Membership of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland

Membership of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (MRCS) is a postgraduate diploma for surgeons in the UK and Ireland. Obtaining this qualification allows a doctor to become a member of one of the four surgical colleges in the UK and Ireland, namely the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The examinations are currently organised on an intercollegiate basis.[1] Thus today's MRCS has replaced the former MRCS(Eng), MRCS(E), MRCS(G), and MRCS(I). (Similarly, the MRCP is also now intercollegiate.)


Each college used to hold examinations independently, which is what the post-nominal MRCS used to indicate, for example, MRCS (London) specifically.[2] After decades of discussion of possible intercollegiate MRCS and FRCS, they were implemented in the 21st century, at first by unifying the syllabus of the separate qualifications of MRCS(Eng), MRCS(G), MRCS(E), and MRCS(I). In January 2004, the four colleges switched over to a common examination, known as the Intercollegiate MRCS.


The MRCS qualification consists of a multi-part examination including both theory and practical assessments. Until 2018, Part A was a 5-hour written examination which was used to assesses the applied basic sciences (a 3 hour paper in the morning) and principles of surgery in general (a 2 hour paper in the afternoon) using multiple-choice Single Best Answer only. It has a passing mark around 71% and pass rate of around 30 per cent.[3] Part B is a 4-hour practical examination which assesses elements of day-to-day surgical practice through a series of stations on anatomy, pathology, critical care, clinical procedures and patient evaluation (history taking, clinical examination and communication skills).[4] It has a pass rate of around 50 per cent.[3] Current curricula have changed to introduce the completion of both exams as a mandatory requirement to complete core surgical training prior to application to higher surgical training (ST3) in the UK. Trainees often require multiple attempts at the examination in order to pass.

In January 2017, the format of Part A changed, with an increase in the number of questions from 270 to 300 and an increase in time from 4 to 5 hours.[5]

Examination preparation

A large and varied collection of commercial revision resources are available which can improve a candidate's chances of success. These resources include courses, books, online question banks and mobile applications.

See also


  1. "Welcome to MRCS From September 2008". Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  2. "Newcastle Medical Journal: The Journal of the Newcastle Upon Tyne and Northern Counties Medical Society, Volume 25". 1956 - Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northern Counties Medical Society. Retrieved 12 March 2017. Thomas Michael Greenhow (1792-1881) (Fig. 4) was born on 5th July, 1792, the son of Edward M. ... He was educated at Edinburgh University and became M.R.C.S. (London) in 1814. He entered the army as an assistant surgeon....
  3. Brennan, PA; Sherman, KP (December 2014). "The MRCS examination--an update on the latest facts and figures". British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 52 (10): 881–3. doi:10.1016/j.bjoms.2014.08.011. PMID 25218314.
  4. "Your Guide to the MRCS" (PDF). The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. 1 October 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  5. "NOTICE – Changes to MRCS Part A Examination – Start Date – January 2017". Retrieved 1 August 2017.
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