(Updated October 23, 6:40 a.m., ET)
As the pandemic evolves in Canada and abroad, we continue to ensure that we are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to be mindful of the impacts on the medical community and to ensure the safety of all involved in our exams.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way in which we deliver performance assessments such as Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). We are adjusting the Medical Council of Canada’s Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part II so that we can still offer candidates the opportunity to challenge the exam and deliver a high-quality and psychometrically defensible exam in the face of COVID-19 challenges.
The following FAQs address the changes that are being implemented for the February 2021 MCCQE Part II session.
Changes are being made to the content, format and delivery of the exam, as well as to the reporting of results.
These changes include:
- moving to a one-day rather than two-day format
- modifying physical examination stations (for ex., removing physical examination so that candidates refrain from touching standardized participants (SP) in any way and instead having candidates describe to the examiner what manoeuvres they would perform and what they are looking for)
- applying physical distancing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) measures
- removing exam day activities that require candidates to congregate in groups (e.g., orientation)
- delivering candidate orientation and information online
- replacing pilot stations with wait stations
- providing candidates a pass or fail result only; no total score or subscores will be reported. As a result, no Supplemental Information Report will be provided
Failure to deliver the exam will result in a delay for candidates on their route to licensure.
The provincial and territorial Medical Regulatory Authorities (MRAs) consider the MCCQE Part II one of the main national standards to issue a license and, in many provinces, it is part of the legislative requirement defining licensure.
The MCCQE Part II assesses the knowledge, skills and behaviours that all physicians practising in Canada should be able to demonstrate, regardless of specialty.
We have made adjustments to the exams during COVID-19 as our priority is to ensure the safety of our candidates and all involved in our exams. We have worked collaboratively with stakeholders to make the changes necessary for the delivery of the MCCQE Part II with physical distancing and other personal protective measures, as per the guidelines set by local public health authorities, in place at the available examination centres. On exam day, candidates, as well as everyone on site, must fill out and provide a signed copy of the COVID-19 screening questionnaire. Anyone answering ‘yes’ to any of the questions will not be admitted to the exam.
No, candidates will complete the exam in one day rather than over two days for the February 2021 session.
Candidates will take the exam on one day: February 7, 2021. The February 2021 session has been added to increase exam capacity.
Candidates will be presented with 10 clinical scenarios, which include 7 encounter stations (T stations) and 3 paired stations (C stations).
A waiting station will be included in both the T and C stations.
The number of stations, the types of stations and the lengths of stations has not changed. The two types of stations will be occurring on one test day rather than two.
Given the evolving pandemic and the potential for changing travel restrictions, we are asking all MCCQE Part II candidates to select a centre that is closest to the place they are residing, in the same province where possible, to limit unnecessary travel. It is important to also remain informed of travel restrictions in effect. For those living outside of Canada, the exams will continue to be delivered at least twice yearly and those candidates can take the exams when they feel it is safe to travel.
Efforts will be made to match candidate centre choices to available centre spaces. Therefore, centre choices will also factor into the candidate selection process.
With the support of the MCC Council, our team is already in the process of pivoting to the option of virtual delivery of the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, including the MCCQE Part II.
We will make every effort to offer candidates an alternate location or date to take the exam.
Given the evolving pandemic and the potential for changing travel restrictions, you are strongly encouraged to select an exam centre that is closest to you, in the same province where possible, or that you feel confident you will be able to travel to.
Should you need to withdraw from the examination due to reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, you will be eligible for a refund. If you proceed with a withdrawal at any point, you will need to go through the pre-application, random selection and application processes again once you are ready to take the exam. The MCC will not be responsible for any costs, fees, penalties or losses that candidates might incur (e.g., relating to travel, childcare or wages).
No, a prescheduling request is not required if a candidate cannot travel due to the pandemic. Candidates may select “I do not agree to be assigned to any other available centre” if their centre choices cannot be accommodated.
The changes implemented currently apply to the February 2021 session.
The MCC continually monitors its exam sessions and the current context in which they are delivered. It will reassess following these exam sessions.
No. The February 2021 MCCQE Part II will meet the same Blueprint as previous MCCQE Part II sessions. The MCCQE Part II assesses the candidate’s core abilities to apply medical knowledge, demonstrate clinical skills, develop investigational and therapeutic clinical plans, as well as demonstrate professional behaviours and attitudes at a level expected of a physician in independent practice in Canada.
Centre changes or cancellations
It was our full intention to proceed with a safe and psychometrically defensible Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Exam Part II at as many sites as we were able to across the country.
However, due to recommendations by Public Health and decisions by some of our exam sites, we are no longer able to administer the exam to a large enough reference group cohort. We were left with no choice but to cancel for all sites for this exam session.
We delayed making this decision to cancel for as long as possible, in the best interest of those candidates who wished to proceed with their exams.
Unfortunately, our October 2020 session is cancelled at all centres.
We will keep you updated as decisions on future exam sessions are made. Once details are confirmed, the MCC will work directly with candidates and make every possible effort to transfer their exam application to a future session.
All options to successfully deliver future sessions are currently under review. At the present time, the February 2021 in-person exam session is still planned.
If you prefer to withdraw from the exam, a refund of the full application fee will be reimbursed to your credit card. If you select this option, when you are ready to take the exam you will need to go through the pre-application and random selection process again. If you are invited to apply, you will need to pay the application fee in effect at that time.
The October 2020 session is cancelled at all centres.
As soon as details on future exam options are available, the MCC will inform candidates and stakeholders. Please monitor your account and the website for further updates.
Given the high stakes nature of these non-computer-based exams and our commitment to delivering psychometrically defensible exams, the MCC determined in March that we could not rapidly switch to deliver them in an online format, and still maintain the quality of these assessments.
Now, with the support of the MCC Council, our team is in the process of pivoting to the option of virtual delivery of the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), including the MCCQE Part II. This will reduce our reliance on contracted locations for in-person exam delivery and mitigate against the challenges presented by the pandemic.
We are hoping to offer candidates a virtual option for the MCCQE Part II in the next 12 months. The MCC has monitored development of other virtual OSCEs and is currently working with like organizations to build on their learnings.
As soon as future exam options are confirmed, we will inform candidates and stakeholders. Please monitor your account and our website for further updates.
We are currently exploring the addition of dates in the first part of 2021 to address the backlog. We understand the impact of this cancellation decision on candidates, especially those previously impacted by the postponed May 2020 exam dates.
As soon as future exam options are confirmed, the MCC will work directly with candidates and make every possible effort to transfer their exam application to a future session. Please monitor your account and our website for further updates.
All options to successfully deliver future exams are currently under review. At the present time, the MCC intends to continue the February 2021 in-person exam session as planned.
As soon as details on future exam options are available, the MCC will inform candidates and stakeholders. Please monitor your account and our website for further updates.
Application and eligibility
During the pandemic, we will review and accept exam applications and other requests based on electronic copies of all required documents, which can be submitted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or fax (1-613-248-5234). These documents include certified identity documents and Certified Identity Confirmation forms.
The original certified copies must still be submitted. Therefore, please send your original certified paper copies by courier or mail.
Due to high volumes, there may be a delay in our standard processing times.
Candidates cannot have their May 2020 application transferred to May 2021. If candidates wish to take the exam in May 2021, they will need to withdraw their May 2020 application for a full refund and add their name to the pre-application list for the May 2021 session when the pre-application period opens. They will have to pay the application fee in effect at that time.
Given the evolving pandemic and the potential for changing travel restrictions, and the possibility that you have moved, we are asking candidates to review and update their centres. You are strongly encouraged to select exam centres that are closest to you, in your province where possible, or that you feel confident you will be able to travel to.
Candidates who wish to be transferred to the February 2021 session will receive a message at a later date to ask them to select their centre choices.
We are committed to prioritizing those further along in their training, including those who have completed all requirements for licensure except for awarding of the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC), which requires a pass result for the MCCQE Part II. In the current context, efforts will be made to match candidate centre choices to available centre spaces.
Therefore, centre choices will also factor into the candidate selection process.
Instead of handing the examiner your candidate label, you will read your candidate code out loud to the examiner; the examiner will then repeat the code back to you for confirmation.
As a precaution, candidates will not be permitted to touch standardized participants during their assessments. Candidates will instead be required to tell the examiner what physical examination manoeuvres they would perform and what they are looking for.
Please consult our Exam day page for more information.
Candidates taking the exam will be required and expected to view the candidate orientation online before the day of the exam.
In order to avoid large gatherings, an onsite orientation will not be provided on the day of the exam for the February 2021 sessions.
Yes, candidates will be required to sanitize their hands upon entering every room, even if they will not be examining standardized participants.
There will be a brief break between the 14-minute encounter stations (T stations) and the 6-minute paired stations (C stations).
You will be permitted to bring a small nut-free, low to no smell and noise snack in a zip lock bag and a clear plastic bottle of water to be carried in your lab coat pocket.
Eating is permitted during your break in designated areas. Water is also permitted during the examination where social distancing can be maintained.
All exam candidates, exam site staff, physician examiners, and standardized participants will be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while at the exam centre. Participants will be provided with an earloop disposable (non-medical) face mask when they arrive at sites. You may bring your own mask if preferred; provided that it covers your mouth, nose and chin and that it is clean (not visibly soiled or wet). Gloves will not be required.
Candidates will have to briefly remove their mask in order for staff to confirm their identity.
Scoring and results
There will be no change to the overall approach to scoring each station. As before, OSCE stations will be scored by examiners.
Examiners will observe your interactions with Standardized Participants (SPs) and score your performance on each station according to a standardized scoring instrument that includes a checklist of tasks, an answer key for oral questions, and rating scales.
Standardized guidelines are used for exam administration, the training of examiners and SPs, and the use of predetermined scoring instruments for OSCE stations.
No total score or subscores will be reported. Candidates will only receive a final result of pass or fail.
Due to content, format and delivery changes that are specific to the February 2021 MCCQE Part II session, we cannot statistically link the total scores to those on the previous exams (i.e., the MCCQE Part II implemented between October 2018 and October 2019), or to those on future exams. To support valid interpretation and use of exam results without advantaging or disadvantaging candidates over time, total scores will therefore not be reported. Consequently, we cannot apply the same previously established MCCQE Part II pass score to the February 2021 session.
Candidates will receive a final result of pass or fail.
A rigorous standard-setting exercise will be conducted with a panel of physicians to establish the standards for differentiating between “pass” and “fail”. Standard setting is a process used to define an acceptable level of performance and to establish a pass score for one or more target levels of performance.
The pass score that will be applied to the February 2021 MCCQE Part II will be established using the same method and process that were previously used in October 2018.
Please note that, as total scores will not be reported to candidates, the established pass score will not be published.
Passing the February 2021 MCCQE Part II and the MCCQE Part II in previous sessions means that a candidate’s performance met the minimum standard required at the level expected of a physician in independent practice in Canada. Consequently, the pass/fail results will be comparable.
The SOR will report two result types: pass or fail. No total score or pass score will be reported.
As subscores will not be reported, SIRs will not be provided to candidates for the February 2021 session.
Candidates will still be awarded the LMCC if they pass the MCCQE Part II during the February 2021 session and we have confirmed they have completed at least 12 months of postgraduate clinical medical training.
The MCCQE Part II is a criterion-referenced exam in which a candidate’s status (i.e., pass or fail) is determined by comparing his/her performance against an established performance standard, but not against the performance of other candidates. We do not regulate the percentage of candidates in each result category. The number of candidates that fall in each category depends solely on the performance of the candidates relative to the standard, and not on the performance of candidates relative to each other.
As with previous MCCQE Part II forms, “pass” indicates that a candidate’s performance on this examination met the minimum standard at a level expected of a physician in independent practice in Canada. The pass/fail results from the February 2021 MCCQE Part II should be treated the same as the pass/fail results from the previous MCCQE Part II.
Test accommodations may not be automatically applied to the next session. Candidates should reach out to email@example.com to inquire about the status of their request and we will advise them if any additional information is required and if they are eligible to receive test accommodations for this session.
Yes, candidates can submit a new request for test accommodations. They should follow the regular process, which would include sending a completed copy of the Request for Test Accommodations Form and the supporting documentation to Candidate Affairs.