Fellowship Exam Attempts FAQs


Introduction

This guidance document provides further information on the requirements and restrictions surrounding the completion of Fellowship exams as detailed in the Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy.


Before the introduction of the Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy in 2019, candidates were permitted unlimited attempts at the Fellowship exams. All results expired three years after the first exam a candidate passed, and candidates could then attempt the exams again.


From 2019, candidates have been permitted a maximum of six consecutive semesters,  across three years to pass all three Fellowship exams.

This means candidates can have multiple attempts at each exam. However, due to the prerequisites for the clinical exam, if they do not pass the AKT and KFP until their sixth semester, they will only have one attempt at the clinical exam. 
 


The RACGP had never previously had a cap on the number of times a candidate may attempt the exams. However, RACGP research showed that after six unsuccessful attempts at an exam, candidates become increasingly less likely to pass at all. Permitting unlimited exam attempts has serious implications for patient and community safety.
In addition, other medical colleges across Australia permit only a limited number of exam attempts, with many of them offering candidates only one or two attempts to pass. The RACGP is now more closely aligned with accepted assessment practice, while still offering candidates several opportunities for exam success.


All doctors who have yet to be awarded Fellowship, including those currently on pathways to Fellowship and those who will join a pathway to Fellowship in the future.

Please note, some pathways have additional requirements that limit the time in which you can sit exams. These FAQs refer to those requirements as detailed in the Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy. Please review your pathway’s requirements for Fellowship policy to ensure you take these into account. All policies for pathways currently accepting applicants can be found in the Fellowship Pathways Policy Framework.

If you are on a pathway that no longer accepts applicants, you can find all policies relating to your pathway on our retired policies page.


If you have a valid pass for all three of your exam segments, this policy will not impact you.
Please be aware a valid pass may expire, requiring you to re-sit the exam. If this is the case, these changes will impact you. If you have not attempted the exams since 2019.1 , you will have six attempts over three years (subject to extension) in which to pass the exams.

If you have passed one or two exams prior to 2019.1, the pass result/s will remain valid in accord with the exam candidate handbook that was in place at the time of the first pass. If an exam pass expires during the period of candidacy you will need to repeat that exam.


The RACGP will not take exam attempts from before 2019 into account for the purposes of this policy. You retain exam passes, but not unsuccessful attempts: all candidates began again from 2019 with zero fails. Exam passes from before 1 January 2019 remain valid as per RACGP policy at the time. For example, if you passed the AKT in 2018.1, this exam pass will remain valid for three years. It is possible that it will expire during your exam candidacy, and you may be required to re-sit the AKT and pass it again during your period of exam candidacy.


You have a maximum of three years and six possible semesters within which to pass all three exams.

Please note, some pathways have additional requirements that limit the time in which you can sit exams. These FAQs refer to those requirements as detailed in the Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy. Please review your pathways requirements for Fellowship policy to ensure you take these into account. All policies for pathways currently accepting applicants can be found in the Fellowship Pathways Policy Framework.

If you are on a pathway that no longer accepts applicants, you can find all policies relating to your pathway on our retired policies page.

All candidates on the Vocational Training Pathway and the General Practice Experience Pathway will be able to suspend their candidacy for six months if they wish. However, you cannot sit exams during suspension – the six additional months does not entitle you to an additional attempt.


You may have multiple attempts at each exam. However, due to the prerequisites for the clinical exam, if you pass the AKT and KFP in your sixth cycle, you will only have one attempt at the clinical exam remaining.


All candidates on the Vocational Training Pathway and the General Practice Experience Pathway have the option to suspend their candidacy for six months at any time. If you don’t want to sit the exam for personal or financial reasons, you can use your suspension for this. You also might want to use this time after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, so that you can dedicate some time to working on any problem areas in your exam technique or knowledge.

You can suspend the current exam semester directly through your My Candidacy portal. If you wish to retrospectively suspend a semester, please email the RACGP at examinations@racgp.org.au


Additional ‘non-standard’ suspensions may be permitted if you experience extenuating and unforeseen circumstances. These circumstances are considered on a case-by-case basis, but must relate to circumstances which were unforeseen, outside the candidate’s control and which can be shown to have a direct and significant impact on the candidate’s ability to complete all exam segments within three years and six months, including:

  1. ill-health (other than minor illnesses) with valid certificates;
  2. carer’s leave with valid certificates;
  3. bereavement;
  4. acute adverse life circumstances;
  5. hospitalisation;
  6. Australian Defence Force deployment leave;
  7. Other circumstances involving significant changes to a participant’s circumstances.

You should inform the RACGP in writing to examinations@racgp.org.au if you feel that your personal circumstances require additional time off from sitting exams and you wish to apply for a non-standard suspension of candidacy. However, please note that additional time will be given only on a case-by-case basis and will not be automatic. All applications for non-standard suspension of candidacy must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation.


Parental leave as permitted under the National Employment Standards is also permitted, and registrars training as part of the Australian Defence Forces will be able to take additional time in case of deployment.


Exam results from before 2019 and exam results obtained during your candidacy are managed separately. Exam results from before 2019 are not automatically extended when you suspend your candidacy. Under the policy that was in place at the time, these results are valid for three years from the first pass. 
Exam results obtained during your candidacy are valid for the whole candidacy. This means approved suspensions will automatically extend the validity of your post-2019 results.
 


Yes, the AKT and KFP remain prerequisites for sitting the clinical exam


If you do not pass the KFP and/or AKT until the last semester in your candidacy, you will have just one attempt at the clinical exam. This attempt will be in the same semester that you became eligible to sit. Passing the written exams does not grant any kind of extension.


The Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy does not affect you if you have already passed your exams.


From 2019.1, once you begin to sit exams you will carry passes and fails with you regardless of a change in pathway. You can suspend your candidacy while you participate in your new pathway, but if you leave a pathway, you may lose exam attempts while you’re ineligible to sit.


Candidates are not eligible to sit the exams whilst they are undertaking the Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream (PEP Standard). Therefore, the RACGP will automatically suspend your exam candidacy until you satisfactorily complete the education program, as per the Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream Satisfactory Completion Framework . Your exam candidacy will automatically recommence once you have completed the PEP Standard. You are not required to apply to the RACGP for a suspension or recommencement of your exam candidacy.

If you have exam passes from before 1 January 2019, the validity of these passes will be extended by the length of your PEP Standard program time. For example, if you had a 2018.1 AKT pass due to expire at the end of 2021.1 before you commenced a 12-month PEP program in 2020, the validity of your AKT pass will be extended by 12 months and will now expire at the end of 2022.1.


All Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream (PEP Standard) participants must enrol in Fellowship exams as soon as the RACGP confirms they are eligible. Therefore, you should check the General Practice Experience Pathway Exam Eligibility Policy to see whether you’ll be eligible as soon as you finish the PEP Standard.

If you don’t have a valid General Practice Experience Assessment outcome as per the Assessment of General Practice Experience Policy, you should apply for an assessment so you can determine what else you need to do to become exam eligible.

Candidacy commences when a candidate enrols and sits their first exam. If a candidate enrols but then fails to sit the exam due to an unsanctioned withdrawal this will be deemed to be the beginning of their candidacy period.


Your exam candidacy and any previous exam passes were suspended while you were on the Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream (PEP Standard).

When you successfully complete the PEP Standard, your exam candidacy automatically restarts from the first semester after your program completion date. Therefore, you should enrol in exams in this semester.


Your exam candidacy and any previous exam passes were suspended while you were on the Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream (PEP Standard).

When you successfully complete the PEP Standard, your exam candidacy automatically restarts from the first exam semester after your program completion date.

If you don’t apply for and receive a suspension under the Fellowship Exam Attempts Policy, your number of exam attempts will be reduced by each semester.


You must have a valid GPE outcome before you enrol. An outcome that has expired is no longer valid.

If your outcome is due to expire, you should apply for a top-up. If your outcome has already expired, you can apply for a re-assessment. You can find more information on how to do this in the Assessment of General Practice Experience Policy.

Please note, it can take up to ten weeks from when you submit a completed GPE application to receive an outcome from the RACGP.


Your exam candidacy and any previous exam passes were suspended while you were on the Practice Experience Program – Standard Stream (PEP Standard).

If you don’t have a valid General Practice Experience Assessment outcome as per the Assessment of General Practice Experience Policy, you should apply for an Assessment so you can determine what else you need to do to become exam eligible.

Your exam candidacy commenced when you first enrolled in exams and will resume in the first exam semester after your program completion date. Therefore, you should start sitting exams again as soon as possible.


The RACGP deeply regrets the disturbance caused by the exam delivery failure in October 2020. We understand many candidates were upset, and some felt they did not perform as well in the re-scheduled exams as they would have hoped. Therefore, all affected candidates have been granted an additional semester in their candidacy, lifting the limit from six semesters in three years to seven semesters in 3.5 years.

Candidates affected by the October 2020 exam delivery failure who become eligible for the RCE or CCE in 2020 or 2021 are granted a total of two additional semesters, to a maximum of eight semesters over four years.

Please note, an affected candidate is a candidate who had a valid enrolment for either or both of the 2020.2 AKT and KFP exams as of 9 am AEDT Friday 9 October 2020.


In response to COVID-19, the RACGP had to rapidly introduce a new clinical exam – the RCE – to replace the OSCE. The RCE ran three times, in 2020.1, 2020.2 and 2021.1. From 2021.2, the RCE was replaced by a new, permanent clinical exam, the CCE.

To account for the disturbance to exam preparation, any candidate eligible to sit either the RCE or the CCE in 2020 or 2021 will be granted an additional semester in their candidacy, lifting the limit from six semesters in three years to seven semesters in 3.5 years.

This does not extend to candidates who only become eligible for the CCE in 2022 or later.

Candidates affected by the October 2020 exam delivery failure who become eligible for the RCE or CCE in 2020 or 2021 are granted a total of two additional semesteres, to a maximum of eight semesters over four years.


Changes to your medical registration do not necessarily mean you are no longer eligible to sit exams. You must disclose any changes to the RACGP as we will assess these on a case-by-case basis.

Please note, failure to inform the RACGP of any changes that might affect your exam eligibility will be handled as per the Academic Misconduct Policy.


All candidates are no longer eligible to enrol or sit exams if they lose their medical registration.

Additionally, for candidates on the General Practice Experience Pathway, your eligibility status for exams changes if your general practice assessment outcome expires or is superseded by a subsequent general practice experience assessment outcome showing you no longer meet the eligibility requirements outlines in clause 3.1 of the General Practice Experience Pathway - Exam Eligibility Policy.

Leaving any pathway or program, including the Australian General Practice Training Program, Remote Vocational Training Scheme, Specialist Pathway, or Practice Experience Program, is likely to terminate your eligibility to sit exams. You should consult your pathway’s exam eligibility policy on the Fellowship Pathways Policy Framework.

Please note, failure to inform the RACGP of any changes that might affect your exam eligibility will be handled as per the Academic Misconduct Policy.


Enquiries

 1800 626 901

 racgpeducation@racgp.org.au

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