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Specialty Certificate Examinations FAQs

How do I withdraw from an SCE/ESE examination?

Candidates must submit the Withdrawal Request form below (or a letter or email will be accepted) to their administrative office as soon as possible, providing their name, RCP code number and date of birth.

Candidates who withdraw before the advertised closing date will be given a 90% refund of the exam fee, with 10% of the fee deducted as an administration charge.

Candidates who withdraw after the closing date will only be entitled to a 90% refund in exceptional circumstances providing documentary evidence can be supplied to support their request; any outstanding fees must be resolved in order to sit future MRCP(UK) examinations.

For further information please refer to section 3.10 of the MRCP(UK) Regulations/section 2.17 of the SCE Regulations for full details on our withdrawal process.

How is my examination or training fee spent by the Colleges?

Fees are also used to support the activities of the three colleges (RCP, RCPE and RCPSG) in educating doctors and improving standards in patient care in the UK and across the world. Each of these Colleges are charities, and also membership subscription organisations. It is important to note that none receive any direct funding from government, the commercial or pharmaceutical sector, or other external organisations. See the information from each of the colleges below for more.

Royal College of Physicians, London

Since its foundation in 1518 the RCP's focus has been to support doctors and ultimately improve patient care and reduce illness. We aim to drive improvement in the diagnosis of disease, the care of individual patients and the health of the whole population.

As a registered charity, our vision is for the best health and care for all. Income from all our activities focuses on educating physicians and supporting them to fulfil their potential, improving services and leading the prevention of ill health across communities, alongside influencing the way that health care is designed and delivered.

This translates into a wide range of support for our 40,000+ members and wider healthcare community. We run a broad programme of educational opportunities including leadership development programmes aimed at promoting greater diversity and those which are career specific. This is in addition to the medical streaming service RCP Player. For trainees specifically, our active Trainees' Committee provides a voice for junior doctors to shape our work programmes and our policy and campaigns approach. Other examples of support include our interview skills training course which hundreds of members have benefitted from to date and the MTI scheme which supports overseas doctors to work in the NHS.

We encourage trainees to thrive in their careers with leadership support such as the Chief Registrar programme and Emerging Women Leaders, and on the ground support from the RCP network of college tutors and associates. For aspiring doctors at the very start of their careers, we offer free medical student membership and heavily discounted membership for foundation doctors. Initiatives such as the Turner-Warwick lectures provide trainees the opportunity to showcase research at the national level, and our dedicated programme of trainee events includes the increasingly popular Call the Med Reg and Medicine careers showcase. Many of our awards and scholarships are focussed on trainee doctors, providing both research and development opportunities, promoting new personal skills and career advancement. We host two academic journals, Clinical Medicine and Future Healthcare Journal, in which publishing for members is free. Trainee members shape our conferences programme and new quality improvement website, Medical care – driving change.

Our ambition for the best possible health and care is worldwide. We have an active global membership programme which includes discounted membership and targeted education and events.

Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

We have a strong UK and international presence with Fellows and Members based in over 100 countries. Our Fellows and Members are the driving force of the College. As a membership organisation and a registered charity, all of our work is enriched by the voluntary leadership, contributions and expertise of our global community of healthcare professionals. Income received from subscriptions, examination fees, donations and events enables us to put in place the infrastructure to help promote and improve the quality of health and patient care worldwide.

We recognise the value and contribution of trainees and are here to support you at all stages of your career. The College offers free membership to medical students and colleagues within the first two years of training and to refugees who are currently living in the UK and who have trained as doctors or who began studying medicine in their home country. We also offer substantial discounts to those working less than full time (LTFT) and those who are on maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave.

The College offers a vast education programme of specialty and general medical education as well as regular medical and training updates. We offer international access to events and symposia – watch live or catch up on demand at a time to suit you through the Education Portal, which also offers online and blended learning modules. This includes access to free information hubs, such as our digital hub on drug-related harms.

We are committed to playing our part in international efforts to develop a coordinated strategy towards achieving equity of health status and healthcare provision globally. We facilitate partnerships to support training and education internationally and to enable delivery of high-quality, sustainable healthcare locally in countries including Malawi and Zambia. We maintain competitive rates for our international Fellows and Members and use a system of tiered reduced subscription rates based on the World Bank Development Indicators.

Our Trainees and Members' Committee is one of the UK's most active and influential trainee groups and it ensures that the views and experiences of trainees are represented both within the College and externally to policymakers. Together with our Associate Regional Adviser (ARA) network, this helps to bring physicianly communities together in all regions of the UK, developing a strong ecosystem of College support for our current and future Fellows and Members.

Our podcast website hosts a wide range of content including a regular series by our Trainees and Members' Committee which discusses a range of career and clinical topics, such as Less Than Full Time and Treatment escalation plans. These podcasts often feature topic experts – further cementing the College as a "one stop shop" for educational content and career advice. We also offer a fortnightly podcast from the Physicians' Gallery at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh which explores the history of medicine.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow was established in 1599 with the purpose of improving standards of medical and surgical care. It was then, and remains today, the only multi-disciplinary Royal College in the UK.

Working together as one College, with care and compassion which reflects our charitable status, we ensure our 15,000+ members are able to deliver the best outcomes for their patients and inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals. Our College is an international community with Fellows and Members in the United Kingdom and across the globe and we ensure that our education and training advance professional development.

We use our income to invest in and deliver on priorities that allow us to continue to fulfil our charitable purpose, including:

  • Developing and delivering an educational and assessment programme that responds to and meets the needs of our members and their patients
  • Engaging with and connecting our members here in the UK and across the world
  • Amplifying the voices of our members to help inform public policy and ultimately, improve patient safety

Our College has a vibrant and dedicated Trainees Committee, operating on a UK-wide basis, that works to promote the interests and wellbeing of trainees.

We sponsor a number of trainee events in hospitals through our dedicated Membership Engagement team and our network of UK Regional Advisors, which provides invaluable support to our trainees locally.  We run assimilation programmes, in conjunction with NES (NHS Education for Scotland) for international medical graduates, who are new to working in the UK and the NHS. Our College also has one of the most generous scholarships and awards schemes in the UK.

As the only multidisciplinary medical Royal College in the UK, we are uniquely placed to amplify the voices of our members and help shape discussions around the future of health.

How do I obtain my postnominal for success in my SCE?

In order to be eligible for the postnominal, all the following conditions need to be met:

  • Hold MRCP(UK) or a CCT in a GMC approved specialty
  • Complete the SCE
  • Complete training through an approved medical training programme in the UK in the same specialty as the SCE

If any of these conditions are not met, applicants will not be eligible for the postnominal. Once recommended for specialist registration through the CCT or Combined Programme CESR(CP) route, applicants will be granted the right to use the postnominal of the SCE.

The use of your post nominal will not be confirmed by JRCPTB upon completion of training. For more information on the SCE please click here.

What is the format of SCE exams?

SCEs are a computer-based exam that consists of two papers. You will sit Paper 1 in the morning and Paper 2 in the afternoon. Each paper will be 3 hours long and consist of 100 questions which will all be multiple choice, best of 5. There will be one-hour break between the papers.

I have missed the application period by a few days, can I still apply?

We don't accept late applications for any reason once the registration period has closed. Please see section 2.6 of the Specialty Certificate Examination Regulations.

Where can I take the Specialty Certificate Examination?

Each Specialty Certificate Examination will be held throughout the UK at Pearson VUE test centres and in a wide range of international venues.

Please note that we do not have set centres for international candidates. All SCEs are provided on a supply and demand basis. On applying to sit the examination, international candidates are given the choice to select a country and city/town where they would like to sit. We are then able to send this request to Pearson VUE who will either accommodate you in your first choice of examination centre, or allocate you to the next nearest available test centre.

*For candidates who request to sit examinations in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia): Please note that candidates will be allocated seats in either a male or female test centre where available. If we are not able to accommodate you in a segregated test centre we will communicate with you directly to arrange an alternative test venue

How often does each Specialty Certificate Examination take place?

Each Specialty Certificate Examination currently takes place once a year. Please see your Specialty page and the exams dates section for more details about when the SCE in your specialty will be held.

When will I receive my certificate?

Certificates will be dispatched to successful candidates within eight weeks of results being released. All certificates are sent via first class post within the UK, and via standard, non-trackable, airmail to all other destinations. Please ensure the postal address in your online account is up to date once results have been released, as this is the address that certificates will be posted.

How is the fee set?

The process for setting examination fees starts in the previous July (eg. July 2012 for fees running from January to December 2013). All the economic and political factors are taken into consideration at the July MRCP(UK) Management Board. Over the past few years it has been agreed that increases should be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for July which is published in August. There follows a period of consultation with trainees and our partners in the SCEs, the specialist societies. The fees are then formally set at the September MRCP(UK) Management Board and published in October.

For more information on the financial aspects of the SCEs please view the financial FAQs:

SCE financial FAQs

How soon after applying to sit the SCE in an international centre will I receive confirmation of my exam venue?

If you are sitting at centres outside the UK, Pearson VUE will source and book the seats on your behalf. You will only receive the details of the test centre once your booking has been confirmed, which should be at least three weeks before the exam. In the unlikely event that Pearson VUE are unable to deliver an SCE in the specific location requested, you will be offered an alternative location or a full refund of their examination fee.

Pearson VUE doesn't recognise my RCP Code. What should I do?

Pearson VUE recognises your RCP Code in a slightly different format than that which you are used to. If you have a 5-digit RCP Code, prefix it with RCP00. A candidate with the RCP Code 12345 would thus quote "RCP0012345" to Pearson VUE. If you have a 6-digit RCP Code, prefix it with RCP0. A candidate with the RCP Code 123456 would thus quote "RCP0123456" to Pearson VUE. If they still don't recognise your RCP Code, contact us.

Pearson VUE cannot locate my file when I try to book my test centre, why is this?

Pearson VUE operates booking windows for all of the SCEs, and these typically open one month after the registration period for applications opens. If you attempt to book your test centre before the booking window opens then you will receive this message. Once the booking window opens candidates will receive an email detailing how to book their test centre.

Please note the above applies to UK candidates only. International candidates will have bookings made on their behalf and do not need to make any booking personally.

What happens if I am late for my examination?

All candidates must arrive for the examination 30 minutes before the scheduled start time. If you arrive late you will not be allowed into the venue and will be unable to sit the examination. This means that you will not be entitled to a refund of the examination fee.

At what level am I able to take the Specialty Certificate Examination?

There are no restrictions on taking the SCEs, however UK trainees would usually take it during their penultimate year of higher specialist training and international candidates are advised to take the SCE at a similar or later point in their training/career. You must hold a M.D or MBBS degree before attempting a SCE exam. You do not need to have sat any MRCP(UK) examinations prior to taking an SCE.

Please see your Specialty page for further information.