RACGP abandons online exams for AKT and KFP

4 minute read

It’s back to in-person paper-based tests for the 2100 candidates this July.

The RACGP has abandoned plans to conduct its July Applied Knowledge Test and Key Feature Problem fellowship exams online, telling registrars this afternoon that they will be reverting to paper-based exams, at least for “the foreseeable future”.

CEO Paul Wappett told TMR the college had been working with a vendor to develop an online exam platform, but was ultimately not confident in the end product.

“We’ve been doing a lot of rigorous and continuous testing around the platforms,” said Mr Wappett.

“In one of the recent tests that we did, we found an issue that we thought might impact candidates’ exams. While we corrected the particular bit of code, we still were not prepared to take any risk at all that would lead to a bad candidate experience.

“We know how important that is to our candidates. We’ve seen firsthand in terms of the impact that has if candidates have a bad experience.”

Mr Wappett said the problem with the online format the college tested was in the “marking end”.

“Our KFP is a very unusual exam in the way that it’s configured relative to other exams, and there was an issue relating to the marking side of things,” he said. “We were confident that the candidate would have a good experience sitting the exam, but just the marking elements of it were a concern for us.

“After a lot of consideration and careful deliberation, we’ve made the decision to part ways with our current online exam provider. We’re going to be taking another look at what assessment looks like, over time, and but in the short term, we’ll be continuing to run those two exams as a paper-based exam.”

Mr Wappett refused to name the online vendor, saying there were “ongoing negotiations”.

It is believed that 992 candidates are due to sit the AKT exam on 7 July, with 1190 due to sit the KFP on 8 July.

On 9 October 2020 the RACGP was forced to cancel an online KFP exam with about 1400 trainees when it was unable to resolve a system outage with the external provider, after the exams were postponed from July that year due to the covid pandemic. Trainees were granted a re-sit in December.

The third exam the college supervises, the Clinical Competency exam, is already established as an online format, and will continue to be so, Mr Wappett said. The next CCE will be held in a couple of weeks’ time.

One registrar sitting both exams in July told TMR she had received notification from the college at 3.20pm today.

“It’s unsettling,” she said. “You put your life on hold and there’s constant hoop-jumping.”

The college had not yet told registrars where they would be sitting their exam, she said. The notification she received today said exam venues would be confirmed in the week of 5 June.

Dr Karyn Matterson, president of the General Practice Registrars Association spoke to TMR before the RACGP made it aware of the changes.

“As the peak body representing GP Registrars – regardless of their training pathway – we look forward to RACGP engaging with us on any changes to its exam format,” she said.

“We welcome positive changes to any of the RACGP exams, and anticipate these will include consideration of the exam process for registrars undertaking exams into the future.

“We also welcome all other communication from the RACGP about exams, especially the long-awaited release of the report into the 2020.2 KFP exam failure.

“While we recognise that there has been a great deal of work done by RACGP since that time to protect ongoing exam experiences for registrars, I am aware that many of our members are understandably still wanting answers as to the events of October 2020.

“We trust that the College will release its findings imminently to rebuild any lost trust from the exam failure.”

This story has been updated.

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