RACGP Exam Update (12 November 2020)

RACGP exams: ensuring the trainee's voice is heard at every level

A message from GPRA CEO Dr Andrew Gosbell.

GPRA continues to strongly advocate to the RACGP on behalf of GP trainees on a range of issues in relation to the written exams.

There are other matters that GPRA is continuing to pursue with the RACGP in relation to the cancelled written exams and the RCE. We will update members as we receive responses from the College.

Here is the latest on our advocacy.

The move to a paper-based exam
GPRA has received several enquiries from concerned and anxious candidates regarding the rescheduled written exams being changed to a paper-based format. A range of issues have been raised, including: unfamiliarity with handwritten exams as a contemporary assessment modality, impact of legibility of individuals’ handwriting on assessment outcomes, limited time to prepare for the different format, COVID-safety requirements and adequacy of contingency arrangements.

It is noted that both the RACGP and ACRRM have reverted to paper-based formats for their re-run written exams. RACGP has allowed additional time for candidates to complete the paper-based assessments to allow for handwriting answers and has provided specific advice, in FAQs on their website and email communications to candidates, on the other concerns that have been raised.

 Difficult timelines
The College has advised if candidates sit the 2020.2 written exams but do not pass the AKT, the next opportunity to sit the written exams will be in the 2021.2 semester. GPRA has received several enquiries from trainees who consider this to be unfair, as those candidates who are unsuccessful in the re-sit exams will be effectively prevented from enrolling in the 2021.1 written exams.

In response to GPRA advocacy on this matter, College representatives have advised that the timelines and logistics are impossibly tight between the 2020.2 resit (Dec 2020) and the 2021.1 written exams (in Feb 2021). The marking, checking and other quality assurance for the written exams takes some time to process and so the AKT results won’t be available until mid-January and an even longer period for the KFP results. So with the 2021.1 written exams in the first week of February, this does not give enough time for those candidates, who are unsuccessful, to re-enrol let alone actually adequately study and prepare.

Rescheduling/delaying the 2021.1 written exams was considered but is not feasible as this disadvantages another cohort who have been prepping and making arrangements for the February written exams and would also have significant downstream impacts on the timetabling of all other exams in 2021.

Releasing the compromised KFP exam
Many candidates have requested that the College release the compromised KFP exam (from 9 October) so that it can be used as a practice resource for the resit assessment.

The College considered this request but decided not to release the KFP exam from the 9th October. The exam questions will NOT be used for future exams. Each KFP exam is unique and questions are not re-used from one semester to the next.

This is a disappointing outcome for candidates and whilst the compromised KFP will not be used for the rerun exam and cannot be used for future exams, GPRA understands that the RACGP are committed to this being used for future practice exams, online modules, webinars etc

Extension of training time caps
Several candidates affected by the cancelled written exams have raised concerns about the impact on exam attempts and training time caps.

College representatives have advised that all candidates affected by the cancelled AKT/KFP have been granted an extra exam cycle in their cap. This is in addition to the extra cycle already announced for all candidates sitting the written exams in 2020/21. This means an increase from 6 to 8 exam cycles in the cap for most affected candidates. Furthermore, a semester in which a candidate does not sit any exam will be counted as a suspended cycle and will not contribute to their exam cap. So if candidates do not participate in the 2020.2 re-run then the 2020.2 semester is suspended. If they do participate in the 2020.2 rerun but are unsuccessful in the AKT and therefore can't participate in the 2021.1 written exam the 2021.1 cycle will be suspended and not contribute to their cap.

In addition, training time extensions can also be applied for under the AGPT COVID-19 Support Policy 2020 (as per clause 5.7.4).

GPRA welcomes the RACGP’s advocacy to Home Affairs regarding the cancellation of the AKT and KFP exams, supporting the need to extend affected candidates’ visas. We are pleased that the Government has advised that such visa extensions will be granted under their endorsed events (COVID19 pandemic event).

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