Examination and Training FAQs

Last updated 20 October 2021


2021 Training Matters

Welcome to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) and congratulations to new trainees on the commencement of their Pathology Traineeship.

Throughout your Training Program, there are a number of important stages, requirements, processes and deadlines that you will need to be aware of and fulfil.  To assist, some of the most important details and weblinks to support your journey over the coming year are listed below.

First steps

Useful resources

Ongoing administrative requirements

NB Joint Trainees submit their Annual Registration and Supervisor Reports to the RACP. These are forwarded to the RCPA.

The appropriate contact details are contained within the links. There is, of course, other information that you will need to reference throughout your training program and the College will be in contact with you in due course regarding details at the appropriate time.

Should you not be able to find answers to your questions here or require clarification, please do not hesitate to contact the College bea@rcpa.edu.au

2021 Examinations

The College appreciates that these continue to present as challenging times for all.

The Board of Education and Assessment (BEA) met on Thursday 18 February 2021 to discuss and finalise arrangements for the 2021 examinations, including dates and locations. The Board of Directors (BOD) met on 22 February 2021 and approved the BEA decisions.

In summary, all College examinations in 2021 will be held in local training jurisdictions. No candidate is required to travel either interstate or internationally to attend an examination.

The College will contact candidates in due course with specific details and examination arrangements. NB The dates remain as per the published 2021 Examination Timetable which can be found below. Please be assured that the quality and integrity of all examinations remains unchanged.

Please note: Should you have any questions that are not addressed here or you need to contact the College, please e email:

Education and Training queries                  bea@rcpa.edu.au

Examination related queries                       exams@rcpa.edu.au

2021 Examination Timetables:

Pathology Timetable

Faculty of Science Timetable

NPAAC 2021 Examination Dates


When will my results be available?
For full details and key dates, please refer to the College Examinations Results Policy here
NB Candidates are encouraged to read the Policy thoroughly in order to be familiar with the process and timing of examination results.

Current government advice regarding travel to examinations for trainees and attendees
The health, safety and wellbeing of all examination attendees is paramount to the RCPA. The College will continue to monitor the situation relating to COVID-19 and will provide updated advice as soon as is practicable.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please email exams@rcpa.edu.au as a priority and prior to your scheduled examination.

What if I am required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with the Diagnosed persons and Close Contacts Direction?
Any candidate who is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with the Diagnosed persons and Close Contacts Direction, must inform the College with immediate effect via exams@rcpa.edu.au and by submitting a special consideration application with supporting evidence.

Where a candidate is unable to attend a Cliftons or other exam venue for the above reasons, the College will do its best to support the Trainee to sit the exam from their home. However, in some instances, this may not be possible based on the type of examination and if there is insufficient notice provided. Should this be the case, the Trainee will be asked to defer until 2022 without financial penalty.


I have safety concerns about attending for examinations. Has the College considered the safety of examination candidates?
The College will manage examinations in relation to the evolving situation, as per respective COVID-19 Government guidelines. To this end, the College will ensure that all approved venues have a COVID Safe Plan in place, which may include temperature checks on arrival to the exam, the availability of hand sanitiser and face masks in all venues, appropriate hygiene and social distancing where required.

What if I am sick just prior to, or on the day of the exam?
If you are unwell you will not be permitted to attend and sit for examination. Candidates meeting requirements for self-isolation or quarantine cannot attend for examination.

Candidates in this position may defer until 2022 without penalty.
All candidates presenting for examination will be required to complete and sign a Self-Declaration Form to confirm that they are fit and well to be examined.

I am scheduled to sit an oral examination. How will this work?
All oral examinations will take place via ZOOM or MS Teams from centralised and approved venues. Technical support will be available at centralised venues. Candidates will be offered mock oral exam opportunities prior to the exam.

How will the College ensure the integrity of the oral examination process?
All Candidates will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Technical support will be available at all centralised venues to support confidentiality and integrity of oral examinations.

I plan to sit an examination during my period of maternity leave
Such candidates will be required to pay a pro-rata training fee. Please contact the College to arrange this payment.

Will candidates in their final year of training be offered repeat examinations? When will the repeats be held?
Repeat examinations will be offered as specified in the Trainee Handbooks. Refer to the 2021 Pathology Examination Timetable for the dates of repeat examinations for eligible candidates.

Will there be any changes to the published examination timetable?
The College will closely monitor the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It may be necessary to make changes to our examination arrangements. Should this eventuate, the College will provide as much notice as is feasible.

2021 BPS information can be found here: https://www.rcpa.edu.au/Education/Basic-Pathological-Sciences

When will the 2021 BPS Mock Exam be available?
The on-line mock exam will be available from Friday 19 February 2021. All registered BPS exam candidates have been granted access. The mock exam will remain open until the day of the BPS 2021 exam.

When will the webinar take place?
The webinar will be held on Tuesday 16 March 2021 at 6.30pm AEDT. A recording of the webinar will be made available here https://www.rcpa.edu.au/Education/Basic-Pathological-Sciences/BPS-Seminar

If I cannot attend the BPS examination in 2021, can I apply for a full refund?
If you are unable to sit the exam in 2021 due to COVID, you can withdraw your application and the College will hold your fee until 2022.

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

When are pre-exam supervisor reports due?
Pre-exam supervisor reports will be due on 9 July 2021, as per the normal schedule.

My hospital has cancelled all face-to-face meetings. Will the College consider this when assessing portfolio requirements?
The College recommends that you attend relevant virtual meetings where possible.

If I exceed the 8 week leave allowance, due to quarantine requirements, will my training still be accredited?
Please 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.

When do I need to submit my Project
Project submission dates are specified in the discipline specific Trainee Handbooks.

Discipline Due Date (Current) Item
Haematology 1-Jul Haematology Part II Dissertations
Anatomical Pathology 9-Jul Anatomical Pathology PPD (only applicable for candidates in final year of training)
Forensic Pathology 9-Jul Forensic Pathology Part II Casebooks
Microbiology 16-Jul Microbiology Part II Projects
Genetic Pathology 16-Jul Genetic Pathology Part II Research Project
Immunopathology 6-SEP Immunology Part II dissertation (marking facilitated by RACP)
Chemical Pathology 30-Sep Chemical Pathology Written Assignments

To request an extension, please contact the College at bea@rcpa.edu.au

Some trainees’ access to normal laboratory activities may be disrupted by COVID-19 affecting their ability to carry out laboratory-based project/dissertation requirements. Can the due dates be deferred?

  • If COVID-19 disruptions have caused difficulties in completing a Project by the due date, request an extension via bea@rcpa.edu.au Trainees should recognise that examiners require 6 weeks for project marking and late submission may impact on the date of being awarded Fellowship.
  • Final year Microbiology trainees may be advised to change Projects if the planned Project requires extensive PCR.

I am scheduled to attend Pathology Update in 2021. If I am unable to attend, can I still count my poster/ oral presentation as part of curriculum requirements?
Trainees are expected to attend, either face-to-face or on-line, to present their e-posters.

I am an Anatomical Pathology trainee and have submitted an e- Poster/s for Pathology Update and/or the International Academy of Pathology (IAP) Meeting. Will this count as part of my PPD?
All Anatomical Pathology trainee posters accepted by, and prepared for, and accepted by, Pathology Update 2021, or accepted for presentation at the IAP will be accepted for PPD purposes if the following are provided:

  • Email of acceptance of poster by conference organisers.
  • A4 copy of the e-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 has been accepted for Pathology Update in 2021. If I attend on-line, can I still use it to satisfy the curriculum requirements in my discipline?
The College will accept trainees’ on-line oral presentations. Please provide the full PowerPoint presentation

My oral presentation has been selected for the DS Nelson/QAP prize in 2021. If I am present on-line can I 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.

My oral presentation was selected for the DS Nelson/QAP prize in 2020. If I am unable to attend either on-line or face-to-face in 2021, 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 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 will be made available on the RCPA College website in due course for the following disciplines and following the February and March Webinars:

  • Anatomical Pathology (no Webinar)
  • Immunopathology
  • Chemical Pathology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Genetic Pathology
  • Haematology
  • Microbiology

Trainees will also have an opportunity to attend the ‘Meet the Chief Examiner’ talks at the 2021 Pathology Update.

I have been selected to do a virtual 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 2021 will be accepted for PPD purposes if the following are provided;

  • Email of acceptance of oral presentation by either the session convenor or the conference organisers
  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Declaration from Trainee Handbook signed by supervisor and trainee.

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 or CJCT requirements for joint 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

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.

College staff are here to support you:
In the event of COVID-related disruptions, College Education Advisors Dr Kathy Robinson (kathyr@rcpa.edu.au) or Ms Teresa Stuart (teresas@rcpa.edu.au) to discuss the impacts of on 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 please use these email addresses

Education and training matters bea@rcpa.edu.au

Examination specific matters exams@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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