Diplomate Examination - FAQs for online remote examinations

Please find a list of FAQs below that should answer the majority of queries. We will be updating these regularly and providing more information on how the exam will run as soon as we can.

The application window will be open from 7th August 2020 to 21st September 2020

The first sitting in 2021 will be held on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th March.

The application window for the Spring 2021 sitting will open on 1st December and will close on 15th January 2021. Please do not submit your application form until the application window has opened.

If you have already sent in an application form, the Examinations Co-ordinator will contact you with the link to make payment during the application window. It will not be necessary to re-send your form unless your details have changed.

If you have asked to be added to a waiting list, the Examinations Co-ordinator will contact you with an application form to complete along with a link to make payment.

If you have not already applied or have asked to be added to a waiting list, please complete the application form here. The Examinations Co-ordinator will process this and contact you with a link to make payment.

Yes, please let FPH know if you intend to sit the exam in another location so we can ensure that the necessary requirements are in place. Please also let the office know as soon as possible if you later decide to sit the exam in a country other than that specified on your application form.

Online remote invigilation (also known as proctoring) essentially recreates the exam hall experience online. Candidates sit the exam online at a place of their choosing, such as the home or workplace, using their own hardware. The exam is invigilated by a proctor who will watch a maximum of 6 candidates at any one sitting. The proctor is not visible to candidates but you can communicate with them throughout the exam.

Remote invigilation will be at a ratio of 6 candidates to 1 invigilator which is a smaller ratio to the exam hall. Candidates’ computer browsers will be locked down to prevent navigation away from the test screen. Invigilators are carefully trained in body language and will raise suspected misconduct for FPH to review. Candidates will be recorded for the duration of the exam to enable this review to take place. Candidates will be asked to pan their webcam around the room to show the invigilator that there is not another person in the room and there are no notes or textbooks in the room. They may also be asked to roll up their sleeves and show that they do not have any ear pieces etc.

The banking rules will still apply and candidates can miss a sitting before re-sitting their remaining paper. For example, if you banked a paper at the sitting in June 2019 and missed the January 2020 sitting, you will be able to carry your banked paper to the next scheduled sitting. If you are unable to make the next scheduled sitting please email educ@fph.org.uk and this can be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Under the circumstances, we will be able to allow flexibility on this rule with the support of your Training Programme Director or employer. If you banked a paper in January 2020, you can miss the next scheduled sitting and carry the banked paper over to the subsequent sitting.

Yes. The exam papers will continue to be structured in the same way as for previous sittings.

Yes, the online system will have notepad functionality and a keyboard that allows you to type in formulae and equations.

We plan to keep the format of the exam as close to the current set-up as possible. We plan to run the next sitting over two days, Paper I on day one and Paper II on day two.

The online system has word count functionality so it will not be necessary to count up the number of words manually.

There will be a window in-between the results of the November exam being released and the application closing date of the March sitting to allow candidates chance to re-apply.

The process for marking will remain the same and therefore we do not anticipate that the timeframe for the publication of results will change. Candidates will be notified about when they will receive their results when they receive their candidate pack. This will be sent approximately two weeks after the closing date for applications.

Approximately two weeks before the examination date candidates will be sent details on how to log into the exam and all candidates are required to log onto the exam platform to check they have a laptop or PC with the appropriate specifications to take the exam and to familiarise themselves with the online exam environment and its functions. Any queries with the system should be raised with the FPH office in good time before the exam.

Candidates will also be contacted in regards to accessing the online platform so that they may familiarise themselves with the navigation of the platform.

As is the case for in-person exams, it is vital to be ready to sit the exam at the designated time otherwise your attempt will be invalid. In the event that you are late logging in to the exam attempt, candidates will be permitted to join up to a maximum of 30 minutes after the allocated time. It is important to note, however, that candidates will lose this time from their exam. If a candidate logs in to the exam after this initial 30 minutes has passed, they will not be permitted to sit the exam and refunds will not be provided.

No. It will not be possible to print questions as the questions are taken from a closed question bank and we must ensure the security of these.

Candidates will be able to make notes in the tool provided by the online platform and will also be able to highlight and annotate the questions and critical appraisal article.

It is not possible to make notes on scrap paper as this jeopardises the integrity of the question bank.

If candidates wish to do so, they are permitted to use one hand-held A4 size whiteboard and whiteboard pen (erasable) to make handwritten notes.

Candidates must show that the whiteboard has been erased at the end of the exam.

Please note that the whiteboard will not be provided by FPH so candidates will need to purchase an A4 whiteboard if they wish to use one.

Taking notes on paper or failing to show that the whiteboard has been erased at the end of the exam may be considered misconduct.

The functionality offered by the online platform enables candidates to be able to view the resource at the same time as their question and answer paper. Each element can be resized on the screen as you wish.

  • Before the start of the exam, the invigilator will check that the correct person is sitting the exam by checking your photo ID.
  • Next, the invigilators will secure the test environment by asking you to use your webcam or mobile phone to pan the room. They will be checking that there is nothing in the room that is not permitted in the exam such as text books, study aids pinned to walls or your monitor.
  • When the exam begins, the system is locked to avoid internet searches during the test. In other words, you will remain within the test screen at all times for the duration of the exam. During this time, you will be watched by the invigilator in the same way an invigilator watches over an exam hall.
  • If needed, after the exam, the invigilator will notify FPH of any issues that arose during the exam, for example, candidate behaviour that breaks the rules of the exam. Again, the same process that happens in the exam hall.

You do not need any special equipment for a remotely invigilated exam, a standard desktop or laptop with a webcam, a microphone and good quality internet connectivity will suffice.

All of the key requirements are checked during the system check process and in the unlikely event of any issues, these will be brought to your attention and can be resolved well in advance of exam day. Technical support will also be available to assist during standard office hours if required.

• The following minimum system requirements are needed:
• Intel Core i3 (or equivalent) and 4GB RAM
• A working webcam
• A working microphone and speakers
• Good continuous internet speed of 516kbps or higher
• A screen size of at least 13″ and a resolution of 1024 x 768
• A MAC OS 10.8+ or Windows 7+ operating system only

Candidates who do not have a suitable set up could potentially borrow equipment or take the exam in a different location such as your workplace.

Please ensure that you have sufficient battery life or are connected to a power source if you are using a laptop. 

 

In response to feedback from candidates suggesting that the time allowed for Paper IIB is too short, the FPH Education Committee has approved the proposal made to increase the time allowed for Paper IIB from 1 hour and 30 minutes to two hours. This will increase the time per question from 18 minutes per question to 24 minutes per question.


This change will be in place for the next sitting in November 2020. There will not be any changes to the timing of Paper IA, IB or IIA.


FPH are currently in the process of migrating exams to an online format. As such, arrangements are still being finalised and exact start and finish times for the exam will be confirmed to all candidates as soon as possible.

 

Yes it is possible to sit the exam from outside the UK. Please note, however, that the timing of the exam will run in line with GMT. If you are based overseas (and you are not a Hong Kong College of Community Medicine Candidate) your examination will take place at the equivalent time. Please notify the Examinations Co-ordinator if you wish to take the exam from outside the UK.

For Paper IIB only, candidates are permitted to use their own simple non-scientific, non-programmable calculator. Invigilators will verify that the calculator matches this specification upon registration to the exam.


Examples of permitted calculators can be seen here:

Example 1

Example 2

For all other papers (1A, 1B and IIA), candidates should not bring their own calculator and should make use of the calculator that will be available as part of the online exam functions.

The online calculator can be seen in the TestReach tutorials. These tutorials can be accessed upon downloading the TestReach app. Instructions will be sent to candidates by email.

No. Using two screens will cause issues with both the view of the exam and communication with the invigilator. If you have two screens please disconnect one screen for the duration of the exam.

Candidates will be permitted to take one bathroom break of a maximum of 5 mins for each paper.

They should notify the invigilator who will record this for the invigilator report. The invigilator may ask to do another check to ensure that prohibited material have not been brought into the room.

Please note that the clock will not be stopped for bathroom breaks so candidates will lose this time from their exam.

TestReach has been designed so that remotely invigilated tests can be run at lower bandwidths with fluctuating internet speeds. On most occasions, internet issues are to do with fluctuations and it is very rare that the internet connection drops completely.

There is a continual connection “heart beat” monitored between the candidate’s computer and TestReach’s central servers to ensure that the connection remains in place. This also ensures that a situation can never arise where, for example, the connection drops but the candidate continues to enter answer data which is not being saved. There is built in “smoothing”, so that if the internet speed fluctuates this does not adversely impact the candidate.

If the connection speed becomes too slow, or drops completely then a “shutter” comes down on the candidate’s screen, alerting them to the fact. During this time the system will continually try to re-establish the connection for a period of up to 10 minutes and as soon as a connection is detected, the shutter will lift and the candidate can continue where they left off (usually fluctuations in internet speed only take a second or two to come back online).  Candidates will not lose the time they have lost.

If a connection is not re-established in 10 minutes the exam will terminate. At this point the candidate should contact TestReach by phone immediately to inform them of this. [Candidates are permitted to access their phone in these emergency circumstances and will be asked to place the phone away from their computer/laptop once the connection is restored].

If the candidate does not contact TestReach in five minutes after the exam has terminated they will not be let back in to complete the exam.

A connection drop of more than 10 minutes will be permitted only once during the exam. If the connection drops again for more than 10 minutes (resulting in termination of the exam for a second time) candidates will not be allowed back into the exam.

In this instance, candidates should ask their service provider for evidence of the connection failure (or known fault) to be considered for extenuating circumstances. A successful application for extenuating circumstances would mean that their attempt is discounted and they can sit the exam at the next available sitting without paying the full fee.

 

TestReach technical support numbers and emails will be provided in the candidate pack and displayed on the exam interface so candidates can contact TestReach directly for any issues that arise on the exam day.

Please note that in the event of a complete connection loss, you are permitted to use your phone to make contact with TestReach to resolve the issue.

You cannot accidentally shut down the exam once the TestReach secure computer lockdown feature is turned on so the only way to end the test is by actually submitting it.

You have the option to submit the exam at any point and there is a double confirm (i.e. “Are you sure you wish to end the test?”).

Like a pen and paper test, you can end the exam early if you wish. 

It is essential that you try out the system before you sit your examination. Once you have downloaded the TestReach application, you can access a ‘test tutorial’ so you can be familiar with how it feels to answer exam questions in TestReach. You can take this tutorial as many times as you like.

Details of how to access the TestReach application will be sent to candidates by email.

If you decide you no longer want to sit the exam in November, please let the Exams Co-ordinator know as soon as possible. Please note that once you have received confirmation of your place, if you later choose not to sit the exam in November and do not notify FPH by 31st September, FPH cannot guarantee another free resit place.

Candidates are allowed to bring a snack and water for the exam. Please note that food/water must be in clear packaging otherwise the invigilator will ask them to remove it from the room.

We hope that the FAQs above answer the majority of queries. If you do have other concerns and questions please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing educ@fph.org.uk

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