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New Paper IIA specimen questions

Paper IIA is designed to test candidates' critical appraisal skills and requires candidates to answer questions about material in a journal article and the application of the material to a specific public health problem.

As part of the examination development timetable, the Part A Development Committee (PADC) reviewed Paper IIA in 2013/14. The aim of the review was to ensure that the paper remained fit for purpose and reduced the writing burden for candidates, and to consider the marking burden associated with the paper. The marking burden results from candidates having the tendency to produce overly lengthy answers to the critical appraisal question which regularly include many pages of writing for which marks could not be awarded.

Following extensive discussions, it was agreed that the substance of the paper, being the examination of critical appraisal skills, would remain the focus, with the expectation that a full journal article would remain the basis of the question setting. However, the committee agreed that to improve the focus of the paper, the critical appraisal question would be adjusted so as to make it more specific, focused and with a word limit provided for the answer. The committee agreed that candidates would not be penalised for exceeding the count, provided that the number of words beyond that indicated was not excessive.

Following General Medical Council approval, the new Paper IIA is scheduled to be used first at the June 2015 Part A examination. Following notification of this change in October 2014, which was accompanied by a specimen paper to illustrate the change, the Faculty of Public Health has now published an additional specimen paper. Both can be found on the right-hand menu alongside the original letter that was circulated to notify stakeholders of the change to the paper.


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