Essay-style Exam

This page is for candidates wanting to find out about, apply for, prepare for and take the Essay-style Exam.

For detailed requirements, please refer to Written examinations under Examinations of the 2012 Fellowship Program regulations, policies and procedures.

See also:
Results, timetables and fee information
Previous Essay-style Exams

For enquiries, contact


The Essay-style exam is a paper-based test undertaken at a testing centre.

It is a summative assessment and a Fellowship requirement of the RANZCP Fellowship Program.

It is set at the standard expected at the end of Stage 3 and assesses the application of knowledge and the capacity for critical thinking.

The Essay-style Exam is 180 minutes in duration, excluding reading time, and comprises:

  • 1 Critical Essay Question (CEQ) worth 40 marks
  • 4–6 Modified Essay Questions (MEQs) worth up to 30 marks each (total of 126 marked up to 140 marks)

The Essay-style exam is offered twice a year.

Candidates must pass the CEQ component to pass the exam.


The RANZCP recommends that trainees take the Essay-style Exam in Stage 3 of training.

Trainees may apply for the Essay-style Exam after they have completed 18 months FTE training as shown on their Training Record. They should have successfully completed the Essay-style Exam by 60 months FTE training.

How to apply

Applications for March 2021 Essay-style Examination will open in late November 2020.

See the exam timetable for future exam dates.

Exam support resources

Guide to the Critical Essay Question e-module is available on Learnit [member log-in required]. The module includes:

  • Present the concept of the CEQ
  • Explain the scoring system
  • Offer samples of the CEQ to comment on
  • Compare with examiner’s comments
  • Supply tools & methods to formulate your approach to the CEQ
  • Review previous CEQ examples
  • Offer resources to assist you in your CEQ response

Trainees are recommended to work through all the material to better understand how to approach and answer the Critical Essay Question. Duration: 60 min.

Preparation and advice for the written examinations is available under 4.6 of the Written Examinations Policy and Procedure [PDF; 127 KB].

The Committee For Examinations has published the following CEQ resources.

CEQ marking guide

For each exam, the CEQ scoring will be tailored to the specific question. Each marking domain will be weighted according to its relevance to the question. Not all domains will be relevant for each essay. The weightings attached to each domain may vary from exam to exam, as will the key requirements and descriptors.

Examiners expect broad and deep knowledge around clinical psychiatry, governance and the practice of psychiatry in the cultural and political context. 

MEQ marking guide

The documents below are used by examiners to mark the MEQs. They are not used as checklists for candidate responses, but as a useful guide for examiners to follow. There may be times when other correct answers may emerge during the marking process.


Note that there is no syllabus for Stage 3. During Stage 3, trainees are expected to build on the knowledge base developed in Stages 1 and 2.

Past Essay-style Examination Questions (CEQ and MEQ)

For exam day

Proof of identity

On the day of the exam, you must provide valid identification documents [PDF; 112 KB] before you will be allowed to sit the exam.

Incident reports

If an incident occurred during your exam that could have affected your performance or the outcome of the exam, please complete an Incident Report form within 5 working days of taking the exam. A response to your incident report will be included in your result letter.


Results are released on the dates specified in the exam timetable. When released, results are available from the Results, timetables, fees page.

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