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Exam days

  • What is the format of the examination?

    There are two components of the examination:

    1. A written component consists of computer-based short-answer management problems (SAMPs)
    2. An oral component consists of five, 15-minute simulated office oral (SOO) interviews and takes place on Saturday or Sunday
  • How long is the examination?

    Candidates will be involved in testing over two days. The written examination is four (4) hours in length and takes place on Friday of the exam weekend. The oral consists of five, 15-minute simulated office oral (SOO) interviews and takes place on Saturday or Sunday.

  • Will I be sequestered during the examination? If so, for how long?

    There will be no general sequestering during short-answer management problems (SAMPs) or simulated office orals (SOOs), however in some special situations individuals may be sequestered over the lunch hour.

  • What do I do with my personal belongings at the examination site?

    Please DO NOT bring personal belongings to the examination site. The College of Family Physicians of Canada is not responsible for any lost, stolen, or broken personal property.

  • What should I bring to the examination?

    You should only bring your entrance letter and personal identification (e.g., driver’s licence or passport). No personal items will be permitted in the examination room. You will be directed to place all your personal belongings such as keys, papers, wallets, cell phones, watches, coats, etc., in a designated area during the examination. While every effort will be made to store them safely, the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) is not responsible for your belongings. Please bring as few of them as possible.

    Please note, you are not permitted to wear watches or electronic bracelets of any kind (i.e., digital, analogue or smartwatches) on exam day. Clocks will be provided in every simulated office oral (SOO) examination room.

    Food should not be consumed during the examination. However, for candidates with special dietary requirements, arrangements should be made with the College 12 weeks prior to the examination. If approved by the College, the food must be in a clear plastic bag.

  • Are the simulated office oral (SOO) examinations recorded?

    Some SOOs may be recorded for research or quality assurance purposes only. Video equipment/viewing mirrors are used for validating examiners’ performances and not the candidates’ performances.

  • Must I remain in the examining room for the full 15 minutes, even if I believe I have completed the interview?

    It is your choice whether to leave the examination room once you feel you have completed your interview. You are not required to stay for the entire 15 minutes. You may consider staying in case you think of something of value.

  • Do I have to wait for the three-minute warning before I formulate my management plans?

    No, you may begin discussing management options at any time you feel appropriate. During the final three minutes, you are expected to conclude your discussion with the patient/examiner.

  • Can I get information about my performance on the oral exams from the examiner?

    No, examiners are not permitted to provide any information to you.

  • What should I do if I have a concern about my experience during the examination?

    If, during the course of the examination, you experience an irregularity in the process or an incident occurs that you believe may negatively impact your performance, you should bring this immediately to the attention of the responsible local authority. This will allow immediate action to be taken to resolve the situation if possible and the incident to be appropriately documented for future consideration by the Board of Examinations and Certification.

  • What is the dress code on examination days?

    Business casual is acceptable.

  • Do I need to wear a white lab coat?

    No, a lab coat is not required.




Scoring the exam

  • Does the day on which I take each component of the exam impact my results?

    After each examination, statistical analyses are conducted to determine whether candidates taking the examination on a particular day may be disadvantaged and these analyses are reviewed by the Board of Examinations and Certification prior to approving examination results. Consistently from year-to-year, our analyses have demonstrated that there is no significant impact of this “day effect” on either the short-answer management problems (SAMPs) or the simulated office orals (SOOs).

  • Is there a minimum number of short-answer management problems (SAMPs) and simulated office orals (SOOs) that I need to pass to get a successful result on the exam? If yes, what is the passing score for each?

    Candidates are scored on their overall performance on the SOOs and their overall performance on SAMPs. There is no set minimum number of stations to pass or minimum passing mark for each SOO or for the SAMPs.

  • Is each question marked on the bell curve?

    No. Each question is corrected by assigning marks according to a fixed answer key for that question and case.

  • How is the exam scored and what comprises a "passing" score?

    Each candidate obtains a single total aggregate score on the short-answer management problem (SAMP) component and a single total aggregate score on the simulated office oral (SOO) component. To pass a section, the candidate’s total aggregate score must be higher than the minimum passing score for that component. The minimum passing score applies to all candidates, and is calculated relative to the performance of a group of reference candidates. This reference group is made up of graduates of Canadian family medicine residency programs who are sitting the examination for the first time. Candidates must obtain a passing score on both the SAMP and SOO components to receive certification in the College of Family Physicians (CFPC). The minimum passing score for each of the two components are different for each sitting of the exam, and in each case, is approved by the Board of Examinations and Certification.

  • Is it better to answer parts of a question that we know, or should we go to the questions that we can answer in full first?

    It is better to answer all the questions as best you can. If you leave a question blank, you cannot get any marks for that question. If you write something down, you might get some parts right, and score some points.

  • What is the best way to score good marks on SAMPs?

    The best advice is to read the questions very carefully. Make sure you understand what is being asked. Because these are short-answer questions, they are constructed to be targeted and to lead to specific answers rather than to general answers on the topic. If you read the scenarios carefully, and the questions, they should lead you to the right answers. You should read each question twice before choosing your answer, and make sure you give the answer that fits best with the case and the question. Follow the instructions in each question very carefully and give the number of answers requested.

  • How do I know which guidelines to study? Will I be penalized for staying current (i.e., studying the latest guidelines that were published after the examination content was set)?

    The answer keys to each exam instrument are determined by the Committee on Examinations – Family Medicine and other peers shortly before each examination, and they are based on the best current clinical experience and evidence available at that time. Marks on each question at the time of correction are determined by how well the candidate’s answers match the established answer keys. In the unlikely event that the “best” answers lose currency between the time of setting and the time of the examination, appropriate adjustments are made automatically in the marking stage.

    Therefore, candidates should always answer according to what represents the most accepted good practice in of family medicine at the time of the examination. They will never be penalized for staying current.


Language quality assurance

  • How does the CFPC ensure the quality of the translation of examination content?

    After a rigorous process of question development, the content is translated by an experienced certified medical translator (Step 1).

    The translated content then goes through a subsequent independent review by a native French-speaking bilingual physician who: has been involved in the development of the cases, is familiar with the context of the questions,  and employs the French medical terminology that Canadian French-speaking physicians use in their everyday practice (Step 2).

    Once the French-speaking physicians are satisfied with the translation, the content is then reviewed by the CFPC translation team in order to correct any typographical or grammatical errors (Step 3).

    The translated content is then reviewed once more (Step 4) after it has been transferred into the software that delivers the examination.  This step is done to ensure accurate presentation on the day of the examination.
  • What is the process of post-exam quality assurance of the translated content?

    Candidates’ written comments produced during and after the examination are analyzed to detect potential issues with questions.

    All French answers are scored by French-speaking physicians who are also able to identify potential quality issues with questions.

    As with the English questions during the marking process, any French questions, for which quality issues are raised, are reviewed individually and decisions are made as to whether those questions will be excluded from the examination. If a question is excluded because of performance concerns in one language, it is automatically excluded from the examination in the other language.

    Psychometric analyses ensure that the questions included in examination meet the expected performance standards. Specific attention is paid to any question where there is an inconsistency between English and French-speaking candidates’ performance metrics or scoring patterns.

    If an identified error or flaw in a question in either language is determined to have a potential effect on candidate performance, that question is removed from the examination content and the above-mentioned psychometrical analyses are re-done.
  • What is the process of quality improvement?

    The Committee on Examination – Family Medicine reviews feedback from four main sources to identify areas for improvement:
    • Examination results and results of post-examination analyses
    • The report and recommendations from the examination coordinators post-administration of both components of the examination detailing any incidents or problems that occurred
    • Written feedback from candidates
    • Written feedback from examiners
    All candidate comments regarding translation are shared with the CFPC translation team.  The College of Family Physicians of Canada participates on a joint committee with representation from RCPSC, MCC, CMQ, FMRQ, and university representations from Laval, Montreal, Calgary to try to develop standardized medical terminology lexicons.


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