Finally, some good news for you guys!
From 2018 onwards we’re transitioning from the traditional 9-hour 270 question exam to a 6-hour 200 question MRCP Part 2 Written exam, separated right in the middle by a one-hour lunch break. Essentially both Part 1 and 2’s format will be identical. Instead of attending a two-day exam, you’ll only be there for one day, which I’m sure all of you will be complaining about, ha.
There are two immediate conceivable disadvantages I’m worried about in this new format. The first is whether the reduced number of total questions is sufficient to adequately sample the core medical training curriculum. With the amount of background work that goes into these exams, the most likely answer is that they’ll be able to maintain the quality of the exam but only time will tell.
My second worry is that you guys will have proportionately less time to answer each question i.e. in the old format, you were given 1 hour for every 30 questions but now you have to answer 33.3 questions per hour. You would hope they would reduce the length of the question stems a little just to make things slightly more manageable.
To give a more balanced view, there are some advantages to reducing the overall exam burden. By minimising the amount of time spent sitting exams, hopefully you can save one night’s worth of accommodation, sustenance and travel expenses which certainly adds up. The hospital and patients you’re working with will also enjoy more continuity of care.
My old blog post on MRCP Part 2 Written is a little outdated now and since writing it, the equated scaled score has increased to 454 out of 999. This post explains in more detail the process of equating and how your scores are calculated in MRCP.
Apart from the above, I think most other things are meant to be kept constant. That includes the question format, exam fees (darn!) and apparently the quality of the exam. Overall, having a 6-hour instead of a 9-hour exam will always be seen as an advantage to me.
If you enjoyed this article make sure you get your own copy of my MRCP Part 1 & 2 Written Guide. In this guide, I explore the above and other concepts such as time allocation and the most preferable resources for the written exams in much more detail.