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In addition to specialist societies, the Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians offers Speciality Certificate Exams (SCEs) to physicians in the UK. SCEs are globally recognised, and they are meant to increase a physician’s knowledge and skills as well as improving their appeal to potential employers.
There are four specific purposes of SCEs. First, it is meant to assess physicians rigorously on a national level; this helps to establish public confidence and identify any wanting aspects. Second, the exams ensure that physicians are imparted with sufficient skills and knowledge of their speciality. This, in turn, ensures that there is safety and competency in the medical sector. Third, SCEs are designed to equal or rival the challenge of North America’s Speciality Certification Examination. Finally, these exams complement other workplace-based assessments.
Speciality Certificate Examination is mandatory depending on when the physician began his/her specialist training and the speciality he/she belongs to. For starters, all physicians who began their training on or after August 2007 are required to sit SCEs as a component of assessment for Certificate of Completion of Training. It is also mandatory for the following specialities: neurology, dermatology, haematology, medical oncology, nephrology, palliative medicine, geriatric medicine, infectious diseases, respiratory medicine, endocrinology and diabetes, and gastroenterology.
Additionally, SCE in Acute Medicine is a mandatory knowledge-based assessment for all UK trainees who started their CCT training on or after August 2009. However, international candidates are exempted from any eligibility requirements.
SCE Test Centers
There are about 137 SCE test centers in the UK alone. All these tests are operated by Pearson VUE, and candidates in the UK are required to contact the organisation to book a test. There are hundreds of test centers around the world, but they are temporary. Candidates from regions around the world are asked to nominate cities where test centers should be set up, and MRCP(UK) proceeds to select the ideal city.
Speciality Certificate Examinations have varying fees for UK and international students; international students are required to pay about £168 more than UK candidates. Additionally, international students are not required to book with Pearson VUE; in fact, booking with Pearson VUE when outside the UK can delay the application process. Candidates in the UK can also apply for a transfer to international test centers.
What to Expect in the Exam Room
Speciality Certification Examinations have strict rules and regulations. For starters, all students are expected to arrive at the exam center at least 30 minutes before time; candidates who do not arrive in time are disqualified from sitting for the examination if they do not provide a good reason and documented proof to back it. Additionally, candidates are restricted from carrying anything into the exam rooms, including electronics and drinking water. Finally, candidates must provide their identification documents as well as the confirmation email showing that they have indeed registered for the SCE.
The tests are done via a computer terminal, and candidates must complete a brief tutorial on how to use the terminal. There is a one-hour break between the two papers. Candidates can easily and quickly check their results online through their accounts.
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