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 first sitting of 2022 will be held on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th March 2022

The application window is currently open for October 2021. The application window for the Spring 2022 exam sitting will open on 1st December.

To apply for the next sitting and for more information on the application process, please click here. On submitting your application form, you will be sent a link to make payment.

Alternatively you may pay by BACS transfer. Details of how to make payment can be found on the above page.

 

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.

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.

Please note that candidates should have access to their own simple, non-scientific, non-programmable calculator for Paper IIB. Please see the FAQ - 'Can I use my own calculator?' for further information.

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.

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 should have access to 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 active 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.

It is possible, however, to connect a larger screen to a laptop. It is important that only one screen display is active and the webcam still functions correctly. Your laptop lid should be closed and the webcam should function from the larger screen that you have attached so that invigilators have a direct rather than side on view of you throughout the exam.

Please ensure you have completed the ‘Check set-up test’ on the TestReach app to check that your individual set-up is working correctly and contact the Education and Training Team educ@fph.org.uk or the TestReach Support Team for any queries and specific advice about this.

Phone: +44 (0)20 34758685 or Email: support@testreach.com.

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.

 

If you have any problems please call the TestReach support number: +44 (0)20 34758685

If for any reason you are unable to reach TestReach by phone. Please email them on this email support@testreach.com to log your support call and copy in educ@fph.org.uk.

You will not lose any time from your exam if there is a delay in connecting to the invigilator.

If you experienced significant technical issues, once the exam is complete, please notify FPH so that this can be investigated with TestReach.

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.

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.

Yes. The examiner will mark what you've written regardless of the format as long as it is possible to follow your working and understand what has been done.

This will be updated and published on the website following the publication of the March 2021 results.

This isn’t recommended as the TestReach app will use up a lot of data. If you have unlimited data, it would be possible to use a hotspot but this would be seen as a fall back option in the event of internet failure rather than a recommendation.

The invigilator will ask you to use the front camera on your phone on ‘selfie’ mode. If you do not have a phone with a camera, they will ask you to use a mirror to show them your environment. Please ensure you have at least one of these methods available. Please note that delays in being able to adequately show the invigilator your environment will result in a delay in being given access to the exam. 

No. Once the invigilation check is complete, the invigilator will ask you to turn your phone off and place it out of reach. If the invigilator suspects a candidate is using their phone or hears a sound from an electronic device, they will record this in their report for FPH to review.

No. We do not expect you to clear bookshelves but books should be out of reach. Invigilators will be able to see if the candidate is leaning away to access any material/object during the exam.

Yes, please ensure your desk is clear of everything other than a computer, screen, keyboard, mouse, laptop stand, whiteboard and erasable pen, drink and snack (in a clear container) and spectacles. For Paper IIB only you are permitted to use a non-scientific, non-programmable calculator.

Please ensure you click the button to connect to an invigilator 15 minutes before your exam start time. Connection times can vary and it can take up to 15 minutes to connect to your invigilator, this is due to the process of completing the necessary registration and environment checks. If you have any problems connecting to an invigilator, please call the TestReach support number: +44 (0)20 34758685

If for any reason you are unable to reach TestReach by phone. Please email them on this email support@testreach.com to log your support call and copy in educ@fph.org.uk.

You will not lose any time from your exam if there is a delay in connecting to the invigilator.

You will receive a warning that there is 30 minutes remaining and five minutes remaining. This will display as a pop up that you can close down or choose to ignore and it will disappear.

Yes. For Paper IIA Question 1, as usual there is a word count limit of 600 words. You will be able to exceed this by a maximum of 10%. A word limit has been set in the question and if you exceed this limit the background of the answer pad will turn red. Please note that it is possible to exceed this limit to allow you to write more and then edit your answer. Examiners will, however, be able to see when the limit was exceeded and will not mark any further than 660 words.

No, unfortunately this only works in the answer pad. If you copy across a symbol from the arithmetic keyboard to the notebook it will appear in text from (for example sqrt instead of the Square root symbol)

Answers will automatically be submitted when your time is up. You can also choose to end the exam early if you wish to do so. Please tell the invigilator you would like to submit your exam and they will ask you to check your A4 whiteboard and then close the exam.

No. Please ensure you copy any text that you would like to be marked into the answer pad.

Yes, within the formatting toolbar in the notepad, there is a button with an expand symbol which will open the notebook to full size. Please click this button again to minimise it.

No, there isn’t an auto-correct or spell check enabled.

No, there is not a save button and your answers will be automatically be saved. 

No. You will need to be able to hear the invigilator at all times and the invigilator will also ask to check to ensure that candidates are not using an in-ear device.

No. Candidates are only permitted to use an A4 whiteboard on their desk. This should be cleared and shown to the invigilator before leaving the exam.

No. Only an A4 Whiteboard can be used. Invigilators will ask candidates to remove all other devices.

No, it is not possible to use earphones. Please ensure that you can complete the sound check without earphones. Please note that if you have headphones on when you enter the registration stage, the invigilator will have to ask you to exit the process and reconnect to complete the invigilator check stage again as your system checks need to be completed without headphones.

Yes, it is very important to only have one display visible. If you are using an external monitor, please ensure that you can attach a webcam.

Please ensure you have completed the ‘Check set-up test’ on the TestReach app to check that your individual set-up is working correctly and contact the TestReach Support Team for any queries and specific advice about this.

Phone: +44 (0)20 34758685 or Email: support@testreach.com.

One simple stopwatch timer is permitted. This can be either digital or analogue but it needs to be a simple timer and nothing else/no other functionality.

Candidates are permitted to have the following items on their desk:

  • Their valid ID document 

  • An A4 whiteboard with an erasable pen – this must be clear on beginning and ending the exam. The invigilator will ask to check the whiteboard at the beginning and end of the exam.

  • Water/snacks in clear packaging

  • A basic timer with no other functionality other than being a stop clock.

  • For Paper IIB only, candidates should bring a non-scientific, non-programmable calculator.

Yes. There is also a table button within the formatting toolbar in the answer pad. There is also a table icon button within the notepad that allows you to create a table. You can then copy this across to your answer. 

The word count limit is only for Paper IIA Question 1 - no other question has a word limit imposed.

Cutting and pasting does work in the main exam canvas and you can shift text around within the answer pad, similar to Microsoft Word.

Yes. Please ensure that you have completed the ‘Check set-up test’ (within the TestReach app) on the device you intend to use for the exam in case there are any issues.

No, there is not a summary function. Please refer to the text where you have posted your comments.

The invigilator view can be completely minimised by dragging the top edge of this section of the screen down. Please ask the invigilator to assist you (by speaking aloud or using the chat function) should you have any difficulty with this during the exam.

Any text that isn't part of a figure and that appears on the canvas (the article, your notes etc.) can be copied and pasted into the answer pad.

Yes. You can click back and forward through the individual questions. Please see the generical tutorials in the TestReach app for full instructions on how to navigate and flag questions that you would like to return to.

No but they should be kept in a clear container. Please note that the invigilator will ask you to hold each item up to the camera so they can check what is inside. 

The timer counts up from zero. You will receive a warning that there is 30 minutes remaining and five minutes remaining. This will display as a pop up that you can close down or choose to ignore and it will disappear.

The timer functionality and time remaining warnings can be seen in the FPH Diplomate Functionality Test.

The Paper 1 questions available on the website are a good representation of the current style of question setting and there are no immediate plans to release more.

Yes, shortcuts work in a similar way to Microsoft Word but please try these using the FPH Functionality Test as this can vary depending on your individual equipment.

Once you have been given access to the exam, the invigilator will be muted and will unmute themselves should they need to speak with you.

Yes, this is fine as long as it is one basic timer with no other functionality.

If you select a later start time in the morning, you should also be able to select a later start time in the afternoon. Please contact the Exams Co-ordinator if you have any issues when confirming your exam times.

If you have to evacuate the building before the exam has started, please contact the Exams Co-ordinator at FPH.

FPH will pass on a message to TestReach so that they will be aware that you are delayed in starting your exam.

If the fire alarm happens during the exam, please notify the invigilator. TestReach will then contact FPH to discuss the individual exceptional circumstances and depending on the amount of time lost, agree the arrangements for candidates to re-join the exam and for additional time to be given where possible.

 

This has been discussed in detail by the Diplomate Development Committee. The Committee considers that this is one exam and believes that a candidate should be ready to take both papers when they sit the exam for the first time. Indeed, in the past, banking was not permitted, so a fail in either paper, meant re-sitting both papers. Whilst the Committee is generally happy with continuing the banking process, committee members do not consider it appropriate to break the exam up in to its two constituent parts and allow either part to be taken separately at the first sit. It should also be noted that from an administration perspective such a change would add complexity and therefore cost which is unlikely to be welcomed by candidates.

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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