Exams and assessments

Membership of the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) is normally achieved through examination in two separate parts, Part A and Part B (also known as OSPHE - Objective Structured Public Health Examination).

Part A is a national exam held twice per year, in January and June. Registrars in the East of England sit their Part A in the January following completion of the initial academic (M Phil) year and Part B is normally taken around 9 to 12 months following a pass at Part A. A registrar who has passed both Parts A and B is enrolled as a Member of the Faculty. There are no further mandatory exams in the training programme.

Part A is the "knowledge" exam, testing understanding of public health concepts including epidemiology, statistics and social sciences.

Part B is a practical exam, designed to allow registrars to demonstrate their skills in communication and understanding of practical public health.

In addition to these national exams, there is a test of communicable disease control knowledge and its application - the "on call" assessment. This is taken after Part A and, as the name suggests, must be passed before a registrar may go on the on call rota for out of hours health protection work.

For full FPH guidance on exams, please click here.

Part A

Overview

Part A MFPH is the first part of the Faculty of Public Health membership exams and must be passed before Part B can be completed. Completion of both parts of the MFPH examination is a requirement for obtaining a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) through the training programme. The exam tests knowledge and skills that are required for the practice of public health. The exam is in written format and consists of two papers, 1 and 2, taken over two consecutive days.

Click here for more information on practical aspects of the Part A exam.

Programme Support

The programme provides registrars with support during the lead up to the Part A exam which is taken during phase 1 of training, usually around 16 months after starting the programme. Registrars are give the opportunity to be part of a cohort learning group and the support includes a mock exam, a registrar-led mentoring system, and the opportunity for taught revision sessions to address needs and knowledge gaps identified by candidates. In addition to the programme support, individuals may also choose to attend other revision courses held outside the east of England and the training programme funds attendance at one Part A revision course outside the region. (See below)

Detailed information on the exam structure, content, and the process for applying to sit the exam (along with details of application deadlines and fees) is available at the website of the Faculty of Public Health.

Below are examples of resources that registrars who have passed the Part A exam have found useful:

Part A exam syllabus

This facilitates analysis of the gap between the syllabus and the content of Masters Courses in public health; and planning the preparation for the exam. No Masters course covers the entirety of the Part A syllabus.

Faculty past examination papers

It is likely that in the near future the FPH will stop publishing past papers so as to maintain a "bank" of questions. This is already the case for the Paper 2B (data and statistics) questions, although a small number of specimen questions are available on the FPH website. Multiple registrars have, however, reported that these questions are rather different to those encountered in the exam. EoE registrars are strongly encouraged to seek guidance from the training faculty around advice for preparing for Paper 2.

Success at Part A depends on breadth of knowledge and an understanding of the approach required for a satisfactory answer. "Book learning" of factual material is of course important but the backbone of preparation for this exam tends to be timed practice questions, preferably submitted to a supervising consultant or senior registrar for feedback. The more practice you are able to fit in, the better - and remember, we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes so do not be afraid to approach seniors for feedback early on.

It is also very important to practice all areas of the examination. There is a temptation to focus on learning material for Paper 1 at the expense of critical appraisal and data / stats practice (for Paper 2). We strongly recommend that you divide your attention and revision resources equally between the two papers and, in particular, seek early feedback on your attempts at critical appraisal as well as Paper 1 questions.

The Part A examination is under development and there have been some recent changes to marking techniques. These do not affect the syllabus nor the approach candidates should take to preparation, but for those who are interested more details can be found here:

https://www.fph.org.uk/training-careers/part-a-b-exams/part-a-exam/part-a-development-page/

Support for preparing for the exam is available to all registrars on the training programme, including individual consultations with Dr Anne Swift, Training Programme Director and exams lead, where required. Please contact Hannah Gunn (hannah.gunn@phe.gov.uk) if you would like to meet with Dr Swift.

Part B/OSPHE

Overview

Most trainers in the East of England are fully trained in Part B (OSPHE) and will offer regular practice in the service setting. Local Part B examiners can be approached for 1:1 practice and the programme director will also offer 1:1 or group practice. Registrars are strongly advised to seek regular practice during routine service work and to work as a group to identify topics. Senior registrars are an excellent source of advice and support for this exam.

OSPHE training

The East of England aims to provide an annual OSPHE training day. This familiarisation and mock exam is intended to be offered in the Autumn each year. It aims to familiarise registrars with the format and style of the exam in order that they may apply the learning in service during the lead up to an examination attempt.

The mock exam replicates the real exam as closely as possible.

All the details regarding the OSPHE training day will be emailed to the appropriate registrars in advance by the Public Health training Administrator.

Information on the competencies tested in OSPHE, the exam structure and the application process can be found here.

Below are a series of documents that registrars who have passed the OSPHE exam have found useful and wanted to share with others who are taking the exam.

Further Knowledge and Skills

Health Knowledge - an online learning resource for public health practitioners

Critical Appraisal Skills

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