Royal College Spring 2020 Exams: Frequently asked questions

Last updated June 5, 2020

We are open to other ideas for what frequently asked questions would be most helpful. Please email your suggestions to communications@royalcollege.ca.

Necessity and timing of exams

What are the new written examination dates?

By June 12, 2020, we will provide you with a specific date for your written exam.

We recognize that you need time for planning and we want to meet our earlier commitment for providing at least six weeks’ notice.

Our team is working hard to finalize specific locations across Canada, in the United States and internationally so that we can deliver exams without compromising safety, equity and quality.

What is the latest possible date that will be considered for the spring exams?

The Royal College is committed to delivering all exams originally scheduled for spring 2020 between August 26 and September 30, 2020.

Where will exams be offered? How is the Royal College going to accommodate exam candidates who live and work in distributed education settings?

The number of examination sites has been expanded so candidates can take the exam closer to work or home. All examination sites will adhere to ongoing physical distancing protocols. For candidates in specialties with only multiple-choice questions, they will have the option to write the exam online.

In addition to our regular examination sites located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and St. John’s, we have added additional sites in Canada, the United States and internationally.

In Canada, we have added sites in:

  • Kelowna, BC
  • Thunder Bay, ON
  • Sherbrooke, QC
  • Sudbury, ON
  • Victoria, BC

In the United States, we are offering sites in:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Dallas, TX

Internationally, we are offering sites in:

  • Sydney, AU
  • Auckland, NZ
  • London, UK
  • Paris, FR

In the US, sites were selected to balance the spread of candidates across the country and airline hubs were chosen to facilitate travel. We will monitor restrictions and will add sites if state border restrictions do not ease by end July.

All candidates registered to a US site with ongoing state border restrictions will be contacted by the end of July for alternatives.

Why did the Royal College postpone the spring 2020 written examination dates?

With the World Health Organization’s declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly evolving situation in Canada — and with the safety of our candidates, examiners, staff and public in mind — the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, in consultation with the deans of all 17 medical schools, made the difficult decision to postpone the delivery of the spring 2020 certification exams to September 2020 at the earliest.

Could local invigilation have occurred when COVID-19 impacts became a foreseeable issue?

Postponing the spring exams was a necessary step in order to comply with public health and government directives regarding travel and physical distancing. Correctly predicting the escalation and intensity of the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian environment, including government measures to “flatten the curve” with physical distancing, travel restrictions and closures, was challenging ― even in hindsight. This prediction would have had to be made in December or January (when news of this virus was just reaching Canadian officials) to appropriately inform candidates of an earlier sitting. Additionally, in consultation with stakeholder health entities, it was indicated that candidates in the sites most affected by COVID-19 could be unavailable and additionally stressed by the provision of care to the very ill COVID-19 patients and therefore would not be available to write the exam. The logistics of delivering exams for 29 specialties across Canada is also quite complex. The administration of exams requires a coordinated effort to ensure that all exams from a specific discipline are administered, across five time zones, at the same time and in the same manner. Variations to any part of the process could impact a candidate and their results. This strict process also upholds the validity and reliability of the exam, and ensures the integrity of the assessment and that all content and documents are secured.

Was the possibility of waiving exams for this year's cohort considered?

The Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) has indicated that candidates must pass the pan-Canadian certification exam before they are eligible for a full, unrestricted license to practise medicine in Canada. Therefore, any path to certification without an exam would fail to meet the requirements for a full, unrestricted license. Please contact your local medical regulatory authority for more information.

As certification is for life, the Royal College needs to balance the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with ensuring the ongoing safety of Canadians. In light of the exceptional circumstances that COVID-19 has presented, the Royal College announced on April 9 that spring 2020 candidates will only be required to take a written exam (to be held in fall 2020) for specialty certification. The spring 2020 candidates will not need to complete the oral component of the comprehensive exam.

What is the registration deadline for the spring exams?

The Royal College is allowing all candidates who were ruled eligible for the 2020 examinations to register up until May 29th 2020.

Is the Royal College taking into consideration that some specialities and locations are being more directly impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. Emergency Medicine or Anesthesia in Montreal and Toronto), and as a result, it may be more difficult for these individuals to prepare for the exam?

Royal College has a duty to the public to assess and certify the competence of specialist physicians and surgeons, and exams play an important role in final certification. We are treating all candidates equitably and are working closely with programs to ensure candidates have as much time as possible to study leading up to their exam date.

What are the expectations once the six-week notice has gone out (e.g. should candidates drop their clinical work, cancel patient appointments, eliminate call shifts, etc.)?

We hope that exam candidate efforts to refresh their knowledge and competencies for the exam sitting in September will not require the same intensity as their months of preparation for their original spring dates. By eliminating the applied component this year, we also hope to lessen the burden of preparation. Exam preparation is very individual and we appreciate that it will be addressed differently by individual candidates. Any spring 2020 candidate who wishes to defer their Royal College written exam in 2020 may withdraw at any time, at no cost and for any COVID-19 related reason. In the case of withdrawal, it will not be considered as an exam attempt. Candidates who do attempt the exam but are unsuccessful will be eligible for the examination next year. We have extended everyone who was exam eligible in spring 2020 an extra year of eligibility.

Why can’t candidates write their exams before the summer? Could two exam sittings be considered (one spring, one fall)?

Unfortunately, it is not feasible to deliver exams before the end of June nor is it possible to do multiple sittings. Two exam sittings would potentially impact the validity of the exams and raises issues of fairness between candidates/specialties. Moreover, during this pandemic, we need to rely on our university partners for venues to administer exams locally (as other routine or alternative venues ― hotels and conference centres ― are not available to secure due to public health restrictions). In order to collate and assemble a second exam we would need to engage our Fellows, who volunteer their time to provide the questions for exams. Many of these volunteers are also unavailable as they are providing front line care during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In consultation with our university partners, it was felt that September is the earliest possibility to safely provide these venues for candidates to sit the Royal College exams.

Can I sit my subspecialty examination if I haven’t yet written my specialty exam because it was postponed (e.g. write the Medical Oncology exam prior to the Internal Medicine one)?

The Royal College has a process in place by which a candidate can appear for a subspecialty exam prior to a primary exam. Certification and Fellowship will only be conferred upon success at both exams.

What is the Royal College doing to ensure that the timing of the examinations still allows for American board exams to be written?

Most American board examinations have also been postponed. As we secure dates and venues for our postponed spring 2020 written examinations, we will make every effort to avoid conflicts in the scheduling, appreciating that some of their postponed exams are yet to be rescheduled.

What is the contingency plan if exams cannot be safely delivered in August/September 2020?

We are planning, with the best information available, to work through many different scenarios to ensure that we are able to deliver the spring 2020 exams safely in late August/September. We understand that things are still changing rapidly. While the where and how may need to change, know that the timing will not.

If there is majority agreement among candidates, could smaller specialties lobby to move the exam date earlier than September 2020?

While we understand the desire to write exams as soon as possible, the logistics and planning involved to coordinate and secure additional exam sites across Canada and the US takes time. In order to ensure all exam sites are properly staffed and all health and safety precautions are in place, the earliest we can safely deliver the exams is late August and September of this year.

Format and method of exam administration

Why were the applied/OSCE/oral exams cancelled?

Cancelling the applied exam is not a decision the Royal College took lightly, nor did we make it alone. From a safety perspective, the need to be in close physical quarters would put the health and safety of the candidates -- and the standardized patients who participate in the exams -- at risk. Given that physical distancing will continue into the fall, we also know that many patients that typically support us in the delivery of the applied exam would be unable or unwilling to attend. From a quality perspective, the validity of administering the applied exam by alternate methods would not be feasible. It takes more than 1,000 examiners many months to develop the oral exam – many of whom are busy clinically and could not all offer the time in a shortened runway to develop an exam for an alternate delivery format.

How does the Royal College know that the integrity of the exam is protected when removing the oral component, which traditionally is a significant part of the exam?

In these unprecedented times, the Royal College has released our strategic 4-point plan to deliver 2020 exams. The written exam format of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ), Short Answer Questions (SAQ) and length will be unchanged and continues to be based on the objectives of training of the discipline. Although the oral component is not a requirement for 2020 candidates, other steps are being taken to ensure candidates have the required knowledge, such as the provision of a signed re-affirmation from program directors that a trainee has met the required competencies to attempt the written exam.

If we agree that the oral/OSCE/applied examinations are not required for licensure for this cohort of candidates, then why will they be required, ever again, for any cohort?

Given the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 impact on spring 2020 exams, the decision to waive the oral component of the comprehensive exam is for 2020 candidates only. We have introduced the four-point plan, including signed re-affirmation from program directors that indicate residents have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination, in order to support to validity of successful candidates during these unprecedented times.

How is the integrity of exams being protected when exams are being delivered in multiple locations, including across different time zones?

The administration of valid exams requires a coordinated effort to ensure that all exams from a specific discipline are administered, across various time zones, on the same day and in the same manner. Start and end times will be adjusted to reflect the various time zones. This strict administration process also upholds the validity and reliability of the exam, and ensures the integrity of the assessment and that all content and documents are secured.

What is the proposed approach to administer the spring 2020 examinations this fall?

The Royal College has a four-point plan to deliver the spring 2020 exams this fall, in response to these extraordinary times:

  1. Oral exams will not be required for the spring 2020 cohort. The spring 2020 candidates will not need to complete the oral component of the comprehensive exam.

    The written exam format (MCQ, SAQ) and length will be unchanged and continues to be based on the objectives of training of the discipline.

    Before the exam (requirements):

    • Signed re-affirmation from your program director that you have met the required competencies to attempt the written exam will be needed. This will be organized between the Royal College and Canadian universities for the spring 2020 candidates.

    • If you are a repeat exam taker, international medical graduate or U.S. graduate, you will have to provide the necessary documentation for re-affirmation from an appropriate supervisor.

    Write the written exam: You will then take a written exam. If you pass the written exam, you will be immediately certified.

    For those who fail the written exam: If you do not pass the written exam, you will not be eligible for certification this year and will need to apply again next year; however, you will not exhaust an attempt in sitting this exam. We have extended everyone who was exam eligible in spring 2020 an extra year of eligibility.


  2. We will inform you of the dates for the exams. We have set a goal of September 2020 for the exam, and will be in a position to give you firm dates once we have confirmed the sites where these exams will be held. We are committed to providing a minimum of six weeks’ notice. We will be monitoring progress on COVID-19 and making the necessary logistical adjustments, if needed.

  3. Test sites will be expanded so you can take the exam closer to home. We previously had 14 test sites across the country. Together with our academic and health partners, we are expanding the number of test sites to allow candidates to take the exam as close to their home or work place as possible. Test sites will adhere to ongoing physical distancing protocols. We will provide more information on test locations once we have confirmed them with our partners.

  4. Fees for the oral exam will be refunded to you. We will reimburse your oral exam fee as quickly as possible. We will expedite these refunds to get the $2,215 fee back to you within 60 days (of the April 9 four-point exam plan announcement). Your refund will be in the same form of payment that you used.

What happens if a second wave disproportionally affects various testing sites, for example, forcing one particular exam site to close? Will you look for an alternative solution?

We are closely monitoring the evolution of this pandemic, and our first priority remains the health and safety of all individuals involved in exams. If indicators are pointing to an impact at a specific site, we will adjust the exam sites, if required, and find an alternative that would allow all candidates to take the exam safely on the same day. This would help protect the validity of the examination. For candidates in specialties with only multiple-choice questions (MCQ), they will have the option to write the exam online.

Now that the oral examinations are cancelled for 2020, will there be any changes to the format of the written exams?

The written exam format (MCQ, SAQ) and length will be unchanged and continues to be based on the objectives of training of the discipline.

Will certification of spring 2020 candidates, by written exam only, have limitations?

No. For this year only, if a spring 2020 cohort candidate meets the criteria for certification through written-exam only, the candidate will be deemed certified by the Royal College.

How will my Canadian program director re-affirm that I have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination?

All program directors will receive a letter asking them to re-affirm; no action will be required by first-time exam candidates.

If I am a repeat exam taker or international medical graduate from a residency program outside of Canada, what re-affirmation documentation is required?

You will be provided with an attestation letter to be signed. If you have recently (less than three years ago) graduated from a jurisdiction-approved or U.S. residency program, your program director can attest to your competencies. Alternatively, a recent fellowship director can serve for the attestation, or someone who has served as a supervisor and/or accountable for your practice in the last year. This attestation must be returned to the Royal College by August 1, 2020, to maintain eligibility for the postponed spring 2020 examinations.

If I am an international medical graduate, U.S. graduate or a repeat exam candidate and am in a Canadian residency program, who will attest that I have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination?

We require a signed re-affirmation from your program director that you have met the required competencies to attempt the written exam. This will be organized between the Royal College and Canadian universities for the spring 2020 candidates. This attestation must be returned to the Royal College by August 1, 2020, to maintain eligibility for the postponed spring 2020 examinations.

If I am an international medical graduate or U.S. graduate and am in practice in Canada, who will attest that I have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination?

You will be provided with an attestation letter to be signed. We will require the signature of someone who has supervision or accountability over your practice, such as a clinical supervisor, department head or chief of staff. This attestation must be returned to the Royal College by August 1, 2020, to maintain eligibility for the postponed spring 2020 examinations.

When will the Royal College offer exams online?

We have accelerated the move to online exams for late August/September of this year and will share the details of a phased introduction of computer-based exams for spring 2020 cohorts by June 19, 2020. The only exams that could move to an online platform for the spring 2020 cohorts are exams that are Mulitiple Choice Question (MCQ) exams. (Transition of Short Answer Question (SAQ) exams is not possible for the August/September exams. The Royal College is working closely with Fry-IT, the software vendor we hired to implement online exams, and is in close consultation with our Boards and Fellows to explore the transition of Multiple Choice Questions exams to online administration. These online exams will be remotely proctored through a candidate’s computer in their home or office. Candidates will have an opportunity to experience the platform and test their system against requirements in advance of their exam. Paper-based alternatives will be provided on the same dates and times at the in-person sites for any candidate who prefers this option. An email will be sent to candidates by June 12, 2020 with the specific exam dates by specialty and whether your specialty has the option to write an exam online.

What software is the Royal College using to roll out online exams? Why was it selected?

The Royal College has selected Practique, which is a software program for exams that was developed by the British vendor Fry-IT. It is already being used by a number of other colleges with great success, including Britain’s Royal College of General Practitioners.

Why can’t the Royal College administer exams via another format (e.g. teleconference, small group, multiple days, virtual setting)?

The administration of valid exams requires a coordinated effort to ensure that all exams from a specific discipline are administered, across five time zones, at the same time and in the same manner. Variations to any part of the process could impact a candidate and their results. This strict administration process also upholds the validity and reliability of the exam, and ensures the integrity of the assessment and that all content and documents are secured. Additionally, having the exams equally available to all candidates at the appropriate time is one of our guiding principles. Were the exams provided prior to September 2020 or in a different format, it is possible that some candidates would not have equal access to exams.

Why is it not possible for program director evaluations on suitability for practice and training ITERS to replace/be individually considered the “exam” for this year’s cohort?

The Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) has indicated that residents must pass the pan-Canadian certification exam before they are eligible for a full, unrestricted license to practise medicine in Canada. Therefore, any path to certification without an exam would fail to meet the requirements for a full, unrestricted license. Please contact your local medical regulatory authority for more information.

As certification is for life, the Royal College needs to balance the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with ensuring the ongoing safety of Canadians. At this time, the certification exam has been deemed a necessary final step to certify candidates have all the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective specialist. Assessment within residency programs plays a significant role but has never been the sole determinant for certification. The Royal College has a duty to the public to assess and certify the competence of specialist physicians and surgeons.

Are contingency plans being explored to address the effects of exam delays (e.g. advocacy to reduce the requirements/expedite provisional licenses, back-up options for people unable to write in fall 2020, etc.)?

All spring 2020 candidates are receiving an extra year of exam eligibility to account for any potential impacts on performance. In addition, spring 2020 candidates who wish to defer their Royal College written exam in 2020 may withdraw at any time, at no cost and for any COVID-19 related reason. In the case of withdrawal, it will not be considered as an exam attempt. Candidates who do present to the exam but are unsuccessful will not be eligible for certification this year and will need to apply again next year; however, they will not exhaust an attempt in sitting this exam.

The Royal College has been continuously working and collaborating with the medical regulatory authorities across Canada. They have been incredibly helpful and are working hard to have residents transition to practice in their specialty, so to care for patients as the most responsible physician. Additionally, they have posted information on their own websites, which will be continuously updated.

Computer delivery and remote proctoring

Will all the specialty certification exams be administered online?

No. At this time the Royal College has the capability to deliver specialty certification exams that are in the multiple choice question (MCQ) format both online via remote proctoring and at test centres as paper-based exams. The MCQ specialty exams that can be delivered online and at test centres are:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgical Foundation
  • Diagnostic Radiology
  • General Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Psychiatry
  • Urology

Why can’t all exams be administered online or in person?

We appreciate that this change to the administration of an online exam via remote proctoring for a select set of exams seems unfair. Based on requests from candidates to have some exams delivered online, we have accelerated the implementation of the computer-based platform from our vendor. At this time, the current platform only supports the delivery of MCQ exams. The administration of short answer questions (SAQ) exam was not an option given the current timeframe.

So if you are administering my exam online, why can’t I take it before July 1?

Two issues prevent us from delivering any exam before July 1. First, as previously communicated, we committed to delivering exams in a safe manner based on Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines. And following consultation with postgraduate deans, the medical regulatory authorities, Resident Doctors of Canada and Fédération des Médecins Résidents du Québec, the decision was to move the written exams to September 2020.

Second, the exams are delivered in a synchronous fashion, meaning that the exam for a given specialty needs to be delivered on the same day. By adding an online administration, the online exam has to be delivered on the same day as the written paper-based exam.

What happens if the date of the exam in a test centre is not convenient to me but there is an online exam available? Can I write my exam online on a different day?

Exams are delivered in a synchronous fashion and exam and content security is critical. So exams for a specialty, regardless of delivery methods, must be written on the same day so that only one version of the exam is available at any given time.

What is remote proctoring?

Remote proctoring enables candidates to write an exam online in a location, such as their home or office, through virtual monitoring, while maintaining the integrity of the exam. Remote proctoring also allows an exam to be conducted in the same manner as an exam being written in a test centre using invigilators. This ensures consistency and fairness in that a standardized process was used for all candidates.

What does remote proctoring involve?

If you chose to do your exam online, specific instructions on the process of remote proctoring will be sent to you. During a remote proctored exam, a virtual proctor will be signing you in and performing various security and identification checks prior to giving you access to your exam. During the course of the exam, a proctor can observe you (not visible to the exam taker) and also provide assistance in case issues arise.

Prior to writing a remote proctored exam, you will need to validate that your computer system or tool meets the technological requirements to be able to host the proctoring system. These will include adequate bandwidth on an internet connection, access to a web camera and adequate system capabilities. That process will be explained to you in separate communication.

If my exam is administered online, do I have to take it online or can I still write my exam in a test centre?

Exams that are administered online will also have a written paper-based version available. A candidate can choose which method suits them.

If my exam has an online version, when will I be able to choose the online exam versus the paper-based one?

Our goal is to have registration for online exams available in late June 2020. This will not influence published exam dates.

If I chose to write my exam online, will I have a chance to use the system before I take my exam?

Yes, our goal is to have practice exams available to online test takers in July 2020 to allow candidates to familiarize themselves with the system.

Can I change my mind after doing the practice exam and go to a test centre to write the exam if I feel I can’t do the online exam?

Yes, we are ensuring that adequate space is available for those who wish to do a paper-based exam.

If I chose to write the exam online, what happens if there is an issue?

The online instruction package you receive will outline how to handle issues during the proctored exams.

Is there an advantage to taking the exam online versus the written, paper-based one?

There are no advantages between taking an exam online versus written paper-based examinations. Both exams will be the same. The choice will be up to a candidate based on which modality of exam suits them best.

What happens if I fail using the online exam system?

The same policies apply for both an exam taken online or at a test centre. If a candidate does not pass the written exam this fall, they will not be eligible for certification this year and will need to apply again next year; however, they will not exhaust an attempt in sitting this exam. We have extended everyone who was exam eligible in spring 2020 an extra year of eligibility.

I live and practice in a country outside of North America. If my specialty exam is available online, can I take it from my home country?

At this time, the Royal College can only offer remote proctored exams in the cities where the written exams are taking place. This is part of our risk mitigation strategy in case some technical issues would prevent a candidate from accessing their exam online due to geopolitical IT constraints that exist in some countries.

Refunds, withdrawals and deferrals

Can the Royal College reimburse candidates full fees until the exams are rescheduled?

The Royal College will not be refunding the written exam fees as the Royal College still intends to administer the written exams this fall.

Will I be refunded any of my examination fees?

We will be issuing a refund of $2,215 for the oral exam within 60 days per our April 9, 2020, four-point exam plan announcement. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to attend your exam on the rescheduled date or decide to withdraw this year for any COVID-19 related reason, you will be offered a FULL refund.

Do I have to apply to receive my refund for the oral examination component?

No, all candidates who were registered for the spring 2020 exams will be automatically refunded.

When can I expect the refund for my oral examination component and how will it come?

The refunds are expected to be completed within 60 days of our April 9, 2020, four-point exam plan announcement. Your refund will be in the same form of payment that you used. If you paid via a credit card, the refund will be processed using that same credit card number.

What happens if I withdraw from the spring 2020 examination process?

If you decide to withdraw from the spring 2020 exam process for any reason related to COVID-19, including feeling too overwhelmed by the situation, you will be granted a FULL refund. This withdrawal will not count as an exam attempt and will not alter your exam eligibility.

If I don’t elect to defer my written examination and I am unsuccessful at my final attempt, will the Royal College grant me another year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Spring 2020 candidates wishing to defer their Royal College written exam in 2020 may withdraw at any time, at no cost and for any COVID-19 related reason. In the case of withdrawal, it will not be considered as an exam attempt. Candidates who do present to the exam but are unsuccessful will not be eligible for certification this year, and will need to apply again next year; however, they will not exhaust an attempt in sitting this exam. We have extended everyone who was exam eligible in spring 2020 an extra year of eligibility.

Do candidates have to be sick or quarantined to be able to defer the examination?

No, spring 2020 exam candidates do not have to be sick or quarantined to be able to defer the exam. If, for whatever reason, candidates are unable to attend their exam on the rescheduled date or decide to withdraw this year for any COVID-19 related reason, they will be offered a FULL refund.

Licensing, training and pass/fail considerations

How will a postponed examination impact candidates’ license to practise?

We have been working with the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada to understand how candidates can extend their licenses and continue to care for patients without interruption. Graduating residents will be eligible for a provisional / temporary / restricted license in a Canadian province provided that they have (1) confirmation of completion of postgraduate training, (2) notice of eligibility to take the certification exam and (3) understand that they must take the certification exam at the earliest opportunity. Learn more: https://fmrac.ca/licensing-the-2020-graduating-cohorts/

For specific information on any other requirements or conditions, all trainees are invited to consult the website of their provincial or territorial medical regulatory authority. Visit www.fmrac.ca/members for contact information.

Will spring 2020 candidates be able to get a special license to practise?

We anticipate that as this pandemic evolves, the care candidates provide will be more and more essential. Provincial regulatory authorities have confirmed they have mechanisms to provide graduating residents with provisional/temporary/restricted licenses to practise, given the unexpected and necessary postponement of exams and certification. Provisional and restricted licensing will vary by location. Please contact the appropriate medical regulatory authority for more details.

How will postponed examinations impact subspecialty training/fellowship placements?

Starting subspecialty or fellowship training should not be dependent on the successful completion of the Royal College exams and related certification. Subspecialty exams will be granted in the same year as primary exams, if necessary.

How will this postponement impact candidates who will be going to the U.S. in June/July to pursue additional training or to work (where Royal College certification is required)?

We suggest that all trainees contact their planned training programs for direction on process and the right authority with whom to discuss their options.

If a candidate passed the written but failed the oral exam last year, do they still need to go through this process again if the oral is dismissed for 2020?

Given the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 impacting spring exams, the decision to waive the oral component of the comprehensive exam is for spring 2020 candidates only. In 2019, the Royal College exam was developed and delivered as a whole with a comprehensive blueprint; decisions were based on the total performance between the written and the oral. For 2020 spring exam candidates, the written exam will stand alone; candidates who pass the written exam will be immediately certified. As this decision only applies to spring 2020 candidates who pass their written exam, it does not apply to previous exam years, which means that we are unable to count the success on your 2019 written exam.

What if the spring 2020 examinations cannot be given this fall or what if a candidate fails? How does that impact their provisional six-month licence?

If the COVID-19 crisis escalates, making it impossible to safely administer the exams in September (with our candidates, examiners, staff and public in mind) we will work with our university partners to develop an alternate plan.

If a candidate does not pass the written exam this fall, they will not be eligible for certification this year and will need to apply again next year; however, they will not exhaust an attempt in sitting this exam. We have extended everyone who was exam eligible in spring 2020 an extra year of eligibility.

Extension of provincial licensure will vary between provinces. We are working closely and in collaboration with the medical regulatory authorities so they are updated as to our dates and the impact of COVID-19. The medical regulatory authorities have been very engaged and helpful amidst this crisis.

Special accommodations

Will there be special accommodations provided to candidates who are pregnant?

Per our deferral policy, any exam withdrawals that need to be made (e.g. due to pregnancy or childbirth) will be honoured, without any impact to a candidate’s eligibility or counts against their attempts at certification. All exam fees will also be fully reimbursed. To request a refund of exam fees, please contact us at candidates@royalcollege.ca.

Will protections/accommodations/alleviation of clinical duties be given for 14 days prior to the examinations so that candidates don't get quarantined?

Candidates who are still in training will need to work with their programs to arrange for appropriate relief from clinical duties based on the clinical situation in their institution. Restrictions may vary by jurisdiction. Candidates in practise will need to assess the risk in their clinical practice, to inform their presentation for the exams.

Will I be able to sit my written examination if I am self-quarantined or quarantined?

This fall, the safety of our candidates, examiners and staff will continue to be our top priority. Candidates who are quarantined pose a risk to that safety and would need to defer their exam to the next opportunity. Candidates will be screened at registration as to their status (including recent symptoms, travel history and care of COVID-19 related patients without personal protective equipment). We expect candidates to adhere to professional codes of conduct and public health directives, and not to present for the exam if they are quarantined or symptomatic for potential COVID-19.

Will personal protective equipment (PPE) be available at my written examination?

Some PPE equipment and sanitizer may be available to candidates at their exams for use at their discretion, recognizing the ongoing supply and availability challenges. The Royal College has distributed its current supply to health care institutions to manage the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Candidates are welcome to bring any personal PPE they may wish to wear for the exams.

Can immunocompromised candidates write in a separate room?

Arrangements are always offered to candidates requesting appropriate accommodation.

All candidates will be appropriately physically distanced for the sitting of their exam, as per public health guidelines. Candidates are welcome to bring any personal PPE they may wish to wear for the exams.

Will examinations take place during Ramadan (or other major religious holiday periods)?

Arrangements are always offered to candidates requesting appropriate accommodation.

We can confirm that Royal College exams will not take place during Ramadan, which is expected to begin in the evening of April 23 and will end in the evening of May 23, 2020. As best we can, we will avoid scheduling exams on major religious holidays coming up in September (e.g. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur).

International medical graduates

What are the options being considered for international medical graduates? Many are applying from another country and don’t have program directors in Canada to validate their work in other places.

We are reviewing the challenges that international medical graduates are facing, including their ability to secure the appropriate documentation and the impacts of potential travel restrictions. There is no single answer to this question, since each individual situation may differ and need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to support international medical graduates through this situation, and to help minimize the impact to them.

If I am a repeat exam taker or international medical graduate from a residency program outside of Canada, what re-affirmation documentation is required?

You will be provided with an attestation letter to be signed. If you have recently (less than three years ago) graduated from a jurisdiction-approved or U.S. residency program, your program director can attest to your competencies. Alternatively, a recent fellowship director can serve for the attestation, or someone who has served as a supervisor and/or accountable for your practice in the last year. This attestation must be returned to the Royal College by August 1, 2020, to maintain eligibility for the postponed spring 2020 examinations.

If I am an international medical graduate, U.S. graduate or a repeat exam candidate and am in a Canadian residency program, who will attest that I have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination?

We require a signed re-affirmation from your program director that you have met the required competencies to attempt the written exam will be needed. This will be organized between the Royal College and Canadian universities for the spring 2020 candidates. This attestation must be returned to the Royal College by August 1, 2020, to maintain eligibility for the postponed spring 2020 examinations.

If I am an international medical graduate or U.S. graduate and am in practice in Canada, who will attest that I have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination?

You will be provided with an attestation letter to be signed. We will require the signature of someone who has supervision or accountability over your practice, such as a clinical supervisor, department head or chief of staff. This attestation must be returned to the Royal College by August 1, 2020, to maintain eligibility for the postponed spring 2020 examinations.

If there are still travel restrictions in place when the written examinations are rescheduled, what alternatives will be available for international medical graduates who must travel to Canada from other countries?

We do not have remote exam delivery capabilities at this time. Exams will be offered in Canada and, with this unforeseen delay, we are also exploring sites outside of Canada. We will work with exam candidates to find solutions to their individual situations. If deferral is required, there will be no impact on these candidates’ exam eligibility or number of attempts towards certification.