“a general overview to the fellowship of the royal colleges of the surgeons-FRCS exam”

What is FRCS?

All the candidates who wish to register themselves with the Irish or General Medical Council, as a Specialist, have to take the Fellowship of Royal Colleges of the Surgeons (FRCS) examinations. FRCS is an intercollegiate examination taken by the trainees usually in their 4th year of training.

FRCS is a professional qualification that will enable you to work as a senior surgeon in the UK or Ireland. Award of the Diploma of Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons indicates that a candidate has a sound knowledge of the scientific basis and is experienced and competent at applying that knowledge to patients suffering from common surgery complications.

The Fellowship should be perceived as a validation of surgery’s knowledge, experience, and training. Candidates achieving this standard are judged to have the skills of a General Surgeon and to be able to manage patients and their surgical complications independently in a safe and professional manner.

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FRCS Examinations

MRCS Examinations

MRCP Examinations

PLAB Examinations

Why take the FRCS exam?

The Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) is a professional qualification required to practice as a surgeon in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Certification is granted by one of the following Royal Colleges:

  • Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

In a Nutshell, this exam allows you to obtain the Recognition certificate to work as a senior, independent, and renowned surgeon in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. FRCS is a higher-level diploma for Surgeons wishing to pursue a surgical career in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.


Aims and objectives of FRCS examinations

Pursuing a Surgical Career in the UK is a very hard, challenging, and nail-biting process. You have to be very patient and hardworking if you are looking to pursue a surgical career in the UK or Ireland. The FRCS examination is aimed at testing your basic sciences knowledge, communication skills, basic surgical training, and what you have learned during your specialist training after MRCS. The main aims and objectives of the FRCS examination, in a nutshell, are compiled below:

  • To test the basic medical sciences knowledge, skills, and the basic surgical skills
  • To assess the communication skills and the professionalism of the candidate
  • To make post-graduate surgeons work as specialist surgeons in the UK and Ireland
  • To make your work as a senior surgeon in the UK and the Republic of Ireland
  • The ultimate objective is to ensure that the surgeons being recruited are skilled enough to meet the market demand in the UK or Ireland


Who Conduct FRCS exam?

In the past, just like the MRCS, the FRCS examinations were conducted separately by all 4 Royal Colleges of Surgeons of the UK and Ireland. With some new changes in recent history, FRCS examinations are now conducted on the Intercollegiate Basis. The Surgeons wishing to pursue a career in the UK or Ireland currently enter via two available routes:

  1. Joint Committee on the Intercollegiate Examinations (JCIE)
  2. Joint Surgical Colleges Fellowship Examinations (JSCFE)
The JCIE is responsible, in line with the statutory requirements of the GMC Postgraduate Board, to the four surgical Royal Colleges of Great Britain and Ireland, for the supervision of standards, Policies, Regulations, and professional conduct of the Specialty Fellowship Examinations.

The JCIE is the parent body for its ten surgical Specialty Boards.


JSCFE offers the Intercollegiate Fellowship Examinations for the International Surgical Community. This examination has parity of standards with the one offered by the JCIE and it has, therefore, the same international reputation and value. It is aimed to test those international candidates who have, or who are about to complete their training.
For more details kindly visit the official website:


For more details kindly visit the official website:


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Specialties Offered

Following are the specialties that are offered by the Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of the Surgeons:

  • General Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Urology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pediatric Surgery
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Trauma and Orthopedic Surgery
  • Vascular Surgery


Components of the FRCS exam

FRCS is a 2-part assessment examination for specialist training in the UK and Ireland:

Examination Pattern
FRCS Part 1 Written (MCQs)
FRCS Part 2 Clinical Component along with the Viva


Remember, each specialty has its own format for conducting the exam. To clear your idea regarding the FRCS components we will try to explain only one of the Specialty formatting and the procedure:


FRCS PART 1 (Urology Specialty)

 FRCS Part 1 is a written test composed of a combination of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ single best answer; 1 from 5) and Extended Matching Item questions (EMI). Each paper will be carefully prepared to cover the curriculum content which can be best assessed in this way. A process of standard setting is performed by trained and experienced examiners setting the pass mark for the paper.

What is asked? Applied basic sciences and the General Surgery Principles

The format of the Exam: Part A is broken down into two Papers. The below table will clarify the idea:

Paper What is asked? Time MCQ’s
A Applied Basic Sciences 2 Hours Best Choice-1 out of 5
B General Principles of Surgery 2 Hours 30 minutes Extended Matching Items


Time Length: 4 Hours 30 Minutes, 1-day exam.

When to take it? Most trainees sit the exam during ST5 or ST6.  The advantage of taking the exam early, in order to allow you to focus on other aspects of your training, must be balanced against the advantage of doing the exam later, such that you have gained the relevant clinical experience required to pass the exam.

Test Centers: Since January 2011, FRCS Part 1 has been invigilated at local “Driving Test Centers”.

Eligibility Criteria: Eligibility Criteria are very simple for the FRCS examination:

  • You must have completed your primary medical qualification (MBBS) from the institutions listed in the directory of the Medical Council of Ireland and the General Medical Council of the UK.
  • You must be enrolled in specialty training ST5 or ST6.


FRCS Part 2 (Clinical Component)-Urology Specialty

FRCS Part 2 is the clinical component of the examination. It is comprised of a series of carefully designed and structured interviews on clinical topics – some being scenario-based and some being patient-based.

Format:  The format of the examination will be eight 20 minute structured clinical scenario sessions as follows:

Session What is asked? Time Length
Session 1

2-20 minutes Viva sessions

Urological oncology [kidney & bladder]

Urological oncology [prostate, testis, and penis]

20 minutes


20 minutes

Session 2

2-20 minutes Viva sessions


Pediatric Urology

Emergency urology

20 minutes

20 minutes

Session 3

2-20 minutes Viva session

Calculi & urinary tract infections

Urological imaging and principles of urological technology

20 minutes

20 minutes

Session 4

2-20 minutes Viva sessions

Bladder dysfunction and gynecological aspects of urology

BPH and andrology

20 minutes

20 minutes


Total time length: 160 minutes

When to take it? 3-4 months after passing FRCS part 1

Test Centers: Usually at the local test centers in the UK or Ireland

Eligibility Criterion: Passing FRCS part 1


Test Centers for other Specialities

The above-mentioned test centers are only for the Urology Specialty. There are several international test centers for FRCS part 1 and FRCS part 2 for different specialties. For example, the test centers for ophthalmology specialty are listed below:

  • Dhaka,
  • Cairo,
  • Chennai,
  • Hyderabad,
  • Kolkata,
  • Mumbai,
  • New Delhi,
  • Amman,
  • Tripoli,
  • Muscat,
  • Islamabad,
  • Karachi,
  • Jeddah,
  • Glasgow,
  • Dubai,
  • Barbados,
  • Jamaica,

There are several International test centers for different Specialties.

How do prepare FRCS exam?

To pass your FRCS examinations follow the following tips:

  • Allow yourself 3-4 months to prepare for the FRCS part 1
  • After the Part 1 result allow further 3-4 months for the preparation of FRCS part 2
  • Go through as many practices MCQ’s as you can
  • Spend time with your family and friends and divide your free time for the preparation
  • For Part 2 you mostly have all the knowledge because you have already gone through a long road of MRCS as well but still, you should spend some time in improving the delivery of your answers
  • Study in groups
  • Ask consultants and trainees who have recently passed the examination
  • Seek help
  • Use online forums to discuss your queries
  • Give online mock vivas to the consultant and the trainees
  • Consider spending some time with radiologists, oncologists, nephrologists, histo-pathologists, etc. to refine your knowledge of topics in which you may be weaker.


Study Material/Content for FRCS exam

As it has already been mentioned that every FRCS specialty examinations have its own way of conducting the examination and likewise the study material for every specialty is different. In this section the study material for Urology Specialty is mentioned:

  • Campbell’s Urology– Some consider reading all four volumes of Campbell’s a right of passage.  By all means, read it (bold text only) but do not try to learn it and it may be better used as a reference book.
  • Campbell’s Urology MCQs– A little out of date and often the standard is set above that of the real exam.
  • Scientific Basis of Urology– Useful for FRCS part 1
  • Comprehensive Urology – No longer in print
  • Essential Paediatric Urology– You do not need any other pediatric text – also attend the BAPU course
  • Viva Practice for the FRCS(Urology) Examination– A must-have for FRCS part 2
  • Oxford Handbook– A fantastic scaffold on which to hang the rest of your knowledge


Courses for the FRCS exam

You can take some of the following courses to prepare for the examinations:

  • BAUS FRCS course

            E-mail Hannah Doyle

  • European Urology Residents Education Program


  • Rapid Revision Course for the FRCS Examination


  • BAPU

If you have not already attended this excellent residential course, it would be an excellent aid to revision for this part of the exam


What if you fail the exam on the first try?

There is no need to worry if you fail the examinations on the first try. You can retake the Part 1 and Part 2 examinations as tabulated below:

Exam No. of Retakes
FRCS PART 1 4 attempts-with a two year period from the first attempt with no reentry
FRCS Part 2 3 attempts-with no reentry


 Is IELTS Required for FRCS?

IELTS is not required to pass your examination. ILETS is required when you apply for registration with GMC.

IELTS Component Scores Needed
Speaking 7  bands
Listening 7  bands
Writing 7  bands
Reading 7 bands
Overall 7.5 Bands


Fee Structure

The fee structure for the FRCS Examinations is different for different specialties. To give you an idea of the fee structure, only the ophthalmology specialty fee is tabulated here. Ophthalmology Specialty consists of 3 separate parts:


Exam Fee
Part 1 £295
Part 2 £720(Both Papers)
£425 (Problem Solving Paper Only)
Part 3 £1370


Registration Procedure

To register yourself for the FRCS exam, kindly follow the below-mentioned links:


JSCFE Registration

JCIE Registration

This is all about the FRCS Exam. If there is anything missing you can mention it below in the comment box. Feel free to ask any questions.

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  1. Arsalan im n 4th yr mbbs student i want to do my postgraduation in emergency medicine the link u shared it doesn,t show that specialty offered by royal college .i want to go for frcem is there any i formation regarding to it

  2. Mr Arslan Raza
    I am an Orthopaedic Surgeon in India. I want to register in my speciality in UK. Kindly guide me about whether i will go for MRCS or FRCS, whichevr wil be best for me? Thnx

  3. Mr. Anil Pawar
    i am third year urology resident in india. i want to register for FRCS exam. i just want to know , is referes letter for exam is compulsory.

  4. Hello dear dr arsalan…Iam at first year neurosurgery iraqi board….if I completed my board and did frcs both parts can I work in UK…??

  5. Respected sir,
    I have completed my post graduate (dnb orthopaedics)from india.i would like to enquire whether jscfe exam allow for gmc registration as registrar or consultant

  6. Hi

    My sister is a physiology Hons. student. Can she will be able to apply for FRCS exam? What is the criteria for applying FRCS exam


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