As of October 3, 2018, eligible candidates may apply for the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I that will be offered in Canada and internationally starting in April/May 2019. In addition, candidates whose application has been accepted will be able to schedule their exam appointment online as of mid-January. The launch of application and scheduling marks an important step in the Medical Council of Canada (MCC)’s ongoing efforts to improve the candidates’ experience surrounding its exams.
Improving through change
Following recommendations made by the Assessment Review Task Force (ARTF) in 2011, the MCC recently introduced the new Blueprint for the MCCQE Part I (as well as for the MCCQE Part II). “The ARTF’s report also included a recommendation to offer the MCCQE Part I more frequently,” says Yves Lafortune, Director of the Evaluation Bureau at the MCC. After years of hard work, the project is coming to completion and the MCC is pleased to confirm that the exam will be offered four times in 2019 and five times as of 2020.
In addition to the flexibility linked to the frequency of the administrations, in its transition to the new exam, the MCC also sought to make it more accessible to Canadian and international medical students and graduates. To facilitate this, the MCCQE Part I moved to a vendor-delivered exam. Prometric was selected to administer the new MCCQE Part I in Canada and in over 80 countries worldwide. “With the help of Prometric’s established infrastructure and experience in the administration of exams, the MCC will ensure that the candidate experience is similar across all centres, that the equipment is standardized and that the staff training is uniform,” explains Mr. Lafortune.
Increased flexibility can also be found in the application process. Applications used to be offered only twice per year, during pre-determined periods.
What is exciting with the new MCCQE Part I is that applications are available continuously.”
Manager of Operations, Repository and Registration Centre, MCC
Ms. Buttle adds that the ongoing processing of applications is beneficial to candidates who, as of January 2019, will be able to schedule their exam through Prometric and select their desired location from the many sites available around the world as soon as their application has been processed and accepted.
An important learning curve
The MCC has previously collaborated with Prometric to administer the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE). The last MCCEE session was held in November 2018. Although both the MCCEE and the MCCQE Part I have assessed candidates in a computer-based manner, the MCCEE only contained Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQ) while the MCCQE Part I has a different structure. “It contains MCQs as well as Clinical Decision-Making (CDM) questions, which include write-in and short-menu questions,” says Becca Carroll, Manager of Computer-Based Testing at the MCC. The MCC and Prometric worked collaboratively to build CDM questions into the Prometric system.
Furthermore, to support this exam, the MCC introduced over 12 new technical systems. This reveals one of many exceptional initiatives directed by MCC staff. “The launch has been made possible by talented individuals from all levels working together, thinking thoughtfully about systems and potential issues, and being thorough with all the case scenarios that may come up and how they can be addressed,” affirms Ms. Carroll. She adds that tremendous learning has occurred over the last four years. “This project taught us how to accomplish our work in the most effective way. It has required everyone to be engaged and to think critically to deliver the best possible exam.” As for Mr. Lafortune, he is “most proud of everyone who has been involved with this project, including committees and all staff across the organization.”
The MCC created information sheets to help Canadian and international medical students and graduates navigate through the MCCQE Part I information. “There are a few nuances in how candidates apply and schedule their exam and we wanted to summarize what is different from previous MCCQE Part I administrations,” explains Ms. Carroll. These documents cover different topics from application to results, including eligibility, scheduling and preparatory resources.
“Change is constant,” declares Mr. Lafortune. “We are at the tail end of implementing the task force recommendations for the MCCQE Part I, but we are already asking the question: Where do we want to be in a few years?” The MCC will continue to look for ways to improve its exams and incorporate technological innovations in the years to come.