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The Pastest Complete Guide to the MRCP Part 1 Exam
  • 20 Mar 2023
  • MRCP

What is the MRCP Part 1?

The MRCP(UK) Part 1 exam evaluates a candidate's understanding and knowledge of clinical sciences relevant to medical practice and significant disorders to a level appropriate for entry to specialist training. This knowledge serves as a critical foundation for clinical reasoning and is vital for learning during postgraduate training to develop disease understanding and treatment. The exam is designed for doctors who have completed at least one year of active medical employment. It serves as a means to assess whether candidates possess the necessary level of medical knowledge required to enter specialist training. The exam covers a broad range of topics, and candidates are expected to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of each. While previous knowledge is necessary, candidates must also show that their understanding of medical science has developed since graduation.

How long is MRCP Part 1?

The exam has a two-paper format, which can be taken online or at an exam centre. Each paper lasts for three hours and has 100 multiple-choice questions in a 'best of five' format. This format assesses not only core knowledge and comprehension but also the ability to interpret information and solve clinical problems. Each question has five possible answers, with one being correct, and four being alternatives to the correct answer, which are plausible distractors. The candidate selects the best answer from the five options. There is no negative marking, and one mark is awarded for each correct answer.

The exam's content is based on a blueprint that outlines the papers' composition, including the probable number of questions under each broad clinical topic heading. The blueprint was updated in 2020 to reflect the new terminology used in the new UK Internal Medicine curriculum. Details of the blueprint can be found here.


Number of questions*

Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics15
Clinical sciences**25
Endocrinology, diabetes and metabolic medicine14
Gastroenterology and Hepatology14
Geriatric medicine8
Infectious diseases14
Medical ophthalmology4
Palliative medicine and end of life care4
Renal medicine14
Respiratory medicine14

* This should be taken as an indication of the likely number of questions – the actual number may vary slightly.

** Clinical sciences comprise:

Cell, molecular and membrane biology2
Clinical anatomy3
Clinical biochemistry and metabolism4
Clinical physiology4
Statistics, epidemiology and evidence-based medicine5

What are the differences between MRCP Part 1 & 2?

The MRCP Part 1 exam covers a wide range of topics related to internal medicine, such as cardiology, gastroenterology, haematology, and infectious diseases, among others. The exam assesses a candidate's knowledge of clinical sciences relevant to medical practice and common or significant disorders to a level appropriate for entry to higher specialist training. The Part 2 exam covers a broader range of topics related to internal medicine, including clinical skills, such as history-taking and communication, as well as topics related to management, ethics, and law.

Level of Difficulty: The MRCP Part 1 exam is considered a knowledge-based exam that tests a candidate's ability to recall and apply facts and concepts related to internal medicine. It is generally considered less difficult than the Part 2 exam. The MRCP Part 2 exam is considered more challenging than the Part 1 exam and is designed to assess a candidate's ability to integrate and apply knowledge to complex clinical situations.

Images: Whilst the MRCP 1 exam is solely text based questions, the MRCP Part 2 exam contains several images across both papers.

Overall, while the MRCP Part 1 and Part 2 exams are both written examinations that assess a physician's knowledge in internal medicine, they have significant differences in terms of exam format, content, and level of difficulty. It is essential for physicians to understand these differences to prepare effectively for each exam and progress in their careers in internal medicine.

MRCP 1 Exam Dates

To take the MRCP Part 1 exam, the first step is to book a test date. The exam is held four times a year, and you can find the dates for 2023 below. Please note that the current fee is £460 for UK students and £616 for international students.

To register for the exam, create an account on the MRCP UK website and follow the application process.

The upcoming exam dates are as follows:

Exam dateApplication periodResults by
2 August 202329 May – 5 June 202313 September 2023
18 October 202314 – 21 August 202329 November 2023

Guide to MRCP Part 1 Exam Day

This guide provides candidates taking the Part 1 exam at a test centre with information on what to expect before and on the day of the exam. If you are taking the exam online, please refer to the relevant instructions.

Before Exam Day:

- Confirm the location of your test centre, which is specified in your admission document.

- Plan your travel to the venue and allow for any possible transportation delays.

- Print a copy of your admission document.

- Verify that the name on your admission document matches your ID, and contact MRCP(UK) if there are any discrepancies.

- Review the MRCP(UK) Regulations, especially Sections 8 (Format of MRCP(UK) Written Examinations) and 10 (Attendance at, and conduct during, the MRCP(UK) Part 1 and Part 2 Written Examinations).

On Exam Day:

- Arrive at the test centre at least 30 minutes before the start of the exam.

- Be seated at your desk at least 15 minutes before the start of Paper 2.

- Store your bags, coats, and electronic devices away from your desk.

- Bring enough food and drink for the 3-hour exam, but note that candidates in Lahore, Pakistan cannot bring food or drink into the venue.

- Keep your food and drink on the floor under your desk for invigilators to monitor your exam materials.

- Dress appropriately and bring extra warm clothing as the temperature in the venue may not suit everyone.

- Bring your own lunch, as you may not be able to buy any near the exam venue.

- Show your ID before the start of each paper.

- Keep your admission document accessible for invigilators to collect after the final paper.

- Follow all instructions given by the Chief Invigilator.

- Leave your stationery on your desk at the end of each paper.

- Exit the exam venue quietly to avoid disrupting other candidates who may still be working.

On Exam Day, Do Not:

- Bring your own stationery or calculators as they will be provided.

- Write any notes on your admission document; use your question booklet instead.

- Wear hoods during the exam, as the Chief Invigilator will ask you to remove them.

What's a good score for MRCP Part 1?

So, what is considered a good score in MRCP Part 1? The answer to this question varies based on several factors, including the difficulty level of the exam and the average score of candidates who sat the exam in a particular year. However, generally, a score above 60% is considered a good score in MRCP Part 1.

To put this into context, the pass mark for MRCP Part 1 is currently set at 540, which equates to 60%. Candidates who score below this mark will not pass the exam and will need to resit it to progress in their medical career. On the other hand, candidates who score above 60% are more likely to secure a place in their desired specialty training program.

Once the correct answers for both papers are tabulated, the majority of scores will fall within the range of 200 to 800. This is achieved by utilising equating, which takes into account the difficulty level of each question and the overall exam.

It's worth noting that the MRCP Part 1 exam is a challenging exam, and achieving a good score requires extensive preparation and study. Candidates should have a solid foundation of medical knowledge and a good understanding of clinical practice. It's essential to study the exam syllabus thoroughly and practice answering questions under exam conditions.

How to prepare for the MRCP Part 1

To prepare for MRCP Part 1, it is important for all candidates to gain practical experience in caring for medical emergency patients. In addition to practical experience, going through sample questions is a crucial step in exam preparation. Sample questions help you understand the format of the exam and recognise patterns in the questions. Completing mock exams under timed conditions is also important as there are hundreds of questions in the MRCP exams.

MRCP Part 1 Quote

Merely memorising concepts is not sufficient when preparing for MRCP Part 1. It is essential to comprehend the reasoning behind why certain answers are correct and others are incorrect. Understanding the underlying principles allows you to apply your knowledge to unfamiliar scenarios and answer questions with greater accuracy.

Pastest's Qbank is an excellent resource for this purpose. In addition to providing explanations for the correct answers, the Qbank also provides explanations for every incorrect option, allowing you to comprehend why it is incorrect and how to avoid falling into similar traps in the future. By utilising this feature of the Qbank, you will gain a more in-depth understanding of the concepts and become better equipped to tackle the exam. In addition, Pastest now has a Microlearning section to provide additional learning on a tricky topic!

If you know any doctors who have completed the MRCP qualification, seeking their advice can also be helpful. They can share their experience and give you tips on how to approach the exam.

How will you receive your MRCP 1 results?

Equating is used to calculate the results of MRCP Part 1 exam. This method helps to ensure that candidates are given similar overall scores for corresponding levels of performance in different parts of the MRCP exams.

Previously, candidates used to receive their results in hard copies through the post. However, now, candidates can view their exam results by logging into their MRCP(UK) account on the website.

For more information regarding the exam and how Pastest's MRCP Part 1 resource can give you the best platform to pass, see here.

  • 20 Mar 2023
  • MRCP