The part 2 written exam comprises of 180 multiple choice questions – spread over two 120-minute sessions. According to the most recent college exam reports, the pass rate ranged from 45 to 70% in 2019/2020. Most trainees seem to sit it between ST3-5 although looking at the exam reports, there are some oddballs that sit it in FY2 (and pass!).
Although you’re faced with the prospect of being questioned on all of ophthalmology, revising for this exam feels more relevant to your day-to-day practice as an ophthalmologist than revising for the part 1 written exam or the refraction certificate.
A lot of people approach preparation for this exam with idealistic aims such as “reading Kanski, the Oxford and / or the American Academy series from cover to cover” but a far more reliable approach would be to look through the College website examinations section candidate notes to see where your revision should be focused. For example: anatomy / physiology / genetics / pathology / optics / stats / research in total account for approximately only 7% of the exam, whereas surgical and medical retina accounts for 11%. Spend more time on high yield topics, rather than memorising which obscure statistical test you need to apply for a certain dataset.
In terms of preparation, getting your hands on as many practise questions as possible, seems to be the most popular approach. The most popular question banks are: Eyedocs (eyedocs.co.uk) or Ophthoquestions (ophthoquestions.com) which are priced at £99 and £388 respectively for a six-month subscription. Speaking to previously successful candidates, the general consensus seems to be that both are equally good as long as you go through the entire bank a couple of times at least, which should take around three to six months. I personally found the Eyedocs questions bank adequate for preparation, although the question bank is quite dated now and the actual exam questions require a little bit more thought than just applying the theory you have learnt from the bank of MCQs.
FRCOphth Part 2 MCQs by Tagal et al. and Ophthalmology Fact Fixer by Chua are also great MCQ resources. If you prefer a different format Ophthalmology Review: A case study approach by Singh and Case Reviews in Ophthalmology by Friedman are good. Viva and OSCE Exams in Ophthalmology by Fung is excellent for up-to-date Royal College and NICE (National Institute of Health & Care Excellence) guidelines, along with summaries of pivotal studies. Eyeguru.org is also excellent for summarising studies. Glance through the RCOphth and NICE websites to make sure you haven’t missed any newer guidelines.
The exam itself is done as an online proctored exam which is run in a very slick way with plenty of information given by the College on how to set up your computer and exam environment for the big day. Doing 90 questions in 120 minutes seemed like a fair pace for the exam to run at. There is a flexible one-hour break in between the two sections, so make sure you’re well fed and watered in between. Good luck!
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