Examination and Training FAQs

Last updated 4 June 2020

Please note: Should you have any questions that are not addressed below, or you need to contact the College about any Education and Training matters, please email bea@rcpa.edu.au

Are the examinations proceeding as scheduled?
No, the RCPA Examinations will be deferred until the fourth quarter of the year. This includes the BPS Examination. The College will endeavour to notify candidates of specific dates as soon as possible. In the meantime, we can advise that 2020 Examinations will be facilitated from the beginning of October through to mid-December.

When will the examinations be rescheduled to?
We understand your concern and are discussing with the relevant stakeholders to assess the best possible outcome. We will let candidates know as soon as possible based on the resources required for the examinations.

When will the webinar be rescheduled to?
The webinar will now be held on 30 September 2020.

If I cannot attend the rescheduled BPS examination in 2020, can I apply for a full refund?
If you are unable to sit the exam in 2020, then you can withdraw your application and the College will hold your fee until 2021.

If you choose not to sit the examination and would like a refund, the College will organise this, on request.

Revised 2020 Examination Timetables:
- Pathology Examination Timetable
- Faculties Examination Timetable

I have safety concerns about attending examinations in Sydney. Has the College considered the safety of examination candidates?
The College is looking at contingency plans and the most appropriate ways to manage the evolving situation as per COVID-19 government guidelines. The College will communicate with all trainees as to the 2020 examination timetable, most suitable arrangements and possible changes as appropriate and when required.

I will now have the required training time to sit the examination at the end of 2020. Can I apply to sit examinations?
The College will not be accepting any further examination applications in 2020.

If candidates are unable to sit examinations in the fourth quarter of 2020, will the College offer full refunds?
If you would like to withdraw from your examination, you will have the opportunity for the College to hold your fee until 2021 or you may choose a full refund, on request.

What will happen to my examination fee if I decide to defer my examination to 2021?
The College will hold your examination fee to 2021, however, you will need to submit another examination application for 2021 to indicate your intention to sit.

I will no longer be in a laboratory position at the time of examination. What should I do?
If you have guaranteed employment in a laboratory position up to August 2020, then you may be eligible to sit.

I have planned deferment due to maternity leave in the last quarter and I will be sitting an examination. What fee will I be required to pay?
Trainees will be required to pay a pro-rata training fee. Please contact the College to arrange this payment.

I will no longer be in a training position at the time of the new scheduled examinations. Will I be able to sit the postponed examinations?
The College will consider this, on request, on a case by case basis.

Will it be possible for Haematology and Microbiology Joint Trainees to sit Part I and Part II in their final year of training?
Yes, the College has considered this in the revised timetabling. However, the Part 1 and Part II oral examinations will be on consecutive days.

Will Trainees in their final year of training be offered repeats for all disciplines? When will the repeats be held?
Repeat examinations will be offered as specified in the Trainee Handbooks for each discipline. Refer to the examination calendar for the proposed dates of repeat examinations for eligible candidates.
It is anticipated that candidates eligible to repeat an oral examination will be offered the repeat oral examination later the same day.

What will the gap be between the slide/phase 1 and oral/phase II examinations?
Please refer to the rescheduled examination timetable when available. As far as possible, the sequence of rescheduled examinations will mirror the normal examination timetable.

Will examinations be rescheduled again?
The College will continue to closely monitor the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and it may be necessary to make further changes to our examination schedule later in the year. Should this eventuate, the College will provide as much notice as is feasible.

What if I am not available to sit my examination on the revised scheduled date?
The College appreciates and regrets that the rescheduled examination timetable might make it impossible for some trainees to sit the examinations. If you can’t sit the examination on the revised scheduled date, you can defer until 2021 without penalty.

When will the examination timetable be available for 2021?
We anticipate the timetable will be available early November 2020.

When will the pre-exam supervisor reports now be due?
Pre-exam supervisor reports will be due on 15 July 2020, as per the normal schedule.

I have been pulled out of a laboratory position and seconded into a clinical role. Will this count as laboratory training time?
The College will not disadvantage Trainees during this difficult time. Training time will likely need to be assessed on an individual basis, however there will not be any restriction in relation to sitting exams or submission of assessments based on training time requirements. This will need to be monitored closely over the anticipated 6 month period of disruption i.e. if the situation continues for longer than this.

I am no longer able to attend meetings, as my hospital has cancelled all meetings. Will the College consider this when assessing portfolio requirements?
See point two above. We recommend that you attend relevant virtual meetings where possible.

Will I be offered a training position for 2021 before my examination results are known?
The College is independent to employment matters and each state and territory are aware of the circumstances. Please contact your local network coordinator/health district.

How will it affect my employment in 2021 if I fail an examination?
Your current employers and training networks will allow for a certain rate of failure, all training time will be considered and accredited subject to satisfactory supervisor report submission.

If I exceed the 8 week leave allowance, will my training still be accredited?
Please continue to use your leave allowance of 8 weeks and contact the College if you exceed this. The College will consider these matters on a case by case basis. Time in training will be accredited
NB Joint Trainees are advised to contact the RACP for additional information.

I am working a 60-hour week. Will this be counted towards my training time?
No, the College counts weeks, not hours in its calculation of training time.

I am an Overseas Trained Specialist Trainee. How will the delay in examinations affect my AHPRA registration? What happens if my AHPRA registration expires and I have not completed any exams to demonstrate progress? Will the College send a letter of support to AHPRA on my behalf?
Yes, the College understands that the change in examination dates will affect all Trainees. The College will support Trainees and liaise with AHPRA during this difficult time.

Does the College have any protection guidelines for AP and FP Trainees ?
Please read: RCPA Advice to Anatomical Pathology (AP) and Forensic Pathology (FP) Fellows and Trainees - April2020

When will I need to submit my Project?
Project submission dates will largely remain the same as per the discipline specific Trainee Handbooks.

Discipline Due Date (Current) Item
Haematology 3-Jul Haematology Part II Dissertations
Anatomical Pathology 10-Jul Anatomical Pathology PPD (only applicable for candidates in final year of training)
Forensic Pathology 10-Jul Forensic Pathology Part II Casebooks
Microbiology 17-Jul Microbiology Part II Projects
Genetic Pathology 17-Jul Genetic Pathology Part II Research Project




Immunology Part II Dissertation (Marking facilitated by RACP)


Chemical Pathology 30-Sep Chemical Pathology Written Assignments

Forensic Pathology Trainees will be provided with the opportunity to present their Trainee Cases to a panel of Examiners on 8 April 2020 from 2pm – 4.30pm The College understands that Trainees may be impacted by COVID-19 and that some Trainees may not be able to submit projects by the due date. To request an extension, please contact the College via bea@rcpa.edu.au

Many Trainees’ access to normal laboratory activities is being severely disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, affecting their ability to carry out laboratory-based project/dissertation requirements. Can the due dates be deferred?

  • The College understands that Trainees may be impacted by COVID-19 and that some Trainees may not be able to submit projects by the due date. To request an extension, please contact the College via bea@rcpa.edu.au Please note that examiners will require 6 weeks for project marking and Trainees will need to recognise that this may impact Fellowship.
  • Final year Microbiology Trainees may be advised to change projects if the planned project requires extensive PCR.

I was scheduled to attend Pathology Update in 2020. Can I still count my poster/ oral presentation as part of curriculum requirements?
Yes, subject to the requirements as outlined in the Discipline specific Trainee Handbooks https://www.rcpa.edu.au/Trainees/Curriculum

I am an Anatomical Pathology trainee and have submitted a poster for Pathology Update, will it still count as part of my PPD?
All Anatomical Pathology trainee posters accepted by, and prepared for, Pathology Update 2020 will be accepted for PPD purposes if the following are provided:

  • Email of acceptance of poster by conference organisers.
  • A4 copy of the poster.
  • Declaration from Trainee Handbook signed by supervisor and trainee. Posters prepared by Trainees in non-AP disciplines may be counted for portfolio purposes.

My oral presentation was accepted for Pathology Update in 2020. Can I still use it to satisfy the curriculum requirements in my discipline?
The College will accept trainees’ planned oral presentations. Please provide the full PowerPoint presentation with audio (audio optional). Trainees who are not in their final year may have an opportunity to present in 2021.

My oral presentation was selected for the DS Nelson/QAP prize. Can I still use it to satisfy the curriculum requirements in my discipline?
Trainee oral presentations, including those for the RCPA BEA DS Nelson prize and RCPA Quality Assurance Program prize will be recognised as oral presentations at an International conference. Trainees are requested to provide a PowerPoint presentation with audio (audio optional) for uploading to the Education section of the RCPA College website. This is in addition to including a PowerPoint in your PPD / scholarship submission.

‘Meet the Chief Examiner’ talks 
These are now available on the RCPA College website for the following Disciplines:
- Anatomical Pathology
- Chemical Pathology
- Genetic Pathology
- Microbiology

The College will notify Trainees as soon as the ‘Meet the Chief Examiner’ talks are available for:
- Forensic Pathology
- Haematology, and
- Immunopathology

I was selected to do an oral presentation at the IAP conference? Will this be accepted as part of my PPD?
Oral presentations prepared for the International Academy of Pathology Conference in Brisbane in 2020 will be accepted for PPD purposes if the following are provided;

  • Email of acceptance of oral presentation by either the session convenor of the conference organisers.
  • PowerPoint presentation with audio (audio optional) for uploading to the Education section of the RCPA College website. This is in addition to including a PowerPoint in your PPD / scholarship submission.
  • Email from session convenor confirming approval of the PowerPoint presentation.
  • Declaration from Trainee Handbook signed by supervisor and trainee.


Re: Poster / Abstract submissions

  • Given that the 2020 IAP Conference has been cancelled, no posters proposed for the IAP will be accepted. This includes published poster abstracts. Final year AP Trainees may contact the College to discuss alternative options.

Can I apply for 2021 jobs before I have completed my examinations?
Yes. However, please note that the College is independent from employment matters. Please contact your local Network Coordinator/ Health District for more information.

Can I apply for Fellowship of the College directly after I have completed my examinations?
Yes, if you have satisfied all other training and assessment requirements.

How long will it take to process my Fellowship application?
It will take up to 4 weeks for the College to process Fellowship applications. However, there may be further delays for AHPRA processing.

All working from home arrangements are your Employer’s responsibility and we recommend you liaise with your supervisor to devise an appropriate workplan. The plan should focus on study and research related to RCPA training requirements and/or JSAC training requirements for dual-specialty trainees. Proposed workplans should be agreed to and overseen by your current supervisor and be assessed by your Supervisor upon your return to work.

Suggested Working from Home activities for Trainees in self-isolation

The College recognises and understands the impact, and importance of the decisions made. The College would like to acknowledge that there is significant planning around examinations and that they are a source of stress and anxiety to you and your families. The decision to defer exams, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic was not made lightly. You will be notified of the examination dates as soon as possible.

In the meantime, College staff are here to support you:
Please contact the College Education Advisors Dr Kathy Robinson (Kathyr@rcpa.edu.au) or Ms Teresa Stuart (teresas@rcpa.edu.au) to discuss the impacts of rescheduling you and your family.
External support services are also available to our Trainees here.

Please note: Should you have any questions that are not addressed, or you need to contact the College about any Education and Training matters, please email bea@rcpa.edu.au

AMA Advocacy to support doctors in training during the Covid 19 response

Strategies for responding to stress experienced by hospital staff

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