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Revision Resources for the FRCOphth Part 1 Exam

FRCOphth Part 1 Revision: Introduction

The FRCOphth Part 1 examination marks the initial step in the trilogy of fellowship exams. This examination is notorious for its low pass rates, 40.2% as of April 2023, reflecting its rigorous nature. Comprising two papers with 90 multiple-choice questions each, the exam spans four hours, including a break. The COVID-19 pandemic has transitioned this exam to an online format, offering flexibility with sessions available in January, April, and October. Candidates are afforded a maximum of six attempts.

Completion of this exam is a requisite by the end of the second year of ophthalmic specialist training (OST2). It is also important for portfolio enhancement in OST applications, prompting many to undertake it pre-emptively. The absence of an ophthalmology rotation during foundation training can add to the challenge of passing this exam. This guide delves into the exam structure and useful resources to facilitate exam success.

Exam Focus Areas

The FRCOphth Part 1 primarily assesses basic sciences relevant to ophthalmology, including:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Pathology, with an emphasis on Microbiology and Immunology
  • Growth and Senescence, covering Embryology and Ageing Processes
  • Optics and instruments
  • Pharmacology
  • Epidemiology and Statistics
  • Genetics
  • Investigations

Essential Study Materials for FRCOphth Part 1 Revision

Given the limited high-quality resources for FRCOphth preparation, identifying effective study materials is crucial. Below are key textbooks and additional resources that are useful:


Clinical Anatomy of the Eye by Snell and Lemp (1998): A critical resource for mastering anatomy and embryology, complemented by diagrams and insights into pathological development.

Clinical Optics by Elkington, Frank, and Greaney (1999): Renowned for its comprehensive coverage of optics, this text is a staple, though supplemental resources may be needed for current investigations and laser technologies.

Basic Sciences in Ophthalmology by Ferris (1998): Offers an interactive learning approach through true/false questions and concise explanations, facilitating key point retention.

Basic Sciences for Ophthalmology by Bye, Modi, and Stanford (2013): Provides a broad overview suitable for initial study, with some overlap with Ferris for a comprehensive coverage.

The Eye: Basic Sciences in Practice by Forrester, Dick, McMenamin, Roberts, and Pearlman (5e 2020): Delves into recent research developments with detailed explanations and supportive multimedia resources.

FRCOphth Part 1: 400 SBAs and CRQs by Hall and Peden (2016): Includes mock papers reflecting previous exam formats, offering extensive practice across varied topics.

Question Banks:

EyeQ: Charges apply for access, featuring over 2000 questions with explanations, beneficial for timed practice and performance comparison.

eFRCOphth: A free resource mirroring the structure of medical school question banks, includes around 1500 questions, beneficial for anatomy with diagrammatic representations.


MRCOphth: Contains valuable information, especially on pathology and investigations, with historical exam questions for practice.

EyeDocs: Beyond the question bank, this platform provides forums for candidate discussions and articles on investigative techniques and ophthalmic conditions.

EyeWiki: An ophthalmic encyclopaedia offering detailed insights into various conditions, their epidemiology, diagnosis, and management.

YouTube: Visual learning platforms such as YouTube offer valuable resources for understanding complex topics like embryology and optics through channels like NinjaNerd and Tim Root.

Preparatory Advice

Effective preparation demands an early start, typically 4-6 months in advance, with intensified revision closer to the exam date. Utilizing forums like EyeDocs for past questions, practicing optic ray diagrams, and reviewing basic statistics can enhance your readiness. Tailoring the combination of resources to fit your learning style, especially in an online setting, is crucial for success.

Preparing for the FRCOphth Part 1 is not only a step towards advancing in ophthalmology training but also a valuable learning opportunity to be embraced fully, regardless of the immediate outcome.

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