Obstetrics & Gynaecology Education
MRCOG, DRCOG and O&G Revision
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DRCOG Explained

The DRCOG, or Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is one of the most common postgraduate exams taken by GPs. It tests your knowledge and competence in obstetrics, gynaecology, sexual health, and family planning at a level appropriate for UK General Practitioners.

DRCOG courses yet…

You get five goes at the DRCOG. Yes … FIVE! Our aim is to ensure you pass first time around: it’s much cheaper and far less stressful.

Before we start it is important you understand what you are up against and how you are being tested. This is the key to any exam: you have to know what is expected of you and how you are being marked.

What is the format of the exam?

The DRCOG was revised in March 2006 with a second albeit much smaller revision in October 2010.

The DRCOG paper now comprises three different question formats:

  • SBAs: single best answer questions
  • EMQs: extended matching questions
  • MCQs: multiple-choice questions

These are tested in two papers as follows:

  Time Format Questions Marks Total %
Paper 1 90mins EMQs 30 3 ½ 105 30
SBAs 18 1 ½ 45 13
Paper 2 90mins MCQs 200 1 200 57

The RCOG suggest taking an hour for the EMQs and 30 minutes for the SBAs. This is just about right but most people tend to find the EMQs are harder and can take longer than an hour. We advise you do the SBAs first and move onto the EMQs once done. This means you can use all the time you have left to do the EMQs. Just make sure you do not take more than 30 minutes on the SBAs. It’s just not worth it for 45 marks of a possible 150.

Please note the OSCE is no longer part of the DRCOG Exam: “Hallelujah”!

I wish they would stop introducing new types of question: what’s a SBA? The SBAs comprise five options, labelled from A to E, and a lead-in statement, which you must read carefully as it tells you exactly what you need to do. You just have to ‘pick the single answer that best fits’ as the name suggests. Just to stress this - that’s one answer guys! There may be more than one correct answer but the game is to decide which is the best??

How about EMQs? Is there a trick to answering them?

Unfortunately EMQs are tricky – they are meant to be so they can discriminate between candidates. In contrast to an MCQ where you have a 50-50 of guessing correctly, EMQs provide you with several options (the ‘extended’ bit) form which you need to identify the most correct answer (the ‘matching’ bit): simples! In the DRCOG there are 10 EMQs and each is associated with 3 questions so you answer 30 questions in total. You have at least an hour so that’s 2 minutes per question which is more than enough.

The RCOG provide worked examples of SBAs and EMQs on their website. Make sure you do them as the questions are repeated in the exam albeit with different answers.

What is the pass mark?

One question everyone seems to want to know is what is the pass mark? Well the simple answer is there isn’t one and even if there was it does not matter! The exam is standard set and the pass mark will vary from exam to exam and from year to year. The RCOG use a modified Angoff method to determine a threshold or cut-off mark that needs to be achieved to pass. This is determined by a panel of experts, comprised of consultants and GPs, who review the questions and make a collaborative decision about the minimal standard expected of a competent GP trainee.

Standard setting is a good thing as it recognizes the fact each exam varies and that certain questions are more difficult than others. If you happen to sit a very tricky exam, for example, the pass mark will be lower which is good to know. Unfortunately the contrary is true in that the pass mark goes up if the exam is thought to be easier than usual. There is no fixed cut-off that you need to achieve therefore and no quota for the number of candidates that can pass: it could be 100%! Sadly that is never the case and around 25-30% of candidates do not make the grade. We think we have the tricks to make sure you’re not in this group.

What are we being tested on?

You are tested on 7 Modules as outlined in the RCOG’s syllabus for the DRCOG. In brief these include:

Module 1: Basic Clinical Skills

Key components include the clinical features of common obstetric and gynaecological problems, verbal and non-verbal communication, and patient confidentiality.

Module 2: Basic Surgical Skills

Common obstetric and gynaecological surgical procedures and their complications, consent, and both pre-operative and post-operative care.

Module 3: Antenatal care

Key components include peri-conceptional care, antenatal care, maternal complications of pregnancy, common medical disorders, therapeutics in antenatal care, antenatal screening, and infections during pregnancy.

Module 4: Management of Labour and Delivery

An understanding of induction and augmentation of labour, normal and abnormal labour, fetal wellbeing and distress, regional anaesthesia, analgesia, operative delivery including caesarean section, and obstetric emergencies.

Module 5: Postpartum Problems including neonatal problems

Includes normal and abnormal postpartum events and management of immediate neonatal problems including neonatal resuscitation.

Module 6: Gynaecological Problems

Key components include benign gynaecological problems (adolescent gynaecology, menstrual disorders, pelvic pain, and urogynaecology), reproductive medicine and early pregnancy loss, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS, contact tracing and National screening programmes), and pre-malignant and malignant conditions of the female genital tract (including screening and palliative care).

Module 7: Fertility Control (Contraception and termination of pregnancy)

Contraception and termination of pregnancy including the laws related to abortion, consent, child protection, and the Sexual Offences Act.

© 2013 Teale Fenning | Website by Cosmetic Digital | Last updated Jan 2015