Resources‎ > ‎

Interpreting the MRCGP CSA Exam Results

csa cases mrcgp feedback csa courses

How to make sense of your MRCGP CSA Exam feedback card

By Nazmul Akunjee & Muhammed Akunjee


Below is an article written by MRCGP CSA Prep to try and help explain how to interpret the feedback given from the RCGP. In what can be somewhat confusing, the GP facilitator attempt to demystify this information. Alternatively you can download the article: 

A structured mark sheet for how each CSA case is assessed is found on the RCGP website. Other resources including advice how to interpret the feedback of the MRCGP CSA exam score cards as well as the grade descriptors the MRCGP CSA examiners use to assess you with across the three domains.

An example of an MRCGP CSA Exam Feedback sheet:

Summative feedback

Candidate: MRCGP CSA PREP    GMC number: 123456     
Assessment Date: 01.02.2014       Mark of 117: 72
Result: Fail                                   Mark needed to pass: 78

Formative feedback

MRCGP CSA exam feedback

Once you have completed your CSA exam the RCGP will send to you your final results electronically to your e-portfolio. It can often be quite confusing to interpret the results of your CSA exam score but in this article we hope to unravel some of the mystery behind it.

Summative section
Currently there are two separate sections to the feedback received from the Royal college. The upper part represents the ‘summative section’ with information given about the candidates own mark on the exam compared to the pass mark needed to pass on the day. This score is calibrated based upon the day’s performance, difficulty of the stations and standardised against your peers’ performance on other days.

Your overall score is determined by 13 MRCGP CSA examiners who have scored with a grade across 3 domains – Data gatheringclinical management and interpersonal skills.

The grades on the MRCGP CSA exam include:

CP       Clear Pass     Score 3             Displays above-average level of competence with fluency, 
                                                          proficient and focused

P          Pass               Score 2             Demonstrates adequate level of competence

F          Fail                Score 1             Fails to show adequate competence, unsystematic, inconsistent

CF        Clear Fail      Score 0             Fails to demonstrate competence with poor clinical management, 
                                                          unacceptable for practice.

Each domain had 3 points and a total of 9 points can be achieved per station in a perfectly performed station. A maximum of 117 points can be achieved from 13 consecutive CSA stations. A pass or fail is achieved if your personal score is found to be above the pass mark to pass on the day.

This means that it is often quite difficult to compare candidates MRCGP CSA score across different days as the mark needed to pass may fluctuate as described earlier.

Formative section
The second half of your MRCGP CSA feedback is the formative section with is presented with a general description of the station encountered and a grid like score across 16 areas of performance. To confuse things, not all 16 areas are assessed in each station so a blank box without a cross may suggest either you have successfully performed in that area on a particularly station or that it had not assessed you on that domain resulting in a blank.

A cross in a particular box suggests that an examiner had felt your performance was not satisfactory for that area in that particular station. However, importantly, crosses are only highlighted if two or more MRCGP CSA examiners have identified the same area that requires improvement.

Whilst it may be fair to assume an absence of a cross means you have performed well on that case, unfortunately an equally possible explanation can be sought. A candidate despite having no crosses along the 16 performance areas in a particular station can in fact have scored poorly on the case. This is possible if no other examiner had reported a similar concern within the same performance area on your exam day.

The feedback offered on the formative section via the grid does not indicate your personal mark rather the total overall score obtained out of 9 by the examiner. This score is not reflected here but can be obtained, via the Data Protection Act.