In line with the Royal College of Psychiatrists' commitment to improve its professional examinations based on the best current evidence, Spring 2003 has seen the introduction of the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). This has replaced the individual patient assessment (IPA) in the MRCPsych Part I clinical examination. An OSCE consists of a series of time-limited clinical tasks that candidates have to perform in a consecutive series of ‘stations' or booths. They have the advantage of being able to test clinical competence using a number of different scenarios via a standardised format (Katona et al, 2000). Their use has become widespread over recent years, particularly in undergraduate psychiatry exams (Brewin & Cantwell, 1997), as they have good reliability and validity (Hodges et al, 1998). This was confirmed by the College's initial pilot OSCE, which had a κ score of around 0.8 for the examination as a whole (Oyebode, 2002).
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