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Exam Guide

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Paediatric Surgery Exam FAQs 

  1. Hemanshoo Thakkar

    When can I apply?

You need to have an Outcome 1 at ARCP at the level of ST6 prior to applying to sit the exam. For trainees that have their ARCP’s in September, the deadline to apply for the November sitting is usually at the end of August so you need to arrange your ARCP early with your programme director.

  1. How many sittings are their each year?

There are 2 for Part 1 (June and November) and 2 for Part 2 (March and September)

  1. When should I start revising?

Realistically it took me about a year to prepare! It may take you less time or longer but you will need to allocate some time on a regular basis to go through the curriculum.

  1. Do we get asked the whole curriculum?

Yes! The GMC are very clear on ensuring we are tested across the entire curriculum and so you can get asked questions on endocrine, cardiology, orthopaedics etc. Most of the specialty questions come up in Part 1 of the exam. Statistics also frequently makes an appearance in Part1.

Remember any aspect of the curriculum can and does come up in the clinical exam too.

  1. What should I prepare for Part 1?

I used Ashcraft’s as my main surgical textbook and made notes on the topics as per the curriculum. For oncology I used the Southampton textbook (Burge et al.) For the specialty topics e.g. cardiology, ENT and orthopaedics I used an appropriate Paediatric textbook (e.g. Lissauer & Clayden). I found the 2-part volume MCQ/EMQ textbook (Brice Antao) very helpful. Even though some of the answers are wrong the discussion behind them is excellent and it will give you an overall feel of the standard of the exam. There are also sample questions available on the JCIE website for both parts.

There are 2 parts to this exam. BOTH papers are SBA format now. The exam usually takes place in a driving test centre and so you simply use a touchscreen for the questions.

  1. What should I prepare for Part 2?

I found revising for this section quite different from that for Part 1, although it is worth re-reading something like Ashcraft to revise the less obvious material. A lot of my revision was centred on viva practice with colleagues and Consultants. I would strongly recommend revising in pairs/small group so that you can learn from each other. A lot of trainees who do not want to pursue Urology or Oncology find that part of the exam difficult. I would suggest identifying your weakness early on and working on it. For Oncology there are plenty of MDT meetings across the country in each designated centre and so if your hospital does not do Oncology there is no reason you cannot attend an MDT at another centre. I also attended the GOSH FRCS Viva Revision Course (currently running annually in January). The course was identical to the format of the exam and gives you an opportunity to gauge your standard several weeks before the exam.

Do familiarise yourself with the marking scheme when you start revising (see BAPS website exam guide section). For every marking event on Day 1 and 2, you can score anything from level 4 to 8. There are two examiners scoring you and so the maximum possible score on any particular scoring opportunity is 16. You need be averaging level 6 for you to pass and so you can make up marks quite easily if you underperform in any particular station.

  1. How does the Part 2 run on the day?

The exam is run over two days.

Day 1 

x3 15 minute vivas on a neonataloncology and urology case (there are no patients involved in this. You simply work through a case presented on an iPad like a CBD)

x3 15 minute Intermediate cases which currently has volunteer patients / parent. These are complex patients with multiple co-morbidities e.g. VACTERL association. You will usually be asked to take a brief history and again the examiner will then work through a set of questions. The theme of these patients can also be urology.

Day 2 

Vivas – 3 vivas – each having x8 5 minute questions  on Neonatal Urology/UrologyOncology/General/Endocrine and Neonates/Emergencies/Trauma

There is often a long wait between each set of 8 vivas so be prepared for the day and have plenty to eat/drink (catered for by JCIE).

The examiners are all very friendly and there were definitely no trick questions. The aim is to try and get you to demonstrate your management of the patient so you need to get the scoring parts quickly. Each viva is only 5 minutes long and it does pass very quickly so do practice plenty of mock stations before. Again the cases are usually based on clinical photographs including x-rays/scans so do also try and practice the terminology on how to describe something appropriately based on the modality e.g. US/MRI/CT etc.

  1. When will I get my results?

For Part 1 is usually takes 4 weeks and Part 2 usually about 1-2 weeks. You will be emailed them directly.

  1. Are there any prizes?

The BAPS Gold Medal is given to a candidate who demonstrates outstanding performance in Part 2 of the exam in any calendar year. It is not awarded every year as it is dependent on achieving above a particular score.

Mr. Hemanshoo Thakkar (Trainee Representative BAPS Education Committee)

May 2018

Updated by Mr Christopher Driver, Aberdeen

July 2023

Useful links



Previous Exam Guides

The Short and Sheth 12-week guide to success in the FRCS(Paed)