Basic Pathological Sciences (BPS) Examination

The BPS examination and its preparation is a worthy endeavour for students and professionals in the fields of medicine, science and dentistry. Candidates undertaking this examination will find an improved understanding and appreciation for the practice of pathology and the pathological causes of disease. Pathology touches all medical specialties, and solid knowledge in this area produces a well-rounded health practitioner, no matter your chosen career. Medicine is Pathology. 

What is the Basic Pathological Sciences (BPS) examination?

The Basic Pathological Sciences (BPS) examination is a 2.5-hour online invigilated exam consisting of multiple-choice questions. The syllabus is primarily based on the first 11 chapters of Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, by Vinay Kumar, Abul K. Abbas, Jon C. Aster, 10th edition. Additionally, the syllabus contains up-to-date references which supplement the material in the text and are examinable.

Note: from 2025-2027 the BPS will be transitioning to a four option multiple choice exam item - see the Notice of Change for futher details.

Why is the Basic Pathological Sciences (BPS) examination important for RCPA Trainees?

The exam ensures that those undertaking the RCPA training program can demonstrate at an early stage of training that they have an adequate foundational knowledge to equip them for specific training in their chosen discipline.

The examination is not an entry requirement for the RCPA training program, nor a prerequisite for sitting the Part I examination. However, a pass in (or exemption from) this examination must be achieved before proceeding to the RCPA’s discipline specific Part II examinations. The RCPA recommends candidates take the BPS examination as early as possible in training. Reasonable core knowledge in pathology is essential for a successful start in the training program and satisfactory progress.

Why sit the BPS examination as a student or professional in medicine, science or dentistry?

As well as being offered to registered RCPA Trainees, the BPS examination is open to prevocational doctors, medical and science major students. The exam is also available to dentists and dental students wishing to improve and solidify their pathology knowledge. 

Taking the BPS examination will:

  • demonstrate prospective Trainee has committed to a career in pathology.
  • allows BPS exam takers to revise, reinforce, and build upon core pathology knowledge no matter their chosen specialty.
  • be a noteworthy and valuable addition to any CV, indicating an interest and achievement in pathological sciences.

BPS examination awards.
Those taking the BPS may be eligible for one of the following:

  • the Eddie Hurst Memorial Prize: highest performing Australian trainee.
  • the Neil Prentice Memorial Prize: highest performing NZ trainee.
  • the Highest performing non-trainee.
  • an RCPA certificate for candidates who pass.

Examination details

The RCPA holds the BPS examination annually, usually in mid to late April each year. The BPS examination will be delivered as an online invigilated exam in 2024 via risr/assess. Candidates sit the exam at home or other venue of choice, provided the selected venue satisfies the minimum technical and venue requirements for these online examinations.

Details regarding the online exam will be provided to candidates in due course. Further details pertaining to the RCPAs Online Training Portal can be found here.

Please see here For more information and to apply


BPS Registration and Information

Information on the BPS Exam including application forms and list of candidates' venues and times.

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BPS Resources

A collection of BPS Resources to support studying for the BPS exam.

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BPS Online Mock Exam

Information on BPS Online Mock Exam including costs, times and registration details.

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BPS Webinar

Information on the BPS Webinar

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