Written Evidence submitted by Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
Evidence for Education Select Committee
How exams and professional qualifications are being impacted during the pandemic
Active work on going between Colleges, GMC and SEBs under auspices of the Academy.
Need to maintain full GMC standards for exam content, delivery and certification.
Requirement to deal with backlog and time sensitive delivery of exams to meet progression and certification timelines and meet the derogation requirements set by the GMC to permit progression of training and a pipeline of qualified medical staff.
Exams test knowledge and higher order thinking in the application of knowledge to unfamiliar scenarios.
Timescale for changes needed:
Cancellation from March to July and later
To permit delivery of exams in Summer / Autumn 2020
No change to format (majority) – written and knowledge-based exams
Rapid GMC approval for format change to permit delivery
Medium / long term
To reduce reliance on clinical (patient) components within exams.
Factors limiting exams related to viral environment:
Lockdown and risk of re-lockdown
Limited social contact
Patient anxiety regarding attendance at healthcare facilities
Possibility for small, medium or large gatherings
Limiting 1-1 interactions to essential care
Clinical facility availability
Clinician examiner availability
Great stringency needed for medical gatherings
Travel limitations – to exam venues
Exam type delivery by degree of limitation due to viral environment:
Written / MCQ / computer delivered
Online open book at home
Online invigilated at home
Computer delivered test centre
Oral / viva
Recorded videos of workplace based testing submitted for central assessment
Live online videos of workplace based testing assessed centrally in real time
In person with health volunteers
Centralised or distributed delivery
Distributed in person with patients
Centralised in person with patients
Rate and degree of change needed:
Rapid rate and extensive change
Repeat lockdown this summer / autumn / winter
Moderate rate and moderate change
Socially distanced medium sized gatherings
Slow rate and limited change
Larger gatherings possible.
Planning for the worst and hoping for the best
Looking for opportunities to improve on existing processes
Actively sharing ideas for exam delivery
Common approaches to modification of exam design
Develop principles and consistency across specialties.
No preference for exam method
No approval required for some changes
Self-assessment for some changes
Streamlined group approval for similar changes
Streamlined individual approval for unique changes
Need assurances that candidates can demonstrate capabilities through assessment techniques.
Specific adaptations planned:
Similar format with increased numbers of sittings to permit social distancing
Movement of written exams from halls to online test centres
Online remote invigilation of written / MCQ exams
Use of videoconferencing for orals/vivas
Remote delivery of OSCE
Remote assessment of workplace delivered test using recorded or live video
Potential use of Nightingale (or equivalent) Hospitals for clinical exams, using additional space for social distancing
Dividing clinical exams into components which can be delivered by video conference (e.g. interpretation of investigations, communication) and those which need patient contact (history and examination)Deferring exams to later in 2021in specialties in which this will not impact progression.
Developing an AoMRC central repository of proposed changes, timescales and risk to inform GMC plans for rapid approval processes
Meeting planned to discuss workplace delivered centrally assessed clinical exams.