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Specialty Certificate Examinations

Our globally recognised Specialty Certificate Examinations (SCEs) offer physicians a postgraduate qualification which demonstrates to prospective employers achievement of a standard required of UK specialist trainees.

The purpose of the Specialty Certificate Examinations (SCEs) is to:

  • ensure that certified specialists have sufficient knowledge of their specialty to practice safely and competently as consultants
  • complement workplace-based assessments
  • provide a rigorous national assessment to establish public confidence
  • offer a challenge similar to sub-specialty certification examination in North America

Place of Specialty Certificate Examinations in training

A Specialty Certificate Examination is now a compulsory component of assessment for Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) for all UK trainees whose specialist training began in or after August 2007 and is in one of the following specialties:

  • Acute Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
  • Gastroenterology (Now the ESEGH from 2018)
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Medical Oncology
  • Nephrology (Now the ESENeph from 2020)
  • Neurology
  • Palliative Medicine
  • Respiratory Medicine
  • Rheumatology

There are no eligibility requirements for international candidates.

The SCEs meet requirements for knowledge-based assessments that are a part of the curricula submitted to the General Medical Council (GMC) by the Specialist Advisory Committees (SACs). UK trainees who have completed MRCP(UK) would normally take the SCE during higher specialist training, and should have made at least one attempt by the time of their penultimate year assessment. The SCE is a prerequisite for attainment of the CCT.

Purpose of Specialty Certificate Examinations

Candidates should be aware that the examinations are a test of their knowledge of key areas of the UK specialty training curriculum. The competences tested by the SCE are clearly stated in the specialty curriculum (available on the JRCPTB website). The SCE forms part of the package of assessment that Specialty Trainees are required to complete in order to obtain their CCT; it is not designed to test only knowledge of everyday working practice.

Images in questions

MRCP(UK) values the feedback it receives from candidates who take our examinations.  The responses in surveys are analysed in detail and reported to examining boards.

A lot of comments are left in response to the question in the survey about the quality of images, particularly about the lack of facilities for manipulating images (e.g. with a zoom function).

Candidates should be aware that all of the information necessary to answer the question is in the image provided and the stem. Images are checked by Examining Boards on computer displays that match the specification of those at the examination centre; we deliberately do not include questions that require images to be manipulated as we are aware that this function is not available.

SCE pass mark review

We have been given approval by the General Medical Council (GMC) to change the way the pass mark is calculated for the Specialty Certificate Examinations (SCEs).

Until now, the pass mark for all SCEs has been calculated using a compromise of two standard setting methodologies, the Angoff and Hofstee methods. This standard setting practice differs from the methodology used in our other written examinations, MRCP(UK) Part 1 and Part 2 Written, which use statistical test equating rather the Angoff-Hofstee compromise. From September 2020, the pass standard in all SCEs will also be set using test equating; this will help to ensure greater consistency in standard setting methodology across all written examinations delivered by MRCP(UK).

Although the standard setting methodology is changing, the pass mark will still be based on the performance of UK trainees.

More information on statistical test equating and how it works can be found here.

Contact us

For further information regarding the SCEs please contact us.