Timing of examinations
The Part 1 and Part 2 examinations in neuropathology are each held twice a year, in Spring and Autumn, usually at the same time as the corresponding examinations in general histopathology.
· Candidates will be admitted to an examination if they are in a recognised training programme or have fulfilled the recommended training requirements. The College generally recommends that candidates attempt Part 1 after two years specialist training and Part 2 after four years specialist training. Candidates may apply for each part of the examination when they and their educational supervisor or other appropriate trainer feel that they are sufficiently prepared.
· Candidates for Part 2 (practical examination) in neuropathology must have passed Part 1 MRCPath examination in either general histopathology or in histopathology slanted towards neuropathology.
Structure, format and content of the examinations
Part 1 (histopathology slanted towards neuropathology)
· Paper 1 is exactly the same paper as for candidates in general histopathology, covering general pathological principles, usually not organ-specific.
· Paper 2 contains questions related to general principles of neurological disease and specific neuropathological disease entities.
· Papers are each for three hours and contain five essay-type questions, of which four are to be answered.
The examination is held over three days. The autopsy occupies one day, which may be separate from the rest of the examination and may even be at a different location from the remaining two days. Although there is some scope for flexibility, the format is typically as follows:
· a full autopsy, with a focus on the nervous system and related structures
· macroscopic examination of fixed brains and spinal cord
· surgical neuropathology
· intraoperative diagnosis (frozen sections and neurocytology)
· cliniconeuropathological correlations
· oral examination.
Standards and marking methods
· Examiners are required to be registered with the GMC, have practised as consultant neuropathologists for several years, hold MRCPath or FRCPath and take part in the College continuing professional development (CPD) and external quality assurance (EQA) UK neuropathology schemes.
· Discrepancies are reviewed by the Chair of the Panel of Examiners for Neuropathology.
· All results are ratified by the College Examinations Committee.
· This examination has a closed marking system that generally means that the range of marks a candidate can achieve varies from 47 to 55. Any feedback should be interpreted with this in mind. Candidates are expected to achieve a mean score of 50 across the two papers to pass.
· The candidate should be able to demonstrate competence appropriate for a doctor shortly to practise as an independent consultant neuropathologist and to enter the CPD and EQA schemes.
· The candidate will have covered the objectives of the neuropathology training programme and will have knowledge and abilities commensurate with 45 years experience in a neuropathology training environment.
· Each examination is marked by two examiners who have been approved as members of the Panel of Examiners for Neuropathology of the College. One is an internal examiner from the institution hosting the examination and one is an external examiner.
Examination by thesis or published work
The regulations and procedures for obtaining MRCPath by this route are the same as for general histopathology (see guidelines elsewhere on website). Candidates should be aware that, because this route does not test competence in clinical/diagnostic skills, acquisition of the MRCPath by this route may not make them eligible for appointment as a consultant neuropathologist.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I find further information about neuropathology in the UK?
Where is the training information for neuropathology?
Information is available on the College website at http://www.rcpath.org/index.php?PageID=313
Where can I get copies of past papers?
Sample papers and general points on answering the written papers is given on the College website at http://www.rcpath.org/index.php?PageID=127
Should I take Part 1 in general histopathology or slanted to neuropathology?
It is important to be aware that passing Part 1 slanted to neuropathology does not satisfy the entry criteria for Part 2 in general pathology. In other words, Part 1 slanted to neuropathology is appropriate only for those who are committed to a career in neuropathology.
Should I take Part 2 in neuropathology or general histopathology?
Passing MRCPath in neuropathology is a clear demonstration of knowledge commensurate with an independently practising neuropathologist and a commitment to neuropathology as a career. However, MRCPath in general pathology does not disqualify a potential candidate from applying for a consultant neuropathologist post. In a competitive situation the candidate with demonstrated Neuropathology credentials may be favoured by the appointments committee although this would depend on the requirements of the post and, of course, the selection of a candidate is entirely up to the appointments committee.
How does the MRCPath examination relate to CCST?
Satisfactory completion of MRCPath by examination is likely to be a major component of the review process leading to CCST. For further details see: CCST and eligibility for consultant posts, sections 1719, in Membership on the Basis of Published Works elsewhere in the Examinations section of the College website.
Will I be able to practise diagnostic neuropathology if I gain Part 2 by submission of published works or thesis?
MRCPath by submission of published works or thesis does not involve assessment of diagnostic abilities and is not likely to be part of acquiring a CCST. For further details, see sections 2023 of Membership on the Basis of Published Works elsewhere in the Examinations section of the College website.