MRCGP Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA)

What is the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA)

The aim of the CSA is to test a doctor’s ability to gather information and apply learned understanding of disease processes and person-centred care appropriately in a standardised context, make evidence-based decisions, and communicate effectively with patients and colleagues. Being able to integrate these skills effectively is a key element of this assessment

Format of the CSA

The CSA is a high-fidelity skills assessment based largely on the familiar and well-proven OSCE format providing an external, objective assessment of clinical skills at a standardised, pre-determined level of challenge. The validity of the CSA resides in its realistic simulation of real-life consultations. Patients are played by trained and calibrated role players, and cases that are written and assessed by working GPs. The format of the assessment also allows for systematic sampling from the curriculum, using a selection blueprint.

Each candidate is allocated a consulting room and has 13 ten minute consultations.

CSA consultations

The CSA focuses on testing the following areas of the GP curriculum:

  • primary care management: recognition and management of common or important medical conditions in primary care
  • problem solving skills: gathering and using data for clinical judgement, choice of examination, investigations and their interpretation and demonstration of a structured and flexible approach to decision making
  • comprehensive approach: demonstration of proficiency in the management of co-morbidity and risk
  • person-centred care: communication with patients and the use of recognised consultation techniques to promote a shared approach to managing problems
  • attitudinal aspects: practising ethically with respect for equality and diversity, with accepted professional codes of conduct
  • clinical practical skills: demonstrating proficiency in performing physical examinations and using diagnostic and therapeutic instruments

Use of children in the CSA:

A paediatric case has routinely been included in the daily case mix (palette) of the CSA since its inception. This has hitherto only been achieved through a third party, usually a parent presenting with concerns about their child.

Cases involving child role players, accompanied by their parents, have been included in the palette selection process since November 2013. Although there will be a paediatric case each day, this will not necessarily involve the use of a child role-player on every occasion.

Some new cases will test paediatric examination. There will be no need for candidates to prepare in a different way as the learning outcomes are unchanged.

Additionally, please note that the British National Formulary (BNF) for Children has now been added to the list of equipment that candidates are required to bring into the CSA examination.

Clinical Skills Assessment walkthrough video

Clinical Skills Assessment walkthrough

Dr Kamila Hawthorne and Dr Richard Jones walk trainees through what to expect as they prepare to take their CSA exam


Delivery of the CSA / Use of iPads

The CSA is delivered in a paper-light format. Candidates have electronic patient lists and case notes and examiners record their marks electronically. Please consult the following document before you attend your examination.

CSA booking procedure

There are a finite number of places available for each examination session so regrettably we cannot guarantee that all applications will be accepted. Furthermore it is possible that we may not hold examinations on each of the dates published, as the scheduling will depend entirely on the number of candidates who have applied.

Regrettably we cannot allow you to choose a specific date for your examination. We will assume that you’re available to attend on each of the dates published within the session that you wish to apply for, but if you foresee insurmountable problems in attending on any particular days, or at a specific time, you should state these when completing your application and we will try to accommodate your request. We cannot however guarantee that this will be possible in every instance.

After you apply

You will receive an email acknowledging that your application has been successful. This email will also provide information about when you are likely to be advised about the date and time of your examination. In most instances this will be approximately 7 to 10 working days after applications have closed.

Fees must be paid when you apply.

Dates for applications for CSA examinations and publication of results

CSA assessment dates 2016-2017

The results of the April 2016 CSA examinations will be issued on Thursday 5 May 2016 via ePortfolio. 

All dates may be subject to change. Appropriate notice of any changes will be given at the earliest opportunity.

May 2016    October 2016 November 2016  December 2016 January/February 2017 March 2017  April 2017  May 2017 
Apply via website  1 - 7 April 2016  22 - 25 August 2016   19 - 22 September 2016  10 - 14 October 2016  9 - 15 December 2016  23 - 27 January 2017  27 February - 7 March 2017  4 - 7 April 2017
CSA exam dates  16 - 28 May 2016   4 & 5 October 2016   4 - 8 November 2016   5 - 10 December 2016

30 January - 25 February 2017 (excluding 12 - 19 February 2017)

 11 - 27 March 2017  19 - 25 April 2017  18 - 27 May 2017
Results published   7 June 2016  13 October 2016  15 November 2016  15 December 2016  7 March 2017  4 April 2017   4 May 2017   2 June 2017


A limited number of spaces will be reserved in the May 2017 Session for those who are unsuccessful in the April 2017 examination.

Cancelled CSA assessment dates January/February 2016 to May 2016

January/February 2016

 April 2016  May 2016
25 - 28 January & 13 February 18 & 25 - 27 April 16 - 18 & 28 May

Apply for the CSA

Apply online during one of the booking periods shown in the table above.

Please note that as there are a limited number of spaces available for this session and applications will be accepted on a first come-first served basis. Therefore you should make your booking at your earliest opportunity.

Declaring a disability or requesting special adjustments

Please refer to the relevant sections of the Examination Regulations in the first instance and complete the relevant section below. Appropriate arrangements will be made for those requiring reasonable adjustments. You should complete a Reasonable Adjustment Request Form if you are seeking a reasonable adjustment in the AKT. Please email the completed form to

Notify the RCGP of a disability 

Frequently Asked Questions about reasonable adjustments

Preparing for the CSA

CSA candidate information document

All candidates should read the full candidate information pack before sitting the CSA.

Candidate Briefing

Before the start of your examination you will receive a briefing from the Senior Marshal. Below is the presentation that will be presented on the day.

More resources for CSA candidates

It’s also helpful to review sample cases, guidance on how the CSA is marked and other resources.

Non disclosure agreement

CSA examination material is confidential and copyright to RCGP. By applying to take the CSA, you agree not to pass on information about any of the cases you will encounter. You’ll also be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement when you arrive at the centre. It is advisable that all candidates read the non-disclosure agreement carefully prior to their examination. Please click here to view the document.

In any case, knowledge of leaked material is unlikely to help you. The following document describes why this is so as well as giving advice on how to prepare for the examination.

Arrival and departure times

The CSA normally lasts approximately 3 hours. A morning exam is scheduled to start at 10am and an afternoon session at 2pm. The RCGP aims to follow these times as closely as possible, however delays, whilst regrettable, are sometimes unavoidable and you should take this into account, particularly when making travel arrangements for return journeys.

Travel to the venue may be slow especially in the morning rush hour and taxi or bus services can be very busy. It is your responsibility to ensure that you arrive in time for the candidate briefing.

Morning Session:-

Entrance to the exam centre will not be permitted before 8.30am. You should not arrive later than 9.00am in order to allow time for checking in.

Afternoon Session:-

Entrance to the exam centre will not be permitted before 11.45am. You should not arrive later than 12:30pm in order to allow time for checking in. For the security of the examinations, you will not be admitted to the session if you arrive later than 12:45pm, when the morning session ends.

Please refer to your confirmation letter or e-mail to be sure which of these sessions you have been allocated to attend.

N.B. Once you have checked in, you will not be permitted to leave the candidate reception and briefing area and mobile phone use is strictly no longer permitted.

Missing the briefing before your exam may leave you at a disadvantage, so we strongly recommend that you allow enough time to arrive by the times stated above. Candidates who arrive after the start of the briefing will only be admitted to the examination under exceptional circumstances.

The CSA will commence when everyone present has been shown to their consulting room and settled in, but not before the stated start times. In the event of an emergency on the day and if you think you may be late, please contact a member of the RCGP Examinations Department by phoning 0203 188 7660.

Equipment required on the day


You should bring your doctor’s bag containing the usual diagnostic equipment with you, including:

  • BNF
  • BNF for children
  • Stethoscope
  • Ophthalmoscope
  • Auroscope
  • Thermometer
  • Patella hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Peak flow meter and disposable mouthpieces (N.B. These must be EU standard)

    Please note that there is no need to bring a sphygmomanometer

    CSA Information for Candidates [PDF]

Dress Code

You'll be expected to adhere to a dress code when you attend your CSA Examination.

The Dress Code is available as guidance to postgraduate doctors undertaking licensing assessments as part of the MRCGP examination. It has been written in conjunction with Deanery guidance, and applies also to situations of recruitment to GP training, work based training itself and assessment. Please ensure you are familiar with this before sitting the exam. 

CSA marking

Each case is marked by a different examiner. The examiner marks each case on three domains or areas - data gathering, clinical management and interpersonal skills. This creates an overall numerical mark for the case. Each domain carries the same number of marks. The marks for each case are added to create a final mark. Each of the 13 cases contributes equally to the overall score.

The pass mark is created using the borderline group method, which establishes the pass mark for each different daily mix of cases.

Video Recording

Video recording

Consultations may be recorded as part of quality control and for training purposes (for both examiners and role players). They will not used to assess your performance.

Frequently Asked Questions about the role of video in MRCGP Clinical Skills Assessment

CSA Results and feedback

The result of your examination along with any formative feedback will be published in your ePortfolio on the date given in the table above.

Contact us

Tel: 0203 188 7660


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