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  • The MRCS examination has two parts: Part A (written paper) and Part B Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).You are strongly advised to read the guidance notes below before sitting the MRCS exam. They cover the following key topics:
    • topics and skills that may be examined
    • entry requirements
    • Part A format, duration and sample questions
    • Part B format and duration
    • candidate registration and conduct
    • marking and results

The syllabus for MRCS

  • Can be broken down into ten modules as follows:
    • The MRCS examination is an intercollegiate examination run jointly with the other Colleges of Surgeons in Great Britain and Ireland.
    • Award of the Diploma of Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons indicates that a candidate has enhanced his or her knowledge, understanding, experience and clinical competence well beyond primary qualification level.
    • Download the syllabus & guidelines from RC of the UK and in Ireland website

Eligibility for MRCS Exams


MRCS Part A

  • The MRCS Part A exam is designed to test the knowledge of a surgical trainee to a level that 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).

MRCS Exam Benefits

MRCS Exam Format

Module 1Basic science knowledge relevant to surgical practice
Module 2Common surgical conditions
Module 3Basic surgical skills
Module 4The assessment and management of the surgical patient
Module 5Perioperative care of the surgical patient
Module 6Assessment and early treatment of the patient with trauma
Module 7Surgical care of the Paediatric patient
Module 8Management of the dying patient
Module 9Organ and tissue transplantation
Module 10Professional behavior and leadership skills
  • To achieve a pass in 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.
  • The 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 specialties 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.
  • The exam consists of two papers and both are multiple-choice question (MCQ) papers where you must select whichever answer you believe to be the most accurate.
    • Overall, the exam will last for five hours.
    • The first paper will be sat in the morning and will take three hours, and the second paper is two hours and will be sat on the afternoon of the same day.
  • The exam will cover your applied knowledge of surgical practice and generic surgical sciences. Paper one will cover applied basic sciences, and paper two will cover the principles of surgery in general.
  • Click here for further details.

MRCS Part B – OSCE

  • The Intercollegiate MRCS Part B (OSCE) integrates basic surgical scientific knowledge and its application to clinical surgery. Its purpose is to build on the test of knowledge in Part A and assess how this is applied in clinically appropriate contexts.
  • This is done through a series of stations reflecting elements of day-to-day clinical practice.

Membership of the College

  • By choosing to sit your MRCS Part B exam at RCSEd, you will be joining our membership network of approximately 25,000 professionals in over 100 countries worldwide.
  • As well as joining a College renowned for its friendliness and approachability, the College offers a wide range of membership services to support you through every step in your career and professional development.

MRCS Exam Benefits

  • ass both parts of the MRCS exam to prove that you possess the correct knowledge, skills and attributes to complete basic training and to progress to higher levels of specialist surgical training.

MRCS Exam Format

  • The Intercollegiate MRCS Part B is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
  • The exam consists of twenty stations, each lasting ten minutes.
  • There are eighteen examining stations and two preparation stations. Candidates are given a one-minute reading time in which there are clearly defined instructions, briefly outlining the scenario and describing the task.
  • The stations are divided into two broad components:
    1. Applied Knowledge – consisting of anatomy, surgical pathology, applied surgical science and critical care
    2. Applied Skills – consisting of communication skills in giving and receiving information, history taking and clinical & procedural skills
  • Candidates must pass both the knowledge and skills components to pass Part B.

MRCS Part B Format

  • It is important to note, the MRCS Part B, also known as the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) will normally consist of 18 examined stations each of 9 minutes duration.
  • These 18 stations will be divided into four broad content areas, as seen below:
Applied Knowledge
160 marks
1. Anatomy and Surgical Pathology5 Stations
2. Applied Surgical Science and Critical Care3 Stations
Applied Skills
200 marks
3. Clinical and Procedural Skills6 Stations
4. Communication Skills4 Stations
  • Each station is marked out of 20 marks.
  • In addition to the four broad content areas examined in the OSCE and listed in the chart above, there are an additional four areas that are assessed, which encompass Good Medical Practice of a competent surgeon. They are as follows:
    1. Clinical knowledge and its application: the clinical knowledge specified in the syllabus; the ability to understand, synthesize and apply knowledge in a clinical context.
    2. Clinical and technical skill: the capacity to apply sound clinical knowledge, skill and awareness to a full investigation of problems to reach a provisional diagnosisthe ability to perform manual tasks related to surgery which demands manual dexterity, hand/eye coordination and visual/spatial awareness.
    3. Communication: the ability to assimilate information, identify what is important and convey it to others clearly using a variety of methods; the capacity to adjust behaviour and language (written/spoken) as appropriate to the needs of differing situations; the ability actively and clearly to engage patient/carer/colleague(s) in open dialogue.
    4. Professionalism:
      • the demonstration of effective judgment and decision making skills;
      • the consideration of all appropriate facts before reaching a decision;
      • the capacity to make the best use of information and think beyond the obvious;
      • being alert to symptoms and signs suggesting conditions that might progress or destabilize;
      • being aware of own strengths/limitations and knowing when to ask for help;
      • the ability to accommodate new or changing information and use it to manage a clinical problem, to anticipate and plan in advance, to prioritise conflicting demands and build contingencies, to demonstrate effective time management; being aware of the need to put patient safety first.
  • Click here for further details

Recommended textbooks

  • Basic science textbooks (Anatomy)
    1. Agur AMR, Dailey AF. Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, 12e. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins,2008.
    2. Netter FH. Atlas of Human Anatomy, 5th edn. Saunders, 2010.
    3. Sinnatamby CS. Last’s Anatomy: Regional and Applied, 12th edn. Churchill Livingstone, 2011.
  • Basic science textbooks (Physiology)
    • Barrett KE, Barman SM, Boitano S, Brooks HL. Ganong’s Review of Medical
    • Physiology, 23rd edn. McGraw-Hill, 2009.
  • Basic science textbooks (Pathology)
    1. Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N, Mitchell R. Robbins Basic Pathology, 8th edn. Saunders, 2007.
  • Clinical textbooks
    1. Garden OJ, Bradbury AW, Forsythe JLR, Parks RW. Principles and Practice of Surgery, 5th edn. Elsevier, 2007.
    2. Williams NS, Bulstrode CJK, O’Connell PR, eds. Bailey and Love’s Short Practice of Surgery, 25th edn. Hodder Arnold, 2008.
  • Courses and websites
    1. ATLS course
    2. CCrISP course
    3. Intercollegiate basic surgical skills course

Also Read:

  1. MRCS Candidate Guidance at the RC of the UK and in Ireland website
  2. MRCS Examination Dates
  3. Applying for the MRCS
  4. How to pass the MRCS


Also watch:

  1. Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Youtube channel
  2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England Youtube channel 
  3. Surgical Affairs Youtube channel  
  4. MRCS PACK Youtube channel 
  5. Orthopaedic Principles Youtube channel
  6. MRCS Mentor Youtube channel
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