The Examination is designed to evaluate the competence of the candidates in regard to their knowledge, skills and attitudes in General Practice/Family Medicine. A good understanding of the principles and methods of Family Medicine is essential. Skills in problem solving, communication, practice management, physical examination, and office procedures are to be tested. Commitments of continuous, comprehensive, co-ordinated, patient-centred, and anticipatory care are expected from candidates.
The segments of the Examination are:-
(a) Multiple Choice Questions: 3.5 hours
(b) Key Feature Problems: 3 hours
Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE): About 4 hours
Different segments test different areas of the candidate’s competence in regard to their knowledge, skills and attitudes in Family Medicine and carry different weighting to the total score of the Examinations as follows:-
Clinical Examination - Objective Structured Clinical Examination
The Clinical Examination will consist of 14 or more OSCE stations, which are designed to mimic real clinic consultation scenarios. Different emphasis will be placed in individual station. For example some will be designed to test candidate’s diagnostic skill, while others will test patient management skill, physical examination skills with problem solving components, oral/ communication skill, critical appraisal skill, skill in handling a general consultation and clinical interpretations of X-rays, clinical photos and laboratory data, etc. Time limit for long stations will be 19 minutes and for short stations 8 minutes.
Parts of both the Written and Clinical Segments may be video- or audio-taped and copies retained for the sole purpose of examiner training. Candidates may select not to be taped and must inform the Board of Conjoint Examination in writing not later than two weeks before the Conjoint Examination. Candidates may not demand the Board of Conjoint Examination to tape their performance for the sake of future appeal.
Criteria for a Pass in the Examination
The Board of Conjoint Examination, in the attendance of the College Chief Censor and the visiting examiners from RACGP, has the final decision on the pass or fail of a candidate.
Standard setting is the process by which a ‘standard’ is translated into a ‘passing score’, intended to divide a group of candidates into those who pass, and those who fail. A ‘standard’ is a conceptual boundary between acceptable and non-acceptable performance.
Absolute standard setting procedures will be used to set the pass mark for the Conjoint Examination. The difficulty and importance of the examination questions will be analyzed by groups of expert examiners making judgments about hypothetical borderline candidates’ performance in each question. The questions are scrutinized for face validity, statistical reliability and quality.
Although the overall pass mark may vary from examination to examination, the standards used in determining those pass marks will remain constant and absolute.
Under the present examination format, candidates will be required to pass the entire Written Examination in one sitting. That is, if one fails the Written Examination, both segments (MCQ and KFP) of the Written Examination have to be re-taken. Successful Written Examination result can be retained for three years.
The Clinical Examination can only be taken after successful attempt of the Written Examination and has to be passed in one sitting. If one fails the Clinical Examination, all the OSCE stations have to be re-taken.
As the examination is an educational process, the Chairman of Board of Conjoint Examination and the Chief Examiner will invite candidates to attend feedback sessions usually within two months after the Examination. The feedback is on an individual basis and preference is given to the unsuccessful candidates.
During the feedback session, the Chairman and the Chief Examiner, or their designates, will discuss with the candidate on areas such as the segment pass rates and the areas of weakness. There are usually some suggestions for making improvement. Comments and expectations from the candidate are always welcomed and taken seriously. Most former candidates found these sessions useful.
A prize in the form of "Dr. Peter CY Lee Best Candidate Award" will be awarded to the candidate who passed the Conjoint Examination at one setting and achieved the highest mark in the Examination.
Feedback from Candidates
Feedback from candidates is an important element of the appraisal of any examination. A questionnaire will be distributed to the candidates following the examination. The information received in these questionnaires has been and will be used for the assessment and improvement of the examination process.