FRCPath Haematology Examinations explained
The ‘Fellowship Examination of the Royal College of Pathologists’ (FRCPath) are a stringent set of examinations, structured into two parts, designed to test and ensure competence for want-to-be Haematology Consultants. Successfully completing the FRCPath is a requirement for obtaining the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) for Haematology.
FRCPath haematology part one involves undertaking two 3-hour long exams; one of which contains essays, the other multiple choice questions (MCQ). The content of part one focusses on general haematology, transfusions, haematological oncology and haemostasis & thrombosis. While FRCPath haematology part two requires the student to undertake three written exams (on Morphology, Transfusion and Coagulation) and one oral exam that will challenge their ability to analyse and interpret a wide variety of clinical data as well as display their in-depth knowledge. As such, most students undertaking the part two exams have accrued two to three years of experience within the field of haematology.
Multiple choice questions for haematology and core medical trainee expertise make up half of the FRCPath part one examinations. These MCQs are tough to prepare for as they can interrogate any niche within the part one curriculum and 75 out of the total of 125 MCQs take the form of extended matching questions (EMQ) or vignettes, designed to challenge knowledge and decision making within a specific clinical context. A focussed effort on revising the MCQs is integral to a student undertaking the FRCPath part one exams.
Preparing for the MCQs
As discussed, the MCQs within the FRCPath part one consists of classic MCQs (one question with one correct answer and four incorrect answers), EMQs and vignette styled questions. Becoming comfortable with interpreting and answering these questions is an important part of revising for the FRCPath part one and undertaking MCQ practice questions is highly recommended.
Extended matching questions in FRCPath part one provide the student with a list of set answer options and a string of MCQs in general pathology and haematology that must be answered from one of the options within the answer list provided. As shown in the example below:
Both malignant and non-malignant plasma cell proliferations are associated with a number of morphological changes. For each morphological feature described below choose the single most appropriate morphological term from the following answer list (A-G):
A) Mott Cell
B) Russell Body
C) Flame Cell
D) Psuedo Gaucher cell
F) Lymphoplasmacytoid cell
G) Mature plasma cell
H) Plasma cell granuloma
- Multiple pale bluish-white, grape-like accumulations
- Cherry-red refractive round body within the cytoplasm
- Vermilion staining glycogen-rich IgA
- Abundant cytoplasm, dense round deposits, and an eccentric pyknotic nucleus
- Abundant basophilic cytoplasm with occasional paranuclear hofs, open chromatin, prominent central nucleoli
Each option may be used once, more than once, or not at all. EMQs such as the example provided are included within the FRCPath part one haematology questions and answers to ensure the student can demonstrate their distinct and discrete knowledge. Unlike ‘classic’ MCQs, EMQs are difficult to guess or to rule out incorrect answers one by one. The need to revise content thoroughly and undertake practice questions is elevated by the inclusion of EMQs.
Vignette questions within the FRCPath part one exam are phrased in such a way to place the student within a specific scenario, providing all the relevant clinical information needed and demand the student to determine a diagnosis or correct interpretation of the data. As well as testing the knowledge within the curriculum, the vignette multiple choice questions in general pathology and haematology are designed to ensure the student can apply their ability to analyse and their clinical skills.
Haematology Questions and Answers
The content interrogated by the multiple choice questions and answers are on haematology and its pathology. The questions specifically focusses equally on the modules of blood transfusion, general haematology (including laboratory management), haematological oncology and haemostasis & thrombosis, demanding the student to exhibit their knowledge on haematological disease, therapeutic modals and laboratory & clinical practices in their MCQ answers.
Revision of this curriculum can be achieved by undertaking practise haematology MCQs with answers, reading & taking notes on the curriculum, undertaking online e-learning interactive modules and by using other online materials. It is advised that plenty of revision is undertaken before attempting the FRCPath part one haematology multiple choice questions and answers examination due to niche-nature of the questioning and the requirement to analysis vignette-style contexts and clinical data.
Using MCQ Practice Questions for Part Two Revision
Although the FRCPath part two examinations do not use the multiple choice question format, an enormous range of technical details within the haematology-based (Morphology, Transfusion and Coagulation) curriculum can be scrutinised. As such knowing the ins-and-outs of the syllabus is required. Using MCQs to practise is an ideal way for the student to ensure that they have this knowledge as the format allows for both broad and specific questioning and revision of a large scope of content.
For more information on the FRCPath: