Basic Pathological Sciences

The BPS Examination and its preparation is a worthy endeavour for any medical student or doctor. Candidates undertaking this examination will find an improved understanding and appreciation for the practice of pathology and the pathological causes of disease. Pathology touches all medical specialties, and solid knowledge in this area produces a well-rounded health practitioner, no matter your chosen career. Medicine is Pathology.

Why is the Basic Pathological Sciences (BPS) examination important?

The Basic Pathological Sciences (BPS) examination is a 2.5 hour paper of 100 multiple choice questions. The syllabus is available here and primarily based on the first 11 chapters of Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, by Vinay Kumar, Abul K. Abbas, Jon C. Aster (9th edition, professional version, 2015 , Elsevier). The syllabus contains up-to-date references which supplement the material in the text and are examinable.

The exam ensures that all doctors undertaking the RCPA training program can demonstrate at an early stage of training that they have adequate foundation knowledge to equip them for specific training in their chosen discipline.

The examination is not an entry requirement for the RCPA training program, nor a prerequisite for sitting the Part I examination, however, a pass in this examination (or exemption) must be achieved before proceeding to the RCPA’s discipline specific Part II examinations. It is highly recommended to take the BPS examination as early as possible in training. We encourage prospective trainees to take the examination before commencing training, as it will reinforce their previous studies in pathology at medical school.

The examination assists in preparation for training and enables trainees to proceed more rapidly with specific discipline training in pathology. It also provides an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to a career in pathology. A reasonable ‘core knowledge’ in pathology is essential for a successful start in the training program and satisfactory progress.

Why sit the BPS Exam as a doctor, dentist, or student?

The BPS exam is open to registered RCPA Trainees, prevocational doctors and medical students. The exam is also available to dentists and dental students wishing to improve and solidify their pathology knowledge. Taking the BPS exam will:

  • Demonstrate the prospective Trainee has made a commitment to a career in pathology
  • Help Trainees prepare for training and enable them to proceed more rapidly with specific discipline training in pathology. The ‘core knowledge’ developed studying for the BPS exam is essential for a successful start and progress into the RCPA training program
  • Help doctors and students revise, reinforce and build upon core pathology knowledge no matter their chosen specialty
  • be an impressive and valuable addition to any CV that indicates an interest and achievement in pathological sciences

Students can take the examination for a substantially reduced fee.

Past BPS exam candidates have spoken of how preparation and sitting the exam has assisted in expanding their knowledge and confidence around the subject of basic pathology. Even candidates who do not go on to train with the RCPA comment on its value.

Great exam! Enabled us to revise everything again.’ - 2018 BPS Exam Candidate

A very useful start for pathology training’ - 2017 BPS Exam Candidate

How to apply: Please refer to this page for BPS examination application information and dates.


BPS Registration and Information

Information on the BPS Exam including application forms and list of candidates' venues and times.

Find Out More

BPS Resources

A collection of BPS Resources to support studying for the BPS exam.

Find Out More

BPS Online Mock Exam

Information on BPS Online Mock Exam including costs, times and registration details.

Find Out More

BPS Webinar

Information on the BPS Webinar

Find Out More

Page last updated:

Copyright © 2021 RCPA. All rights reserved.