Essay-style Exam

COVID Update Victoria and Auckland

In light of the Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria and the Alert Level 3 COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland, our venue provider for the Essay-style Examinations are cancelling all scheduled bookings for these locations while the current level of restrictions apply.

We anticipate that the exams scheduled for 24 February will go ahead if restrictions are eased sufficiently. Further communications will be made with affected candidates as the situation changes. The possibility of alternate solutions is presently being considered by the college with the safety of all members remaining paramount.

18 February update on the Essay-style Examination [PDF; 179 KB]
18 February update: Safety of the RANZC Examination Environment [PDF; 172 KB]
16 February Communique – Essay-style Examinations COVID-19 update [PDF; 151 KB]
15 February Communique – Essay-style Examinations COVID-19 update [PDF; 152 KB]

Decoupling of the Essay-style exam

The Critical Essay Question (CEQ) and Modified Essay Questions (MEQ) components of the Essay-style exam will be assessed separately from August 2021.

Candidates will need to pass both components to progress through the Fellowship Pathway.

► March Communique – Decoupled Essay Examinations [PDF; 223 KB]​
► Decoupling the Essay-style examination - update from the Education Committee, December 2020


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


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.

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


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 February 2021 Essay-style Examination are now closed.

See the exam timetable for future exam dates.

Exam support resources

Listen to our latest podcast: 

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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