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PACES exams update: 25 May 2021

UK Provisional PACES 2021/2 In January 2021 the decision was taken to delay the start of the upcoming PACES diet.

UK Provisional PACES 2021/2

In January 2021 the decision was taken to delay the start of the upcoming PACES diet. The diet should have commenced in early February but was delayed until 13th of March 2021. As a result, the first diet of 2021 is running later into the year and there is a short turnaround time before the second diet commences. We have previously documented the difficulties in providing results within our customary 10 working days during the Covid pandemic. This is due to delays in the return of remote examiner mark sheets and subsequent forwarding of mark sheets to central office. MRCP staff at central office are currently working primarily from home and we therefore batch mark sheets to avoid multiple journeys and to make the process more efficient. Currently, results are being released within 6 weeks (mean 4.5).

Unfortunately, the delay in the release of results means that a number of candidates holding provisional places may find out at short notice that they need to sit PACES again in diet 2. We will try to minimise the number of candidates affected by this and will aim to give 4 weeks-notice between the release of results and the repeat exam date. The College exam teams continue to work hard on minimising this issue.

This is not always possible however as we rely on our host examiners to provide us with dates when they can host the exam taking into account their busy clinical diaries and securing availability in their examination centre. As a result, some candidates may be offered a provisional place which may be 1-2 weeks after they have received results from their failed attempt. Whilst this is not ideal, it is likely to affect only a small number of candidates and the process is not dissimilar to Fast Track places which we offered pre-COVID. Our aim since restarting UK PACES during COVID has always been to optimise the number of places available to UK trainees and we believe this compromise is reasonable in the circumstances.

Candidates who do not wish to take up their provisional place because of short notice can withdraw from the examination and will be placed in priority group 1 for the 3rd diet of 2021.

Short Notice UK PACES Places

Historical data suggests that in the region of 65% of candidates who apply for a provisional UK PACES place will be successful in passing the exam and will subsequently not require their provisional PACES place. This will potentially leave a number of gaps which we are keen to fill. We plan to offer these additional places to prospective UK PACES candidates on a first come, first served with the following principles, bearing in mind that these will become available only at quite short notice:

  • Spaces will be released in a staged manner (via a news item including a new survey link each week).
  • Survey will open for 24 -48 hours and then be closed.
  • We can only consider UK candidates who were categorised as 1-4 following their application for the 2021/2 diet.
  • All communications will make clear that spaces are allocated on a provisional basis only and may subsequently be withdrawn.
  • Successful candidates will be contacted within 24 hours of the survey closing.
  • Unsuccessful candidates will not be contacted.

International PACES

Delivery of international PACES places remains challenging due to the pandemic with hospital facilities too busy to accommodate clinical exams and major travel restrictions. Despite this, over 300 international candidates sat PACES in the first diet of 2021. The summer diet remains difficult with our Indian exam centres under extreme pressure due to Covid. Exams in Egypt and Singapore have been postponed by 1 month but should run in July/August. The Federation are looking at new models of delivery to enable international delivery to increase in the autumn.


We are always keen on feedback. If you have specific queries relating to your exam day please contact the exams office at your College of entry.

For other general queries or suggestions please email: