 attempts, can I sit the exam again?

There is an Intercollegiate policy that allows candidates to apply for an additional attempt. More information, including the relevant application form, can be found on the College website under Exams Policies and Procedures.

I have applied for the wrong centre, can I change this?

This is dependent on when you ask to change centres. It is not always possible to do this, so timing is key. Please contact the Examinations Department to discuss this.

I am a first-time applicant. What additional documentation do I need to submit?

You will be asked to submit a certified copy of primary medical qualifications (unless you have a GMC/IMC Number), 2 passport photographs, and a signed declaration to confirm that you have read and understood the regulations.

I am a re-sit applicant. What additional documentation do I need to submit?

You will need to submit a signed declaration form to confirm you have read and understood the regulations.

How can I apply for an examination?

You can apply for an examination via the RCSEd College website by completing the application form online or by downloading the paper application and submitting this to the Examination Section by post.

Where and when are the examinations held?

We hold examinations in the UK and Internationally. Please check the College website for exact dates and locations.

Where do I sent my supporting documents?

You can submit supporting documents electronically by scanning copies and emailing these to surgical.exams@rcsed.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can send it by post to the College address of FAO Examinations Department, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW.

I want to postpone my examination, what do I do?

Sadly, we cannot allow candidates to postpone their examination to a later diet. You will need to withdraw from the examination and then re-apply for the examination diet you wish to sit.

I want to withdraw from an examination, how do I do that?

You must advise the Examinations Department in writing (via email) that you wish to withdraw from an examination. Depending on when you request to withdraw, you may be asked to provide supporting evidence. If you withdraw before the closing date for application, there is no requirement to submit evidence. However, following the closing date, you will be required to submit evidence which must be received by the College within 14 days of the examination commencement date.

What are suitable reasons for withdrawing from an examination?

There are a number of number of reasons for needing to withdraw from an examination; these are:

  • medical reasons (illness prior or illness on the day of an examination)
  • compassionate grounds (e.g. bereavement)
  • unable to secure time off work
Can I get a full refund following my withdrawal from an examination?

Candidates who withdraw from an examination will be subject to a 20% administrative fee. 80% of your fee will be returned via the original payment method used to pay for the examination.

When will I receive my candidate notice?

Candidate notices are usually sent 4-6 weeks prior to the examination commencement date.

Will I be quarantined?

Occasionally candidates need to be quarantined. This depends on the examination session you are allocated to. For most examinations, we quarantine candidates who sat the morning examination session until the afternoon examination session has commenced. A light lunch is normally provided for you. You will receive information about whether you need to be quarantined in your candidate notice.

Is there somewhere to store my belongings?

Yes - where possible, we will provide you with a securely locked cloakroom to store your belongings. If this is not possible, we will have a designated area in the examination hall for this.

Can I keep my mobile phone and other electronic devices on my person?

When you register for the examination on the day, you will be asked to hand over your mobile phone and any other electronic devices (e.g. tablets, smartwatches) to the RCSEd Coordinator. Your device(s) will be placed in an envelope marked with your candidate number and stored securely in the RCSEd Administration Office while you undertake your examination.

When will my results be published?

Each examination varies. Results are normally published around 6 weeks after the examination has taken place. The intended results publication date will be stated on your candidate notice, and it will also be mentioned at your examination sitting.

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Get in touch

If you have any questions about this exam, please contact us and a member of our Examinations team will be happy to help you.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Examinations Section

Phone: +44 (0)131 527 1600
Fax: +44 (0)131 527 6406

Email: surgical.exams@rcsed.ac.uk