How to prepare for MRCOG Part 1 (Written)

Obstetricians and gynaecologists need to progress through obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) training in their quest to work as a consultant in the UK. The difficulty faced is that you must complete multiple exams and components to enter the speciality training program alongside busy training rotations, ARCP, work and personal commitments. We’ve searched the internet and spoken to former candidates to create a one-stop guide for all of your MRCOG resources and guidance. If you want to be in with the best chance of passing your MRCOG exams on the first try, you’ve come to the right place.

Membership in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists curriculum consists of three components MRCOG Part 1, MRCOG Part 2 and MRCOG Part 3. You are required to have your Assessment of Training (AoT) ​before applying for MRCOG Part 3 or the MTI scheme. These elements are designed to test skills, knowledge and behaviour in training and push advancements in women’s healthcare globally. You must complete MRCOG Part 2 and MRCOG Part 3 before progressing from ST5 to ST6. The MRCOG Part 3 is part of the assessment and validation process for entry to the UK Specialist Register. For the non-UK based candidates, passing this exam and being awarded MRCOG means that if you want to work in the UK, you would be exempt from the entry exams e.g. PLAB route.

If you are a doctor and looking for Obstetrics and Gynaecology locum or permanent opportunities, you can browse our O&G vacancies.

All you need to know about MRCOG Part 1

How do I get into Obs & Gynae training?

The most direct career pathway for an O&G consultant involves 5 years in medical school, 2 years in foundation training as a junior doctor (FY1 and FY2) and 7 years in speciality training (ST1-ST7). Where you go in O&G depends upon your abilities and interests. After 5 years of general training, the programmes offer you a wide range of options including taking advanced skills or subspecialty training. You can apply for a subspecialty training post after you have completed ST3-ST5 training and passed the MRCOG part 2 examination.

Applying for O&G Speciality Training

All applications are managed by Health Education England (HEE) and you apply through a platform called Oriel. The application and interview process is as follows:

  • Online applications open mid to late November usually for 3-4 weeks
  • Candidates are longlisted for eligibility and shortlisted based on application answers
  • Candidates will need to preference all programmes in which they would accept a post
  • Shortlisted candidates are invited for an interview around March/April
  • Offers made once scores are collated and applicants ranked. Offers will be made until all posts are filled

Learn more about applying for your ST3 training in obstetrics and gynaecology via Oriel.

Who needs to sit the MRCOG exams?

Trainees in GMC-approved, UK training programs are required to complete the MRCOG examinations to progress through basic, intermediate and advanced speciality training to become a consultant.

All UK medical undergraduates have to complete the 2-year foundation programme before applying to speciality training. They then receive a national training number (NTN). All doctors entering postgraduate speciality training must have completed 24 months of experience since gaining their primary medical qualification, whether in the UK or another country and must provide evidence of completion of foundation programme competencies. Remember that you will need to be registered with the GMC before coming to work in the UK.

You can enter MRCOG Part 1 any time after obtaining your medical degree. You need to attempt Part 2 within 7 years of your Part 1 exam date. There is no restriction on the length of time between attempts of Part 2 or Part 3 MRCOG. The RCOG training matrix requires to have completed Part 2 and Part 3 of MRCOG by the end of ST5 and trainees will be unable to start ST6 or Advanced Training Skills Modules (ATMs) without their exam.

How to prepare for MRCOG Part 1

The MRCOG Part 1 is the first step toward the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) membership. In this guide, we explain the eligibility for applying, exam style, what to read, how to prepare, how to apply, and more.

What is the format of the exam?

MRCOG Part 1 is a two part-computer based test (CBT) to evaluate your understanding of the relevant basic and clinical sciences. The exams are both Single Best Answer (SBA) papers which comprise 100 questions to be answered in two and a half hours each. Each part counts for 50% of your overall mark. This format means there will be five options, one correct answer and plausible alternatives. You will need to choose the best answer of the five possible options to be awarded one point.

Paper 1

2.5 hours (150 minutes)

100 single best answer questions

Lunch break (1 hour)

Paper 2

2.5 hours (150 minutes)

100 single best answer questions

How much does MRCOG Part 1 cost?

At the time of writing this book, the price of the exam was as follows:

UK and Republic of Ireland£508
Band A£613
Band B£528
Band C£421

Fees are banded using the international membership subscription country bandings. Banding applies to the centre in which you are taking the exam and not the country of residence of the candidate.

How do I register?

Applications for MRCOG Part 1 are filtered through stages. The first stage is the expression of interest where candidates sign up with RCOG to register their intention to take the Part 1 exam. After expressing interest, candidates have their eligibility checked. Shortly after eligible candidates who completed an expression of interest form will receive an email between 1 pm and 5 pm (UK time) on the day the booking application window opens with instructions on how to complete the exam booking process. The booking application window closes after approximately 6 weeks and the results are released a month later.

Book your place on one of the RCOG exams.

Am I eligible to apply for MRCOG Part 1?

You will need to hold a medical qualification approved by the GMC for registration purposes. RCOG has developed an eligibility application for all candidates to complete before their first attempt. Please allow up to 4 weeks after the published closing date for your Part 1 Eligibility application to be processed.

Find out more information on eligibility to book MRCOG Part 1

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

How can I prepare for MRCOG Part 1?

The O&G core curriculum was updated in August 2019 and the Part 1 syllabus and examination structure and the content are now mapped, alongside Part 2 and Part 3, according to a ‘blueprint’ of the UK curriculum. This means that the Part 1 examination no longer resembles the examinations in other countries and candidates must pass all three O&G examinations to demonstrate knowledge in all parts of the MRCOG curriculum. The consensus is that the first MRCOG exam is more straightforward than the other parts, but preparation is still key to memorising the basic and clinical science and the theoretical concepts.

Curriculum preparation

The RCOG core curriculum is divided into 14 Capabilities in Practice (CiP) which are high-level statements setting out what a doctor should be able to do at the end of training. Part 1 MRCOG Capabilities in Practice (CiPs) and Knowledge Requirements are contained in the MRCOG Syllabus Curriculum 2019 document.

The only CiP expected in Part 1 MRCOG syllabus is CiP 6: The doctor takes an active role in helping self and others to develop over the following 15 knowledge areas:

  • Clinical skills
  • Teaching and research
  • Core surgical skills
  • Postoperative care
  • Antenatal care
  • Maternal medicine
  • Management of labour
  • Management of delivery
  • Postpartum problems
  • Gynaecological problems
  • Subfertility
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Early pregnancy care
  • Gynaecological oncology
  • Urogynaecology and pelvic floor problems

You can read an in-detail summary of the knowledge requirements and principles within each area here.

It is beneficial to understand the domains tested in the paper and the percentage that each of these domains appears. The domains vary from sitting to sitting but the areas included across paper 1 and paper 2 are as follows:

  • Understanding Cell Function: physiology, endocrinology and biochemistry
  • Understanding Human Structure: anatomy, embryology and genetics
  • Understanding Measurement and Manipulation: biophysics, epidemiology and statistics, data interpretation and pharmacology
  • Understanding Illness: immunology, microbiology, pathology and clinical management

Historically, more questions tend to be weighted towards anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and data interpretation & clinical management. Keeping this alongside your study materials will allow you to cross-reference the domains weighted more heavily where you should focus some additional time. One example would be pathology usually accounts for more than 20 of the SBA’s whereas biochemistry is less than 5, it would be more beneficial to allocate time to the bigger topics where you will score more points. Please remember that the domains vary from sitting to sitting.


Online revision guides and testimonials from doctors recommended a minimum of 3 months but ideally 6 months to get a good understanding of the basic sciences and concepts. The longer you give yourself to prepare the less intense the volume of revision will be. The rotation you are doing alongside your revision can be an advantage when it comes to studying. Whilst it might seem appealing to hit the books during your daytime ward-based rotations, it may be better to coordinate these rotations when you need to practise verbal diagnosis and presenting for MRCOG Part 3.

Some doctors have used their FY1 year as they are still in the revision mindset from medical school to sit their MRCOG Part 1. This method would allow you substantial time to work, learn and prepare for MRCOG Part 2 which is notoriously difficult. Some former candidates have said that a portion of the questions in Part 1 are based on clinical knowledge and postgraduate experience working in Obs & Gynae would be advised. It’s worth considering this as O&G rotations in FY1 are unlikely and not all doctors manage to secure an O&G rotation in FY2. For some of you, your first time working practically in Obs & Gynae could be in ST1 and ST2.

The RCOG training matrix requires you to have completed Part 2 and Part 3 of MRCOG by the end of ST5 and trainees will be unable to start ST6 or Advanced Training Skills Modules (ATMs) without their RCOG membership. With the entry into ST1/CT1 so competitive, MRCOG Part 1 already passed could be advantageous if you can pass MRCOG Part 1 during your foundation years.


When it comes to selecting further reading for the basic and applied sciences, this is where a good understanding of the syllabus will help you. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of taking the time to review the curriculum to structure your revision.

The Part 1 MRCOG sub-committee has compiled a recommended reading list here.

The list is quite thorough so former candidates who have passed MRCOG Part 1 highlighted these as their absolute “must-reads”:

  • Basic Sciences for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (5th ed) by Tim Chard and Richard Lilford
  • Revision Notes for the MRCOG Part 1 (Oxford Specialty Training: Revision Texts) by Arisudhan Anantharachagan et al
  • MRCOG Part One (2nd ed) by Alison Fiander and Baskaran Thilaganathan

Top resources for practice SBA questions:

  • SBAs for the Part 1 MRCOG by Andrew Sizer and Neil Chapman
  • MRCOG Part 1, 2nd Ed: 400 SBAs: Second Edition (500 Tips) by Katherine Andersen, Tara Woodward and William Dooley

Question Banks

High volumes of question bank practice give you time to familiarise yourself with the question style which in turn will allow you to work through them at a pace that should allow you to clear the 100 questions in 150 minutes in both parts 1 and 2 of MRCOG Part 1. The time and energy using question banks are much less however in your career and some tricky exam questions, an understanding of the concepts will be needed so it is best to combine this method with additional reading.

  • PassMRCOG – this is good for volume and highlighting any areas of weakness so can complement your revision structure, but we have been advised is not very similar to the exam.
  • Strat-OG – useful content

TOP TIP – Take your time reading the questions and challenge yourself during some of your practice sessions to think of an answer without reading the options available. After you have checked the options available see if yours is there and if it is the single best answer in comparison to the other options.


YouTube is an invaluable free study resource. You can search MRCOG Part 1 followed by any domain such as “Anatomy” and you will find channels with bitesize and thorough videos covering various topics within that domain.

Previous Papers

Previous papers are sometimes referred to as “recalls”. Numerous candidates who have passed MRCOG Part 1 have stated the importance of going through old exam papers. We would recommend doing this at least 4-6 weeks before as you may find some of the questions challenging but if you refer back to the syllabus, the questions will become more approachable. There are also around 30% repeats in each sitting (diet) so you may find some of the questions you practice some up in your exam.

Practice Exam

In the last month of revision, focus heavily on practice exams. This will give you the confidence to get through the questions in the set time frame.

Top tips for revision

  • The smaller subjects can be easier to get to grips with and, on occasion, a little more interesting than the anatomy and physiology curriculum, but it is a mistake to spend too much time on them.
  • Take your time reading the questions and challenge yourself during some of your practice sessions to think of an answer without reading the options available. After you have checked the options available see if yours is there and if it is the single best answer in comparison to the other options.

If you are a doctor and looking for Obstetrics or Gynaecology locum or permanent opportunities, you can browse our O&G vacancies.

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

Register today

Search obs & gynae jobs

We offer a huge variety of temporary and permanent jobs to choose from.

Search and apply

Leave a comment