MRCP Part 1

Part 1 is the first step on the path to becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians. Once you have 12 months clinical experience, a doctor is eligible to commence sitting exams for the MRCP diploma. The context is broad, and spans all of the medical specialities.

The curriculum is aligned to the UK Specialty Training Curriculum for Core Medical Training.

The exam at a glance

  • One-day examination
  • Two three-hour papers
  • 200 mutiple-choice (best of five) questions
  • No images
  • Sat in an examination hall.

History of The MRCP Exam

In 1518, a small group of distinguished physicians, led by Thomas Linacre, petitioned King Henry VIII to found a Royal College of Physicians.

In the early years, the RCP played a crucial role in regulating the medical profession in England. It was responsible for inspecting apothecaries’ wares (a task shared with the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries), and it also held the authority to grant licenses to those qualified to practice medicine. This role was significant at a time when unqualified practitioners were common and could cause harm through lack of medical knowledge.

Over the centuries, the RCP has been instrumental in advancing the field of medicine. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and continued to grow and adapt to the changing landscape of medical science. One of its most notable contributions was the publication of the ‘Pharmacopoeia Londinensis’ in 1618, a standard reference for the composition of medicines, which was a significant step towards the standardisation of medical practice.

In the 19th century, as the medical profession underwent profound changes with the rise of scientific medicine, the RCP continued to be a key player in these developments. It worked to improve medical education and played a part in the founding of the General Medical Council (GMC), which took over the role of medical licensing. The MRCP exam was first run in 1859. It has evolved substantially since then.