FFICM Examination outcome and update – 10 January 2022

Published 10/01/2022

Following the release of the October 2021 FFICM exam results with an unexpectedly low OSCE pass rate, and our previous updates* we are now able to provide an outcome for candidates. Thank you for bearing with us; we hoped to have had a firm response for you before now and we apologise for this delay.

The pass mark will stand, as will all passes awarded

The FICM Board, after reviewing feedback from candidates, trainers and both co-opted and elected members, and seeking expert statistical advice, asked the GMC in its regulatory role to consider accepting a norm referencing approach to determine the pass rate.

The GMC has advised us that its standards (p39, para 72) cannot support the use of norm-referencing. The Faculty acknowledges the GMC’s position on this issue and thanks them for the time, consideration and guidance given to these concerns and for taking on board the impact on individuals.

Given that investigations have found no delivery error in the examination itself or any clear or single cause for the low OSCE pass rate, there is no justification for retrospectively changing the passing standard, or other adjustment to allow candidates to pass on the MCQ and SOE alone, nor by using any other recalculation to alter the pass mark.

The Board has concluded that, under such circumstances, there is no alternative but that the results must stand.

To confirm: all passes awarded will stand.

FICM will transfer candidates who failed the October 2021 OSCE for a free re-attempt in April, and the October 2021 OSCE will not count towards the total number of attempts

In view of the uncertainty of the last two months, and to acknowledge the patience that candidates have shown while we investigated options, the FICM Board is putting in the following enhanced support:

  • As discussed previously, the OSCE component of the October 2021 diet of the FFICM will not count toward any candidate’s total number of examination attempts.
  • Candidates who failed this OSCE will have a free re-attempt at the OSCE at the next, or a subsequent, sitting. We have transferred the applications for eligible candidates for a place in the April sitting and they will receive further details, including how to opt out if the timing is not right for them, and what to do if they were also unsuccessful in the SOE. In the event that we have more applicants for the sitting than we have spaces, we will apply the FICM prioritisation policy (see section 4 in the exam regulations document).

The RCoA Board, which has a fiscal responsibility role, has approved the expenditure of some of FICM’s existing, unallocated funds for education, training, and exam purposes. The FICM Board has decided to use this money to provide a free re-attempt at the OSCE in order to support candidates in this cohort who failed the OSCE part of the exam.

In making this gesture, we want to recognise that this cohort of candidates has the motivation, commitment to ICM and intelligence equivalent to previous historical cohorts, though their experiences and teaching have been different consequent to the pandemic.

The one-off free re-attempt offered by the FICM Board is intended as a gesture of goodwill and in recognition of the uncertainty of the past couple of months, not the result of investigations casting any doubt as to the integrity of the examination as delivered.

We hope this financial contribution will provide some comfort to candidates who may have been worried about the financial impact of their result.  

Your views have also affected how we will run exams in the future

As well as providing individual support, candidates and trainers at our engagement events were keen that we put in additional measures for future diets. With this in mind, we are reviewing all exam processes – both from within FICM and as part of the broader independent review of exams being led by the RCoA that is taking place in the Spring of 2022.

In relation to reassurance around exam processes, we will undertake an investigation of additional standard setting methodologies for future diets of the exam to reinforce the examination standard and to provide further reassurance to members of the exam’s validity. In addition, we will invite external independent experts to participate in our exam setting and delivery processes, and we will revise and update our Examiner code of conduct in order to ensure consistent practices.

We have established a Working Party to improve the range of examination resources available to candidates. We thank all of you who have written to us expressing interest in joining the group. We will not be able to accommodate all applicants within the group itself but will aim to seek views of the broader ICM community as resources develop.

Our elected Lead Trainee Representative is furthering discussions with the nationwide group of local StR representatives who took part in the engagement event held to discuss the issues.

We are sorry for the uncertainty and upset caused by the necessary, detailed process of investigation. While the decision about the pass rate will be disappointing to many, we hope that candidates and trainers will be reassured that FICM has considered and investigated options to the greatest possible extent and put financial measures in place to reduce the impact as far as possible.

Listening to you has focused the FICM Board on the improvements and assurances that matter the most – we want you to have confidence in our commitment to improving the exam experience and we will continue to engage further with our members to deliver this.

The RCoA has committed to online exams until April 2022 but will decide before that date whether to return to face to face or remain virtual. We will report as soon as we can when the outcome is confirmed for the next FFICM OSCE/SOE.

* Previous updates