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A-Z Glossary



A core training programme that leads into higher specialty training in emergency medicine, general internal medicine, acute internal medicine and anaesthetics.

Administrative office

Place where examination applications are processed.

For all international examinations and the SCEs this is MRCP(UK) central office.

Angoff’s method

The standard of MRCP(UK) examinations is predetermined by a group of examiners (between 5 and 8), using Angoff’s method to criterion reference each question. The examiners are all physicians specialising in a relevant discipline. Each examiner allocates a score for each question, based on what proportion of just passing candidates they think should answer the item correctly. The judgements are all submitted in advance.

The examiners then meet and those with the highest and the lowest scores justify their reasons for selecting this score. Other examiners contribute views as appropriate. All examiners then rescore the item and a mean score is obtained. The highest and the lowest average marks are excluded, and the remaining scores averaged to give the trimmed mean score. This is the pure criterion-referenced pass mark. The final examination mark is determined using Hofstee’s method: this provides a compromise between the criterion-referenced mark discussed above, and norm referencing.

Application period

Time period for submitting your application to take an examination. Applications are not accepted before or after the specified dates for each examination, as published on the website. 


A positive process to provide constructive feedback on the performance of a student, doctor in training or a member of staff to chart their continuing progress, and to identify their development needs.


Annual Review of Competence Progression - a process which scrutinises the suitability of each doctor in training to progress to the next stage of, or to complete, a training programme.


The Annual Specialty Report submitted to the GMC. The ASR provides an essential specialty perspective, a national overview by specialty and sub-specialty, and is particularly useful for small specialties. The analysis of such data by the colleges and faculties ensures that specialty-specific issues and context are fully taken on board by the GMC.

Assessment period

For the MRCP(UK) examinations the academic year is divided up into three assessment periods, called diets. These are set out as follows for the year 2016: 2016/1 (first diet), 2016/2 (second diet), 2016/3 (third diet). 

Associate Specialist

A non-training grade, now closed to new entrants.


Best of five

In a multiple-choice examination, this means several of the choices may be plausible, but only one is the best answer. 



The PACES examination consists of five stations. Candidates will start at any one of the five stations, and then move around the carousel until they have completed the cycle.


Certificate of Completion of Training. This has been awarded by the GMC from April 2010 onwards, to doctors in training who satisfactorily complete their training in an approved specialty training programme and fulfil the approved curriculum.


The Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) is awarded by the GMC. It is given to doctors who have completed an approved UK training programme, and are eligible to join the UK register for general practice or a specialty.


Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration. Doctors who have knowledge, skills and experience in a specialty that is approved for the award of a CCT by the GMC but have gained these outside of an approved training programme may apply for entry onto the Specialist Register with a CESR in a CCT specialty.


The Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) is awarded by the GMC. It is given to doctors who have gained the necessary knowledge, skills and experience outside an approved UK training programme, but are eligible to apply for the UK specialist register.  The specialist register is a list of doctors who are legally entitled to take up honorary, substantive or fixed term consultant posts in the NHS.


Capabilities in Practice. Learning outcomes for internal medicine that collectively cover the key professional activities expected of a fully trained physician.

Clinical station

These parts of the PACES examination assess the candidate’s practical skills such as examining a patient and interpreting clinical signs. These are stations 1, 3 and 5.

Clinical supervisor

A clinical supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for overseeing the clinical work of a specified doctor in training and for providing constructive feedback on that work during a training placement. Some training schemes appoint an educational supervisor for each placement. The roles of clinical and educational supervisor may then be merged.


Core Medical Training (CMT) follows on from the foundation years (FY1 and FY2). It is a two-year programme covering general and acute internal medicine. So CMT1 doctors are in their first year of this programme and CMT2 doctors are in their second year. Most candidates attempt the MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written and PACES examinations while they are in CMT. 

College of entry

For MRCP(UK) PACES, candidates sitting in the UK must apply through one of the three colleges in the Federation. The colleges process the examination applications. For internaitonal PACES places this is MRCP(UK) central office. For the other examinations please see administrative office.

College tutors

College tutors represent their College in a local education provider. They oversee and co-ordinate the training provided in their LEP in the specialties concerned.

Combined programme

Doctors who have been appointed to a GMC-approved training programme above the usual entry point, and who successfully complete the rest of the programme, may apply for entry onto the Specialist Register with a CESR or entry onto the GP Register with a CEGPR through the combined programme (CESR(CP) or CEGPR(CP)).


Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans.  It provides a focus for those responsible for the strategic overview and operational delivery of postgraduate medical training in the four nations of the United Kingdom.


This is an additional form of written feedback for a PACES candidate, which has been completed by the examiners. It happens when there is a concern about poor performance overall, or about patient welfare. 


Continuing professional development - refers to any learning undertaken outside undergraduate education and postgraduate training which helps to maintain and improve performance. In the case of doctors, it covers the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours across all areas of medical practice. It includes all learning activities, both formal and informal, by which doctors maintain and develop the quality of their professional work.

Curriculum Advisory Group (CAG)

The GMC approves curricula and assessment systems for postgraduate medical specialties and subspecialties. Under the Quality Improvement Framework the GMC uses the expertise of a standing panel of associates to evaluate changes. The purpose of the CAG is to:

  1. scrutinise changes to specialty and sub-specialty curricula and assessment systems and evaluate them against the GMC’s curriculum standards
  2. scrutinise applications for approval of new subspecialties and evaluate them against the GMC’s protocol
  3. provide recommendations to the GMC on the conclusions of these evaluations.



The UK bodies that the GMC has authorised to manage GMC-approved training programmes and the training posts within them according to GMC standards. Postgraduate deans are responsible for managing doctors' progression through these training programmes. They are also generally the Responsible Officers responsible for making recommendations about revalidating the doctors in their local training programmes.

In England, the postgraduate dean and deanery functions sit within Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) from April 2013. In Northern Ireland the dean and deanery functions are held by the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Authority. In Scotland the postgraduate deans and deaneries are part of NHS Education for Scotland. In Wales the dean is part of the Wales Deanery (Postgraduate Medical and Dental School), University of Cardiff.


Educational supervisor

An educational supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for the overall supervision and management of the educational progress of a doctor in training during a training placement or series of placements (a rotation). The educational supervisor is responsible for the educational agreement of the doctor in training.

Eligibility period

MRCP(UK) has removed the previous regulation requiring candidates to pass the MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written and PACES examinations within 7 years of passing Part 1. This has now been superseded by the new limited attempts policy. Candidates will have a maximum of six attempts at any part of the MRCP(UK) examination and will not be able to continue if they reach this level without passing. Candidates who achieved a pass in Part 1 longer than 7 years ago can now continue to apply for Part 2 Written or PACES, provided they have had fewer than six attempts.


In the PACES examination, this is when a candidate has an interaction with a patient or a surrogate. Stations 2 and 5 involve one encounter, whereas stations 1, 3 and 4 have two encounters.

Examining board

There are Examining Boards for the MRCP(UK) Part 1, MRCP(UK) Part 2 Written and MRCP(UK) Part 2 Clinical (PACES) examinations. The PACES Examining Board is also known as the Clinical Examining Board (CEB). Each SCE also has an Examining Board. Their job is to ensure academic quality of the examinations, which includes approving the content and setting the pass mark. The Examining Boards also consider appeals, cases of academic or professional misconduct and complaints.

External assessor

An assessor appointed by JRCPTB to take part in a Penultimate Year Assessment (PYA). The EA should be from outside the deanery where the assessed doctor is training.


Form of faith

Once a candidate has passed all three parts of the MRCP(UK) Diploma, before membership can be awarded, the candidate must satisfactorily complete the Form of Faith. This confirms the doctor is in good professional standing, and agrees to uphold specified standards of professional development and conduct of the Royal Colleges of Physicians. MRCP(UK) Diplomas will not be issued until the signed Form of Faith has been received, processed and deemed to be satisfactory.

Foundation Programme

The Foundation Programme is a two-year (full time equivalent) generic training programme in the UK which forms the bridge between medical school and specialist/general practice training.

Foundation Years

In the UK, directly after graduation from medical school, the first step of internal medicine training is two years of foundation training in a UK hospital. Sometimes this term is shortened to FY1 or FY2 (for Foundation Year).

So an FY1 doctor is in their first postgraduate training post. Most UK candidates take their MRCP(UK) Part 1 examination during this period.



General Medical Council

Gold Guide

The Gold Guide (formally, A Reference Guide for Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK) sets out the arrangements for specialty registrar (StR) and GP registrar (GPR) training from June 2010.



Health Education England - provides national leadership and oversight on strategic planning and development of the health and public health workforce, and allocates education and training resources.

HEE local office

Health Education England local office - there are 13 teams situated across England responsible for the education, training and workforce planning for all NHS staff.



IELTS is the International English Language Testing System – an assessment of proficiency in the English language. Candidates do not have to pass the IELTS in order to take the MRCP(UK) examinations. However, we advise that in order to be sufficiently prepared to sit the exams, their English language ability should be equivalent to IELTS Level 7.5 in each module.

Incomplete status

An application is registered but is not complete, because all required stages of the application have not been fulfilled. These stages amy differ from exam to exam.

Inter Deanery Transfer (IDT)

The process that enables medical trainees who, due to an unforeseen and significant change in their circumstances, need to move from one region to another.

Find out more on the HEE website.



The Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) sets and maintains the standards for high quality UK medical training on behalf of the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of the UK.



Local appointment for service - this is a short-term appointment used to fill a service gap. Experience in such posts cannot count towards a CCT but may, in certain circumstances, be used as evidence for a CESR application.


Locum appointment for training - This is a short-term appointment to fill a gap in a training programme. The minimum duration is three months (full time equivalent) and a LAT should not normally last more than 12 months (full time equivalent). Providing the post and experience acquired can be seen to contribute demonstrably towards progress through a programme, the LAT can be used prospectively to count toward a CCT.


Local education provider - refers to the organisation responsible for the environment (usually clinical) in which training is taking place, whether in primary, secondary, community or academic placements. LEPs include health boards, NHS trusts, independent sector organisations and any other service providers that host and support medical students and doctors in training.


Local education and training board - Responsible for the training and education of NHS staff, both clinical and non-clinical, within their area. LETBs are committees of HEE and made up of representatives from local providers of NHS services and cover the whole of England.

Local trainee

An international trainee who is working and residing in a country.



Membership of the college of emergency medicine

MRCP(UK) Diploma

The diploma is the official certificate showing that you have successfully passed all three MRCP(UK) examinations. MRCP(UK) Diplomas are not issued until the signed Form of Faith has been received, processed and all the required criteria met.



NHS Education Scotland - a special health board responsible for supporting NHS services in Scotland by developing and delivering education and training for those who work in NHSScotland.



Out of Programme (OOP) means a period of time spent outside an approved UK training programme. 



The Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board of the GMC oversees the PLAB test. The test is the main route by which International Medical Graduates demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to practise medicine in the UK.

Primary Medical Qualification

For UK graduates, the Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) is a first medical degree that is recognised by the GMC. The GMC provides a list of accepted PMQs.

For doctors who gained a medical degree outside the UK, the university or medical school where the PMQ was taken must be on the World Health Organisation’s World Directory of Medical Schools. You must provide evidence of your PMQ when applying to take Part 1.


A formal alignment or rotation of placements which together comprise a programme of training in a given specialty or sub-specialty. A programme may either deliver the totality of the curriculum though linked stages in an entirety to CCT, or the programme may deliver different component elements of the approved curriculum. The GMC approves programmes of training in all specialties, which are based on a particular geographical area (which could cover one or more deaneries). They are managed by a training programme director (TPD) or their equivalent. A programme is not a personal programme undertaken by a particular doctor in training.


A proposer is an educational supervisor or supervising consultant who is responsible for a candidate’s training.


Penultimate year assessment - A summative assessment for doctors in training which occurs approximately 12–18 months before their CCT date at which targets are set and a final CCT date is agreed.



Quality improvement framework - the GMC’s approach to the regulation of medical education and training and the name of the document which describes the approach. This has four elements: Approval against standards; Shared evidence; Visits including checks; and Responses to concerns.

Quality assurance

The QA of medical education and training in the UK includes all the policies, standards, systems and processes in place to maintain and enhance quality. The GMC carries out systematic activities to assure the public and patients that medical education and training meets the required standards. This activity is carried out within the principles of better regulation as described in the GMC's Quality Improvement Framework.


Reflective practice

A means by which doctors in training can develop a greater self-awareness about the nature and impact of their performance. This creates opportunities for professional growth and development.

Registered status

This is when an exam application has been made and receipt is acknowledged by the administrative office.


SAS doctors

Doctors that are not in training grades and nor are they consultants or GPs. There is some variation in what SAS is understood to cover but the BMA uses the acronym to stand for Staff grade doctors, Associate Specialists and Specialty Doctors. The Staff grade and the Associate Specialist grade are now closed to new entrants.

Special arrangements

These are requests concerning arrangements on exam day such as visa, access requirements and medical issues. This includes any reasonable adjustments you may require which covers physical disability, specific learning disability or any other condition that you believe may disadvantage you.


Specialist Registrar - the title given to doctors in training who were appointed into specialist training prior to 2007. These appointments followed completion of a period as an SHO.


Specialty training posts are specific to the UK training system and do not affect applications for international trainees. They are NHS training posts in specific specialties following on from core medical training (CMT). For specialties related to internal medicine, the grade runs from ST3 (year 3 of specialty training) up to ST6 (year 6 of specialty training). Most UK trainees take the SCE when they are nearing their final year of specialty training.

Staff grade

A non-training grade, now closed to new entrants. Also see SAS doctors.


Specialty Registrar - A doctor on a specialty training programme appointed since August 2007. Specialty training levels are referred to as ST1, ST2, ST3 etc and correlate to a year of full-time training.


In some parts of the PACES examinations, the patient’s role is played by an actor, healthcare professional or volunteer - this is a surrogate.


Talking station

Stations 2 and 4 are the parts of the PACES examination that test the candidate’s communication skills during an interaction with a patient or surrogate - the talking stations. Practical, clinical skills are not assessed in these stations. 


Training programme director - usually an experienced consultant who is selected and resourced to manage a postgraduate training programme, which includes a number of doctors in training and their respective trainers, on behalf of the deanery.

Trainee status

The candidate’s current stage of training, in the country where he or she is training or working

Training number

This is the reference number allocated to doctors in training by the postgraduate deanery. Each is allocated a single training number that is either a National Training Number (NTN) or a Deanery Reference Number (DRN).