AKT and RCA dates confirmed

The exams team recognises the challenges for trainees and the uncertainty that the pandemic is having on the profession. We will be writing to you regularly over the coming months to update you on everything happening within the MRCGP examinations, and our progress as we begin to look at what might eventually replace the CSA/RCA. We will liaise closely with your AiT Co-Chairs, Adam and Sophie, to ensure that we communicate the updates that will be most useful to you.

Exam dates (AKT and RCA)

I am pleased to announce that we have been able to finalise our exam dates for the next year, ahead of the original anticipated date of 8 April.


The dates for AKT 2021-22 are as below:

SeriesDateBooking periodResults released (all 17:00 hours)
October 2021Wednesday
27 October 2021
1/2/3 of September 202118 November 2021
January 2022Wednesday
26 January 2022
1/2/3 of December 202117 February 2022
April 2022Wednesday
27 April 2022
2/3/4 of March 202219 May 2022

The booking window for the April AKT has now closed, and the exam will take place as published on 28 April 2021. At present, there is still no viable option to offer the AKT remotely outside of a Pearson VUE test centre. However, we will be contacting all ST2 and ST3 trainees who have been identified by their deaneries as shielding to discuss potential options.


The dates for RCA for the rest of 2021 are below:

DietBooking periodSubmission deadlineAssessment period*Results released* (all 17:00 hours)
September 202117 August 2021 to 31 August 202130 September 2021
13:00 hours
2 October 2021 to 16 October 2021
28 October 2021
November 202112 October 2021 to 25 October 202122 November 2021
13:00 hours
24 November 2021 to 9 December 2021
16 December 2021

(*) subject to capacity.

Due to the uncertainty around the future exams, we are only in a position to confirm the exact dates for 2021 at this time. However, it will be expected that RCA exams will be available in Feb/March and May 2022.

We have also agreed with key stakeholders that there will be a small, restricted diet in July for those trainees who delayed sitting the RCA until March due to COVID pressures, are unsuccessful in March, and who would otherwise not have the chance to re-sit prior to their CCT date. Bookings will be restricted to named trainees, identified by their Deaneries.

These dates are as below:

DietBooking periodSubmission deadlineAssessment period*Results period*
July 2021 (restricted diet)21 May 2021 to 26 May 20215 July 2021
13:00 hours
7 July 2021 to 14 July 202122 July 2021
17:00 hours

Deaneries will provide the RCGP with priority lists following the release of March results on 15 April. Please do not contact RCGP exams team as we will not be able to advise you on this matter. Any queries need to be raised with your deanery team via your TPDs.

Predicting the take-up of trainees on when they will sit exams is never simple, and uncertainties have been compounded by COVID-19. Trainees obviously want to see exam dates published as far ahead as possible, but this can cause issues when exams become oversubscribed, as was the case for the March RCA. In the final weekend of the booking window there was a very significant spike in bookings which meant that there was neither the examiner availability, nor days left in the diet to be able to accommodate all trainees.

RCGP immediately met with the training community to agree a solution which would avoid having to turn some trainees away. The way we were able to do this was to extend the diet for another week, which inevitably delayed the results. This was unanimously agreed upon. We understand that the impact of delaying the results may mean less time to apply and record for a May exam and so we have agreed with stakeholders for a one-off July diet this year for those who are unsuccessful in March.

Future new examination

RCGP Council has approved the beginning of a development process for a new examination to replace both the RCA and the CSA. It is very early stages, although the development groups have already met and are engaging with stakeholders. Approval for the next stage of development will be finalised at the RCGP Trustee Board in June. We have heard from trainees, trainers and examiners that the development of the new exam must provide a completely fit-for-purpose clinical skills exit examination for the profession, and this will require a carefully quality assured and piloted process is conducted. It is important to make trainees aware that the usual process for developing such a high stakes examination would take at least 12-18 months, and therefore at this stage we are unable to confirm any set dates until at least Trustee Board in June.

The RCA will therefore remain in place in its current format until there is a new exam to take its place. The College is committed to giving trainees a minimum of six months’ notice of any exam changes.


We recently heard from trainees asking for clarity around the detailed guidance on WPBA on the RCGP website. This has now been updated on the website so do please take a look at the WPBA pages.

I hope you are able to take some time to enjoy the Easter break. As ever, if you have any queries, please contact your deanery if it is about the July diet, or exams@rcgp.org.uk for anything else.

About the writer

Michael Mulholland is a GP at Unity Health, a five-site practice for 22000 patients across the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire border where he has practised for nearly 20 years. 

He also works for Health Education England with roles in GP training, Quality Improvement and workforce planning. Within the RCGP he has been part of the GP at Scale programme and a GP Forward View Regional Ambassador.

He was elected to the post of Vice Chair (Professional Development) in November 2018.