AKP exam issue on 21 September and FAQs

We would like to apologise to those candidates affected by the system build and technical issue with navigating the software in the Part 2 of the AKP exam on 21 September 2022.  

Update, 20 October 2022 - We finalised our investigations. We are working closely with our supplier to ensure this doesn't happen again, and we have outlined next steps - see news item.

We are working with the software supplier as a priority to fully investigate what went wrong. We want to identify and rectify this issue, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.

We are currently working through the implications of this issue, how it will affect candidates and what we can do to mitigate where possible. Please bear with us whilst we do so, and we will be in touch with those directly affected with as much explanation as we can and what options we can offer.

Please see the FAQs below which we added to this page at 17:45 on 22 September. 

We hope to be in touch with those affected by early next week, but for any immediate questions, please contact theoryexams@rcpch.ac.uk.


What caused the problem affecting the AKP examination on 21 September 2022?

There was a technical issue with exam navigation affecting part two of the AKP examination. At this time, we are working closely with our supplier to identify the root cause of the problem and to ensure this never happens again in future.

A solution was found to allow us to facilitate some candidates to re-start this part and complete their examination. 

Were candidates who took the exam via online invigilation affected by this issue?

At this time, we have no reason to believe candidates who took the AKP examination via online invigilation were affected by this issue and we are processing results as normal for these candidates.

Why were some candidates allowed to re-start the second part?

Wherever possible, we aimed to facilitate candidates to re-start part two and complete their examinations.

In some cases, test centres – particularly in countries where the time difference meant that the second part of RCPCH examinations takes place in the evening – were not able to remain open to facilitate candidates re-starting part two.

In other cases, the College took the decision to not allow centres to re-start part two for any candidates when it became apparent that exam conditions had not been maintained for some or all candidates. 

Can I re-take the second part to complete my attempt at AKP?

The Applied Knowledge in Practice examination comprises two parts to make up the complete examination. It is not possible to take a single part at one diet and the other part at another to make a complete examination. The examination comprises carefully selected questions to ensure coverage of the syllabus and cannot be taken separately – the reason there are two parts is to allow for a break for candidates during what would otherwise be an exceptionally long examination. 

We have decided that we cannot offer candidates the opportunity to make up part two outside of our usual exam delivery structure as candidates had sight of at least some questions and have therefore had access to look up topics or answers to those questions. 

Can the RCPCH use the results from the completed part 1 of AKP to provide candidates with results for the Applied Knowledge in Practice examination?

The Applied Knowledge in Practice examination is a single examination comprising 2 parts to allow for a break for candidates during what would otherwise be an exceptionally long examination. It is a logistical break rather than an indication of two separate assessments. This means that all aspects of the syllabus which must be tested through the AKP examination are not covered solely by part 1 or part 2 but rather by the combination of the two. We cannot appropriately assess candidates' knowledge and skills based on only part of this examination.

The MRCPCH qualification provides for candidates to move through training programmes and take on more responsibility in treating their patients – therefore, we must be absolutely certain that we are assessing what we are purporting to assess.

Were my answers for part 2 submitted and will they count towards my examination?

At this time, the RCPCH is still in the initial stages of the investigation into the issue and have now begun to process results. We are aware that some candidates may have completed version 1 of part 2 and some will have completed version 2 of part 2 of the AKP examination. Whilst this is ongoing, in tandem with our investigations into exam conditions at test centres, we are unable to provide individual confirmation of submission and validity of what has been submitted.

We are working hard, at pace, to identify any appropriate next steps for candidates and as soon as we are able to do so, we will contact affected candidates directly with this.

What will happen to answers submitted in the first attempt at part two, before candidates were stopped to re-start?

For candidates who re-started part 2, this attempt will be the only one processed. Any answers submitted prior to the fault being identified and candidates being asked to stop and then re-start part two will not be considered. 

Where candidates were able to complete part two without re-starting the part, this attempt will be processed. 

What if I fail because of the disruption caused by this problem?

Firstly, it is important that we are clear that it is not possible for the College to change results where a candidate fails to achieve a passing mark. 

We are not able to provide results based upon completion of a single part of the examination – this means that if you were unable to complete part 2, we will not publish any results and the attempt will not count. As these are regulatory examinations, we cannot relax our standards setting process or offer a reduction in the pass mark required, under any circumstances. 

Will candidates who fail their AKP 22.3 examination be able to re-book for the 23.1 (Jan 2023) diet?

At this time, we intend to stick to our usual results publication schedule, despite the problems we are working through. This would mean that results are published before we open the application window for the 2023.1 AKP exam diet. If there are changes to these dates, we would make it our top priority to inform candidate both directly (for those affected by the technical issue at the September examination) and via the website for all candidates.

Will I get a refund?

Candidates who were unable to complete their AKP examination on 21 September 2022 will be offered a free attempt and priority booking for the 2023.1 AKP examination. Full details of this will be provided to affected candidates, in due course. 

If you are not able to sit at the 2023.1 AKP examination, you will have the option to request a 100% refund of your examination fee. 

Will RCPCH cover travel expenses incurred because of the disruption?

Unfortunately, the College is not able to provide for any additional expenses incurred because of this issue.

Did RCPCH know about the disruption before I started the exam?

The international nature of MRCPCH examinations means that exam centres in locations which have significant time differences ahead of UK time were made aware of the issue earlier in the day. The issue only came to light when the part 2 examination had begun.

As soon as we heard there were technical problems, we immediately began working closely with our supplier and their technical support team to identify the problem. Our priority was to find the scale of the problem and to identify if it was something that we could implement a fix for to allow candidates to complete their AKP examination. This took several hours of intense work, and we asked our supplier to provide advance warning of a potential issue while we continued to work on a solution. 

As soon as it became apparent that, for some centres, we would be able to re-start with a new version of the exam part, we asked that centres still in progress stopped candidates and maintained exam conditions until they could be re-started.