Examination FAQs



When will examinations re-start?

We intend to re-start our examination activity from 01 September 2020. We expect to run all written and clinical examinations in the UK, and all written examinations internationally, as planned. This is subject to UK and international government advice and regulations.  


Why was my examination postponed?

Since the middle of March, in light of the global pandemic and the UK Government’s decision to impose lockdown to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 virus, there have been no examinations held by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) – nor any of the medical Royal Colleges - in the UK or internationally.

Globally, many countries have closed their borders and are placing restrictions on gatherings – particularly of clinicians. We expect this to continue for the next few months, however this is subject to change. We are constantly monitoring UK and international government websites and we are working hard to re-schedule every exam for as soon as it is safely possible, in line with regulations and advice from respective governments.

We have a responsibility to safeguard all our staff, examiners, candidates and the wider society in which they live.


The lockdown restrictions are being eased in other areas of the UK before those in Scotland, will this mean examinations run by RCSEd will be further delayed?

We are working hard to reschedule all examinations everywhere as soon as is safely possible. It is not expected that any differences between the speed at which the Scottish and UK governments ease restrictions will affect RCSEd examinations.


Can I apply for examinations scheduled for later in the year now?

Yes – It is our clear intention to re-commence our examinations programme from 01 September 2020. So, if you wish to book an examination place, please apply as normal via the website in order to reserve your place.

However, we may not take full payment for some examinations until we know for certain that the exam will go ahead as scheduled. The fee will be stated in the exam notes, but please note that the ‘cost’ may be listed as £1 for some examinations.  This is simply a device to enable your booking to be registered - and your priority established - where we cannot take full payment at this time.

If you pay (or have previously paid) the nominal £1 fee advertised during COVID-19 restrictions, once the exam is confirmed we will write to you to request full payment of the remainder of the exam fees and your place will be formalised. It may be the case that we have already written to you about this.

Examinations scheduled from September onwards can now be booked in the usual way.


What about international examinations?

We expect to run all diets of written examination globally as planned. Of course, this will depend on respective government regulations and any constraints they might impose, and some of these restrictions may be applied at very short notice. We remain hopeful that we will be able to run some international diets of our face-to-face practical, clinical and OSCE exams this year. Again, this will depend on government permissions, restrictions and other circumstances beyond our control.


 Can you guarantee my examination will run?

We are making every effort to ensure our examinations take place. However, neither we nor any other College can guarantee to run an exam - even online - because circumstances and restrictions beyond our control may force postponement.


Will you offer online alternatives to ensure my exam takes place?

Scoping work is ongoing with our inter-collegiate bodies, with a view to ensuring some key, career-dependant exams will run this year. Any decision on remote or online delivery will be made only by inter-collegiate agreement and will be announced accordingly.  

For collegiate exams, we do not intend to hold examinations online. Offering hastily-conceived alternatives could require a change in formats and structure which could potentially undermine the validity, reliability and standard of the examinations overall. We do not wish to potentially disadvantage candidates by delivering an exam which may be perceived as a lesser 'Covid-19 Qualification'.

We are also acutely aware of our responsibility for assuring patient safety, and to the GMC and GDC to demonstrate that the highest standards prevail. Therefore, the College has decided to deliver the current examinations as normal, albeit likely under social distancing conditions to protect candidates, examiners and staff.


I need to pass the examination entered to continue my training. What impact will this have on my career progression?

For certain career-dependent examinations, those reaching a key point, such as leaving a training post or progressing to ST3, will be given priority for sitting examinations, should the need arise. However, we are confident that we can accommodate everyone who needs to sit a specific diet.

Moreover, arrangements have been made by the GMC and GDC to account for difficulties caused by Covid-19, so please check their websites for up-to-date information. Discussions with employers, regulators and agencies involved in the delivery of training regarding promotion, competency and assessment are taking place at this time to ensure no candidates are disadvantaged. Candidates are strongly advised to discuss their situation with their educational supervisor and/or training programme director.


What if my transferred examination date falls outside of the permitted time to complete my examination?

The UK and devolved governments, GMC, GDC and all the inter-collegiate bodies are working together to ensure that any candidate who has had their exam postponed or affected will not be disadvantaged. For Collegiate exams, there will be an automatic 12-months extension to a candidate’s time limit to complete their examination process.


I was scheduled to sit an exam that was postponed. What happens to my booking?

All bookings will be honoured. Those candidates who have had their exam postponed will have priority at the re-scheduled diet. Due to the global nature of pandemic of COVID-19 we cannot yet specify dates for all of these diets at this stage. 


Can I book or transfer onto another examination diet?

If you are scheduled to sit a postponed examination please do not book another diet.  We will contact you to offer an automatic transfer of your booking to the next diet; you do not need to take any action. All current exam bookings will be honoured and your priority assured for the next diet, or a forthcoming diet of your choice.


What will happen to my fee?

All examination fees paid thus far will be retained with your application and transferred without penalty - and protected from any increase - to the next available diet.


Can I cancel my booking?   

If you cancel your booking, you will lose your place on the priority list. You might not receive a refund for the full amount of the fees.


Can I transfer my examination to a different location to the one I had booked previously?

Where this is possible, we will try to meet your preferences, but in some cases this is not yet possible to arrange, as we are unclear about when and where the next diets will run. We will advise of possible dates and locations as soon as we are able.


How will I be contacted regarding any changes?

We will contact you through your College user account on the registered email address you provided on your application.


How can I contact the College?

Rather than calling the College, please email the college in the first instance:





For any Faculty exams:



Contacting us by email ensures we can prioritise and deal with your query or concern as efficiently as possible. Please don’t email repeatedly, as this will delay our efforts to deal with all affected candidates and to re-arrange our examinations.  

Download the full FAQ document here.


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