Issue 1 • 2021

RACP examinations in a COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our approach to exams in 2020. Many exams were postponed or changed to accommodate the uncertainty of the new COVID-19 world.
Candidate, examiner and patient safety has been at the forefront of our decisions and planning.
Our various exam committees, staff and the COVID-19 Examinations Advisory Group have worked collectively to support trainees through their exams and to progress through their training.
Going virtual We increased the use of technology in our exams to deliver them in a COVID-safe way. This meant we were able to run exams for candidates who were at home and in lockdown. Our first exam to run virtually was the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine (AChSHM) Exit Assessment. The team, examiners and candidates quickly adapted to a new exam delivery. Five candidates at sites across Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia used videoconferencing to conduct interviews with their examiners for the assessment. Large changes were made to the delivery of the Divisional Clinical Exam. The exam was split into separate Long Case and Short Case components and is being delivered over several months rather than weeks. The Long Cases are underway and are being held via videoconference for Paediatrics & Child Health and teleconference for Adult Medicine. Candidates need to score above a Band 0 to progress to the Short Cases which started on 26 February 2021 in Aotearoa New Zealand and from 1 March in Australia. Working with lockdowns and restrictions The Divisional Written Examination had its fair share of COVID-19 disruptions this year. The exam was planned to go ahead at venues across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand with appropriate social distancing and COVID-19 precautions in place. Three days before the exam, all of Victoria went into lockdown, placing doubts on whether the exam could proceed in Melbourne and Geelong. After a lot of advocating to the State Government, we were given permission to proceed with lengthy conditions. The exam venue was reconfigured and a zoning system implemented to minimise person-to-person contact. Candidates were issued forms allowing them to travel under the government restrictions as well as new entry times to stagger arrivals. Once all the preparations for Victoria were completed, the Alert Levels in Auckland increased to level 3, the night before the exam. Again, after lobbying to the New Zealand Ministry of Health, the exam was able to proceed. Candidates received confirmation and travel authorisation letters that evening. Thank you to all candidates who were impacted and worked with us while we navigated these last-minute changes. Rescheduled exams Due to COVID-19 impacts in 2020, all Faculty exams, with the exception of the AChSHM Exit Assessment, were postponed until 2021. All 2020 Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) and Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) exams have been combined into the 2021 exam dates. The 2020 Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) Oral Exam were held using videoconference in March 2021, with a second exam for the 2021 group to be held later in the year. Contingency planning While we continue to plan for the 2021 exams, the past few months have shown that we need to be prepared for change. We’re making sure all of our exams have a set of contingency plans in the event of COVID-19 disruptions. We also continue to work with the various exam committees, education committees, trainee representatives as well as staff and candidates at hospitals impacted by COVID-19 to make decisions. Computer Based Testing The Computer Based Testing (CBT) project for the 2021 AFRM Module 1 Assessment and a second, limited Divisional Written Exam in October are on track and preparations are going well. After a rigorous tender process, we have selected Elumina Elearning Pty Ltd as our CBT supplier. The Elumina platform is modern, easy to use and provides a number of benefits to candidates. They also have excellent back up processes and contingency plans to minimise any disruptions. Rigorous testing, including running end-to-end mock exams in live test centres was scheduled through to March 2021. More information about Elumina and the benefits they provide, as well as information about the two CBT exams, are on our website. Details of individual exams For information specific to each exam, please go to
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