After the recent failure of the Applied Knowledge Test and Key Feature Problem exams, the RACGP says it is listening to candidates’ feedback and is trying to avoid repeating any past mistakes.
And in a bid to move forward with greater transparency, the RACGP recently hosted a pre-recorded question and answer session about the recent KFP and AKT exam failure.
More than 350 questions were submitted to the RACGP ahead of the webinar, which was published last week on the college’s website.
A main theme that emerged was a request from registrars for more information about the upcoming re-sits of the KFP and AKT.
The college confirmed late last month that both exams would take place in new paper-based format with the KFP on Friday 4 December and the AKT the following day, on Saturday 5 December.
During the webinar, Dr Krystyna de Lange, chair of the national faculty for GPs in training, said candidates should stay tuned for more information about venues for the rescheduled exams over the coming weeks.
But she also acknowledged the varied views among registrars concerning the new paper-based format.
“Even with these announcements for the re-sit, there’s still going to be a lot of variability [of opinion] and not everyone is going to be happy with the direction we’ve taken,” Dr de Lange said.
“But the decision to go with a paper-based option has been made after careful consideration.”
In response to candidates’ concerns about changing from a computer-based test to one on paper, the RACGP said it had increased the duration of the KFP exam by 30 minutes.
And Dr de Lange said while the style of this examination only required short answers in point form, rather than long responses, she hoped the extra time would ease fears around answering questions by hand.
More information was also revealed about the testing centres, with the RACGP looking at using about 40 smaller venues to deliver the exams. This is in contrast to previous years, where the RACGP would have one large metropolitan testing centre in each state and territory, supported by some smaller regional venues.
“We want to minimise the travel requirements for candidates so they aren’t further put out by this, but we also have to be mindful that we have to minimise the number of candidates in any one centre, so the number of candidates gathering are manageable from a COVID perspective,” Dr de Lange said.
Special arrangements are also being made for residents who might live more than 200km from one of the examination venues, or candidates who are overseas and unable to return because of COVID travel restrictions.
“I know this leaves unanswered questions and I know that there are many concerns, worries and queries in circulation but please know that we are working hard to get as much detail out to you as soon as we possibly can,” Dr de Lange said.
During the webinar, RACGP CEO Dr Matthew Miles also responded to candidates’ questions about the cost of fellowship exam fees.
Dr Miles said that the questions about how exam funds were allocated were valid but said a major expense in exam delivery was attributable to the staffing required to deliver the fellowship assessments.
He said that one third of all RACGP staff were involved in the college’s education services team, and the provision of exams.
“There’s also a lot of work that goes into developing, administrating and then assessing the exam, so that’s a really significant cost for the college,” he said.
Despite some suspicions to the contrary, the RACGP does not make any profit from running the various fellowships exams but runs them at a loss.
As TMR reported last week, while the KFP, AKT and the OSCE (this year known as the RCE) generated $15.7 million in revenue in 2019-20, they cost $16.9 million for the RACGP to deliver, leaving the college $1.2 million out of pocket.
But during the recent webinar, Dr Miles said his “great hope” for the future would be that the remote delivery of fellowship exams would eventually reduce the costs of delivering the assessments to candidates.
Dr Miles said a goal for the future would be to deliver high-quality fellowship exams at a lower cost to candidates.