The MRCS exam aims to assess trainee surgeons in the breadth of both basic sciences and the principles of surgery. It is an intercollegiate exam, hence the syllabus, format and content are common to all surgical Royal Colleges in the UK and Ireland.

The MRCS Part A is delivered via computer-based testing centres in partnership with Pearson VUE, please see below for further information. 

The MRCS is fully-recognised by both the Irish Medical Council and the General Medical Council (UK).

Upcoming MRCS Part A exam date

The MRCS Part A exam is held three times per year – January, May and September.

Exam date: Tuesday, 9 January 2024 (Applications now open)
Closing date: Thursday, 19 October 2023
Location: Global Pearson Vue Centres

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The Intercollegiate MRCS Part A is a five-hour MCQ exam broken down into two papers:

  • Paper 1: Applied basic sciences
  • Paper 2: Principles of surgery in general

Part A is a five-hour MCQ exam consisting of two papers, an AM paper of three hours and a PM paper of two hours duration, taken on the same day.

To achieve a pass in Part A, you will be required to demonstrate a minimum level of competence in each paper in addition to achieving or exceeding the pass mark set for the combined total mark for Part A.

Candidates may attempt to pass Part A of the MRCS exam six times.

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The MRCS Part A is delivered via computer based testing centres in partnership with Pearson VUE, which has a network of over 5,600 computer-based test centres around the world. 

Candidates will be able to book a Pearson VUE centre in which to sit their examination when the booking window opens. 

Candidates will be required to schedule their examination via the Pearson VUE website within the schedule timeframe and will be provided with details on how to proceed with scheduling the examination by the College.  The schedule window opens approximately 2 months before the examination date. 

No refunds or transfers will be available to candidates who have not logged into the Pearson VUE portal to book a test centre during the above schedule window. Candidates who are having difficulty securing a seat must notify their college of application by email during this booking window timeframe.

To be eligible to sit the MRCS exam, prospective candidates must hold a medical qualification that is acceptable to the Medical Council in Ireland for full or temporary registration or to the UK General Medical Council (GMC) for full or provisional registration.

First-time applicants whose names do not appear on the registers of the Irish Medical Council or General Medical Council (UK) must submit their original certificate (or an authenticated copy) of a medical degree acceptable to the councils of the four colleges by email to

The MRCS examination will only test knowledge at the level expected of all trainees completing core training irrespective of their chosen specialty.

The syllabus is divided into 10 modules:

Module 1  Basic Science Knowledge Relevant to Surgical Practice
Module 2 Common Surgical Conditions
Module 3 Basic Surgical Skills
Module 4 The Assessment and Management of the Surgical Patient
Module 5 Perioperative Care of the Surgical Patient
Module 6 Assessment and Early Treatment of the Patient with Trauma
Module 7 Surgical Care of the Paediatric Patient
Module 8 Management of the Dying Patient
Module 9 Organ and Tissue Transplantation
Module 10 Professional Behaviour and Leadership Skills

For detailed information on the MRCS syllabus please visit see our guidance and regulatory documents or visit

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