Records of the RCOG Examination Committee

Scope and Content

Records of the RCOG Examination Committee, including signed minute books, (1929-1988), meeting agenda and circulated papers (1929-1996), examination results and assessors reports (1934-1949), sample case notes and commentaries submitted for the MRCOG examination (1940-1954), examination regulations for Members and Diplomates, and for the admission of Fellows (1942-2001), blank and completed samples of log books for the MRCOG examination (1982-2002), sample examination papers for the DRCOG and MRCOG (1937-2006), together with an attendance book for the examiners of the diploma in obstetrics dining club (1960-1961).

Administrative / Biographical History

The RCOG Examination Committee was established by RCOG Council in 1929 as a standing committee of the College. Its first chairman was Dr T Watts Eden and its members comprised representatives from Scotland, Ireland and the provinces, with the College president, treasurer and two honorary secretaries as ex-officio members. The Committee's function was to select candidates for Membership through an examination of applications and qualifications. Examinations were carried out by a panel selected by the Committee.

The Committee drafted the regulations for the Diploma and Membership examinations. The first membership (MRCOG) examination was held in the Summer of 1930: from this time it has been held twice yearly. The Membership examination was designed for doctors who wished to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. In 1931 the Committee first agreed a fee should be levied on those taking the examination, although there was much wrangling over this issue. There was no formal decision to make candidates take a written examination, rather the process evolved from the initial examinations process of considering a candidates case history and qualifications. As the examination regulations evolved, the examination process became more analogous and less subjective. In 1970 it was decided to split the examination into two parts, known as the MRCOG Parts I and II: the first Part I examination was held in September 1970 and the first Part II examination the following year. The first Diploma in Obstetrics examination (DRCOG) was held on 2 March 1934: primarily this examination has been intended for general practitioners (GPs) who wish to include obstetrics and gynaecology as part of their service to patients. Organisation and administration of the examinations became the responsibility of the College's Examination Department.

Inspection and recognition (or otherwise) of hospitals was a regular part of the Committee's work from 1935 until 1944, when the Hospital Recognition Sub-committee was established. In 1947 this committee was recognised as a separate standing committee, removing the hospital recognition function from the Examination Committee. The process of managing the MRCOG and the DRCOG led to the establishment of the following sub-committees of the Examination Committee, to deal with specific issues:



Part 1 MRCOG

Part 2 MRCOG EMQ's

Part 2 MRCOG essays

Part 2 MRCOG MCQ's

Part 2 MRCOG oral

By 2008 the functions of the Committee were listed as:

Responsible for establishing the content and recommending to the Education Board the format of College examinations.

Responsible for setting, marking and reviewing questions and question papers.

Ensuring the standard, validity and fairness of examinations and producing appropriate pass lists.

Overseeing the function of the Examination Department, including communication with candidates, the logistics of preparing for examinations and communications with overseas centres.

Recommending to the Education Board suitable individuals to become DRCOG and MRCOG examiners and suggesting suitable Members and Fellows to be Members of the various Sub-Committees of the Examination and Assessment Committee.

On a regular basis, reviewing relevant overseas examinations, in particular those where successful candidates gain exemption from the Part 1 MRCOG. Giving advice and help to overseas examinations and, from time to time, making recommendations with regard to suitable College representatives to be external examiners for these examinations.

Joint responsibility for the RCOG/London School of Tropical Medicine Diploma in Reproductive Health in Developing Countries.

Responsible for the examination for the Advanced Training Programme in Obstetric Ultrasound organised by the Standing Joint Committee of the RCOG/Royal College of Radiologists.


Chronological where possible and as received.

Access Information

Permission from senior College staff is required for external access to College records less than twenty years old.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and reproductions are supplied at the discretion of the College Archivist.

Custodial History

Internal transfers at various times from RCOG departments, including the Education Department and the Membership Relations Department.

Related Material

Other papers held at the RCOG related to the Examination Committee include the following:

RCOG/B4 Papers of the Hospital Recognition Committee

RCOG/M51 Papers of the MRCOG Working Party, 1991

RCOG/M54 Papers of the DRCOG Working Party, 1993

RCOG/A4/16/21 Correspondence and other records concerning RCOG examinations in the UK and abroad, including a copy of the Warwick University report 'Why Do So Many Fail?: a Comparative Study of the Examination Success Rates of 1968 Cohorts of Candidates For Membership of the RCOG'

RCOG/A4 Papers of the RCOG Presidents

RCOG/A7 Papers of the RCOG Honorary Secretary

RCOG/K Records of the Overseas Doctors Training Scheme

S34/69/12 Papers of Sir William Fletcher Shaw relating to examinations

RCOG/J4/5 Correspondence and papers of the JCC working party on JCC certificate regulations for DRCOG candidates

S13 Sir Eardley Holland's memorandum on the desirability of a clinical examination in obstetrics and gynaecology, 1927