Part 2 FRCOphth Written candidate tips
What is Part 2 FRCOphth Written?
- Written examination
- Must pass before end of ST7
- Maximum of four attempts
When and where can I sit the exam?
- Two sittings per year, usually June and November
- London, Sheffield, Glasgow, Cairo (Egypt), Chennai (India), Dubai (UAE), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
- 180 multiple choice questions, single best answer from four
- Sat as two 90 question papers
- Two hours for each paper
What to expect on the day
Arrive at least 15 minutes before with photographic ID. Registration will begin 10-15 minutes in advance of the scheduled examination start time. You will be allocated a desk with pencil, rubber, sharpener to use on the answer sheet for the MCQ. There is an hour between each paper for lunch. Lunch is not provided by the College.
Candidate advice for success in the FRCOphth Part 2 Written Exam
- When shall I start preparing?
Part 2 written and oral exams need adequate preparation, and must not be underestimated. A minimum of 3-4 months of revision is recommended for the Part 2 written exam, if not more. This is to give the candidate enough time to do adequate reading, followed by attempting questions to test and consolidate clinical knowledge. Do not assume that by being a senior trainee this exam will be a walk in the park. Recent exam reports have not shown that this is the case, and it may be linked to preparation.
This is the examination blueprint:
- Speak to 3-5 previous candidates early on
Every candidate has something valuable to add to your revision inventory. Furthermore, every candidate has a slightly different method of revision. It is therefore recommended that you speak to at least 3-5 candidates who have sat the exam over the past 12 months. Valuable advice you pick up from here and there may make your studying more exam-focused and help you get the few extra marks you need to pass the exam.
- Study hard but wisely
The FRCOphth Part 2 written exam examines clinical knowledge, based on the OST curriculum. It is important to remember that you are sitting the exam to become a better doctor. Some candidates are so focused on starting revision early to cover important personal objectives (e.g. reading entire oxford handbook of ophthalmology several times) that they do not have time to adequately read other essential resources (e.g. RCOphth guidelines) which would have helped them to obtain the extra marks needed to pass the exam.
- Questions, Questions, Questions!
One bit of advice you may consistently hear from previous candidates is the importance of doing as many practice questions as possible. This advice is indeed extremely important for consolidating knowledge and self-assessment. However, to make this exercise more beneficial, it is advised to do solid background reading first. This means it is more likely when reading an answer to a question, that you are not reading a clinical information for the first time, and hence are more likely to remember it. Do leave plenty of time for going through questions from an online question bank (QB) or a question textbook.
In February 2016, the Examinations Committee agreed to release a sample MCQ questions from both the Part 1 and Part 2 FRCOphth question banks.
Part 2 FRCOphth Written – Sample MCQs
Questions (43 total) selected from across the examination blueprint.
- How to use a question bank?
Every person has a particular preferred method for using a question bank, and it is advised that you use the method that suits you best. It is important, however, to have a system. It may be best to attempt a few hours of answering a question bank before you develop a tailored system. Below is an example approach but is by no means the only way to do it
- Set up an exam on the question bank
- Specify a number of questions (e.g. 40) for the examination session
- Use the same number of questions for future examinations to make the marks more comparable.
- Read the answer provided by the question bank on for every question, even if you answered the question correctly. There may be valuable clinical information in the answer stem, which you are more likely to remember because it is linked to a clinical scenario.
- Type or write down important clinical points which you think you may forget in a document which you can later re-visit. Try not to leave reading this document to the day before the exam!
- On the more rare occasion in which you think the question and the majority of the answer is very important, it maybe more time-efficient to mark the question (available on most question banks) so you can re-visit the question and answer later.
- If you feel that the question tested a topic (e.g. ocular ischaemic syndrome) in which your knowledge is particularly weak, it may be an idea (in addition to reading the answer stem) to either 1) read the topic straight away in an Ophthalmology textbook, or 2) note down the topic and read it after finishing the QB examination (preferably on the same day).
- Look at you’re the percentage of correctly answered questions for each specialty at intervals (e.g. every 100 questions). You are likely to observe a trend (e.g. weak knowledge in oculoplastics) which can help direct your reading. This is one advantage of starting to answer QBs early.
As a general guide, try to dedicate at least one month for questions. Remember that question banks may omit important clinical topics (e.g. DVLA vision requirements for driving) if they are not tailored to the FRCOphth Part 2 exam. Also remember that question banks may be out of date. For example, the QB may cover DVLA vision requirements for driving, but they may no longer be applicable if the guidelines have recently changed.
- Which online QB?
It is best to ask previous candidates about which QB they found most helpful before you commit your money to a particular QB. The RCOphth does not recommend any particular QB. Currently available online QB’s include:
If you have ample revision time, then answering all of the Ophthalmology questions is highly recommended. If time is a limiting factor, then consider going through the ‘high yield’ and the ‘very high yield questions’. The high yield questions come as part of the standard package. The very high yield questions can be purchased as an extra add on. There is also an add on for the FRCOphth Part 2 exam.
This questions bank contains more questions which are tailored to the FRCOphth Part 2 exam.
- Which questions textbook?
If you prefer to use a textbook rather an online question bank, the following are available:
- Review Question in Ophthlamology by Chern & Wright
- FRCOphth Part 2 MCQs by Tagal & Ling
- Which textbook shall I use for main reading?
Once again, it is very important to ask previous candidates for their experience with this. Essential reading includes:
- Oxford handbook of Ophthalmology, Denniston & Murray.
Excellent textbook offering concise information which covers a lot of what you need to know for the written and oral exams. However, do not expect to find all of what you need to know in this book. A major disadvantage is the rare use of images. Remember, however, that the majority of written part 2 exam questions do not use images.
- Clinical Ophthalmology: A Systematic Approach, Kanski & Bowling.
Once again an excellent textbook covering a lot of what you need to know. However, as you might expect no textbook covers everything you need to know. A major advantage of this textbook is its heavy use of images, making it particularly useful for the oral exam.
- Ophthalmology Secrets in Color, Gault & Vander.
If you prefer to read a textbook written in question and answer format, this may be the book for you.
Other textbooks which may provide expanded clinical information include:
- Basic and Clinical Science Course (AAO) books
- Ophthalmology, Yanoff & Duker.
- What resources are useful for covering other aspects of the curriculum?
To score well on the written exam, it is of paramount importance to go through the following:
- Royal College of Ophthalmologists Clinical Guidelines:
- Royal College of Ophthalmologists Ophthalmic Services guidance:
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidelines for topics relating to clinical ophthalmology:
- Vision requirements for driving:
- Do I need to read certain research studies?
Landmark clinical trials
This is much more frequently examined the Part 2 oral exam, however, questions do come up in the written exam. There is no single all you need to know resource. The following may be helpful:
If you prefer reading a textbook:
- Handbook of Clinical Trials in Ophthalmology by Gupta, Aggarwal & Goel.
It is important to remember that the resources above summarise important clinical trials. They are not intended to be an all you need to know resource. Furthermore, the most accurate source of information re a clinical trial’s findings is the actual published peer-reviewed study.
- Any other topics I should cover?
You should have a read of the curriculum to ensure topics not in Ophthalmology textbooks are covered.
MAKE SURE you read STATISTICS. You may not need to read about linear regression or multivariate ANOVA, but you do need to know basic statistics. E.g. mean, median, mode, p-value, standard deviation, sensitivity, specificity, skewed deviation, predictive values and different levels of evidence. There is a small chapter in the Oxford handbook of Ophthalmology covering evidence-based ophthalmology, vision in context, etc. Candidates often leave these important topics until the end, giving them less time than they deserve.
Pay special attention to clinical presentations which can cause blindness or death if missed. E.g. granulomatosis with polyangitis. This can also help you choose which rare topics to read about if you are short of time (e.g. optic nerve hypoplasia as it is associated with hypopituitarism).
- Any other useful resources?
This present ethical guidance in clinical scenario format. I.e. more reader friendly.
- Are there any courses I can attend for the Part 2 written exam?
Three days of lectures covering clinical ophthalmology and important clinical trials and College guidelines. The lectures course is for candidates sitting the written or oral exam. This if followed by a one day OSCE/Viva course.
There are other courses available nationally for the FRCOphth Part 1 exam and the Part 2 oral exam. If you know of any other courses for the Part 2 written exam which are open to candidates in the UK please email email@example.com so that they can be added here.
- Any other tips?
In the last few days before the exam, make sure you have left enough time to read the notes you have made, or questions you have marked in question banks. Make sure you have system to follow in the exam re questions you are unsure about. For example, some candidates note that when they re-visit questions in the written exam, they often change their answer to the wrong answer. Other candidates find it helpful to re-visit questions. Try to identify what strategy you will implement in the exam, to minimize anxiety on the day.
Also workout how many minutes you can spend on each question. It is better to have a go at answering all questions than to run out of time by over-spending time on challenging questions.
Good sleep is essential, and more important than extra hours of study at the expense of good sleep.
More exam tips can be found at:
This page has been published to offer advice to candidates from candidates. Provision of the above guidance and resources does not constitute RCOphth endorsement. The RCOphth accepts no responsibility for the content in any resources listed above.
What is the format of the examination?
There are three parts to the Standard examination - Basic, Optics & Refraction and Clinical Sciences.
- FICO Advanced examination
- Foundation Assessment
- ICO Exams App
Please refer to ''Types of Exams' on our website for full details.
How often do the examinations take place?
The Standard examinations are held once a year in April and the FICO Advanced examination is held once a year in October.
The Foundation Assessment and ICO App can be taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Please refer to the Dates in 'Types of Examinations' for further information. As future dates are confirmed they will appear on the website.
Can the Basic Science, Optics & Refraction and Clinical Sciences examinations be taken on the same day?
Yes, this is possible, although the ICO Examinations Committee advises against it. Statistics show that candidates who take both exams on the same day have a lower success rate than those who take the exams in separate years.
Where are the examinations held?
The examinations are held in the candidate's own country. Find a full list of locations at 'Find Your Exam Center' on the website.
What if my country does not have an affiliated coordinator and test center?
Please apply to the ICO Examination office stating where you would like to take the examination. The Examination office will try to organise for a co-ordinator in your local area or as close as possible to your desired location.
What is the examination fee?
Please contact the ICO Exams office for details on fee structure.
Is financial assistance available to those who cannot afford the ICO Examinations Fee?
Bursaries are available to candidates who are unable to afford the fee. Application forms can be obtained from and submitted to the ICO Examinations office. Application for a bursary have to be authorised by a co-ordinator or tutor in his/her own country.
How can I make payment for the Examination?
Payment can be made on line by either credit/debit card or you can make a payment directly into the ICO bank account. Account information can be obtained from the ICO Examinations office.
I need to withdraw my application to take an ICO Examination, what can I do?
Candidates wishing to withdraw their ICO Examinations applications must do in writing before the closing date by which applications are due, as shown on the ICO website. Refunds are not made to candidates who withdraw after the closing date.
Where extenuating circumstances prevent a candidtes from sitting the examination, supporting documentation must be provided stating the nature of those circumstances.
I have taken other ophthalmic examinations, is it possible to obtain a waiver for one or more parts of the ICO Examinations?
The following are standard exemptions:
- The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow exempt those who have passed the complete Basic Science Examination (including Optics & Refraction) from Part 1 FRCS
- The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh will exempt those who have passed the complete Basic Science Examination (including Optics & Refraction) from FRCSEd Ophth Part A.
- The Royal Cllege of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow will exmpt those who hae passed the Clinical Sciences Examination from FRCS Part 2 MCQ paper only.
Are the examination papers marked by hand?
All examination answer papers are marked using an automated scanner of the answer (OMR) sheets.
Can I use a dictionary and calculator?
Candidates are able to use a dictionary and calculator in the Examination room. No other electronic device may be used.
I need to change my test center. What can i do?
You can change your test center up until the closing date. Anyone wishing to change their test centre after this date should email the Examinations team.
I have misplaced my certificate. Can I obtain another copy?
If a certificate is lost, the ICO Examinations office can issue an authorised copy. This certificate will be embossed with the word "Copy." There will be a charge for administrative costs.
Please contact the ICO Examinations office for details.
Must I wait a certain amount of time between taking the Basic Science Examination and then sitting for the Clinical Sciences Examination?
There is no time limit between taking the Examinations