News & Media

17 November 2017

Changes to the Format and Structure of the Radiation Oncology Phase 1 Examinations and Assessments

Recently, changes were approved by the Radiation Oncology Education and Training Committee and supported by the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Council regarding the format and structure of the Phase 1 Examination as well as changes to the current submission and completion requirements for the Clinical Assignment assessment.

These changes come into effect from 1 January 2018 and are applicable to all current Phase 1 trainees and all new trainees commencing on the Radiation Oncology Training Program in December 2017 (New Zealand) and February 2018 (Australia).

Phase 1 Examination

Currently the Phase 1 Examination comprises of 4 subjects: Anatomy, Physics, Pathology and Radiation Cancer Biology. Commencing from the 2018 Phase 1 Examination series, Pathology will no longer be examined within the structure of the Phase 1 Examination.

With the removal of Pathology from the Phase 1 Examination, a restructure to the examination format and passing requirement has been undertaken. 

The Phase 1 Examination from 2018 will entail:

  • Questions will be subject based: Anatomy, Physics and Radiation & Cancer Biology;
  • There will be 2 papers each 2.5 hours to be sat on 1 day (remains as current);
  • Each paper will have 6 questions with each question worth 15 marks each (subparts of each question will have varying marks);
  • Each question will examine one subject only (which will be clearly indicated);
  • There will be 4 questions per subject with a total of 12 questions over the 2 papers;
  • Each subject will have a total of 60 marks (ie 4 questions with 15 marks per question);
  • Trainees will be required to achieve a pass in all 3 subjects to pass the Phase 1 Examination overall;
  • A pass for each subject will require trainees to receive a mark greater than 36 of out 60 (ie 60%);
  • Trainees will be required to make a meaningful attempt at all questions;
  • If a trainee passes 2 out of the 3 subjects and fails the third but receives a mark greater than 33 out of 60 (ie 55-59%) in the third subject they may be offered a supplementary oral viva in that subject;

In light of the removal of Pathology from the Phase 1 Examination, the Description and Rules of Determination of Results for the FRANZCR Phase 1 Exam in Radiation Oncology have been made to reflect these proposed changes and the amended passing standard required for the Phase 1 Examination. A copy of this document can downloaded from the College website at the following link: Description and Rules of Results for Phase 1 Exam 2018

It is important to emphasise that the change to the Phase 1 Examination is a structural change and does not alter the curriculum or examinable content. The examination duration or the number of papers required to be completed on the same day will remain unchanged.

Pathology Knowledge and Experience

At present the Pathology curriculum significantly overlaps with the Radiation and Cancer Biology (RCB) curriculum and most of the content within the Pathology curriculum will be covered in the RCB questions in the Phase 1 Examination. However, there are a few areas of Pathology that are not covered in the RCB curriculum and alternate assessment methodology is being considered for trainees to gain experience in Pathology in the future.

Phase 1 Examination Foundation and Preparation Course 2018

With Pathology no longer being examined as a subject in the Phase 1 Examination, the format of the current Phase 1 Examination Foundation and Preparation Course will be altered with Pathology lectures no longer part of the program.

In 2018 the RANZCR is pleased to report that the ESTRO RadBio Course will be delivered in Australia with an international ESTRO Faculty as well as two prominent Australian radiation oncologists joining the Faculty.

The ESTRO Radbio Course will run for 4 days and focus on lectures being delivered regarding Radiation and Cancer Biology. The Phase 1 Exam Preparation and Foundation Course will be held over 2 days with a focus on lectures and practical sessions being delivered regarding Anatomy, Physics and Molecular Biology.

The ESTRO Radbio Course will be held in Melbourne from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 May and the Phase 1 Exam Preparation and Foundation Course will be held in Sydney on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 June.

Clinical Assignments

Currently, trainees are required to complete 5 Clinical Assignments. The Clinical Assignments are currently an eligibility requirement to sit the Phase 1 Examination and their completion is a mandatory requirement before trainees can apply to sit the Phase 1 Examination.

The Clinical Assignments are acknowledged as an excellent educational resource for trainees. However, it is also acknowledged that for a number of reasons, the Clinical Assignments are not being utilized in the way they were originally intended, and the marking of the assignments places a significant burden on clinical supervisors and Directors of training.

Therefore, after careful consideration it has been decided that from 1 January 2018 the Clinical Assignments with be withdrawn as a mandatory assessment requirement and no longer be regarded as an eligibility requirement to sit the Phase 1 Examinations. This will be applicable to all current and new Phase 1 trainees.

The Clinical Assignments will remain available to trainees as resource to add value to their examination preparation. Trainees sourcing study materials are encouraged to utilise these excellent resources. The supervisor versions of the assignments (password protected) will still be available to those Directors of Training whose trainees still wanted to complete the assignments to help supplement their Phase 1 Examination preparation.

The Oncology Sciences Working Group is developing an assessment framework (to replace the Clinical Assignments) for the future. However, this program will not be implemented, in its entirety until 2019.


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