COVID-19 - FAQs on anaesthesia exams for 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a major impact on where and when we run our exams.

Dates and locations for the primary and final exam are listed on the anaesthesia exams page

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions in relation to our exams recognising that further changes may be required should the COVID-19 pandemic create circumstances beyond our control.

General questions

Why is ANZCA running exams this year?

We know that the majority of trainees are eager to progress through the training program in spite of difficulties created by the pandemic, so enabling this to happen is a priority for ANZCA.

We have a responsibility to assist those candidates from the first sitting in 2020 to complete their exams. 

The reasons for continuing with the second sitting are twofold. The first is the desire of the candidates to progress, and we acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices already undertaken by them. The second focus is that of potential workforce congestion and the difficulties that will develop across Australia and New Zealand should exams not occur. This may be alleviated somewhat by the council decision to allow progression of trainees undertaking 2020 exams.

Will the delay in exams delay my progression through training?

All trainees currently sitting exams in 2020 will be permitted to progress to the next phase of their training. If successful in their examination sitting the exam sitting date will be backdated to the original scheduled date of the viva exam.  Once all other requirements are completed trainees will have time credited that they have spent in the next phase of training prior to completing the exam.

Does ANZCA have a plan to conduct regional viva exams in place of a central exam?

ANZCA has moved to a regional approach to the delivery of the primary and final exams. This will require exams to be conducted in state hubs and in New Zealand. The plans for the delivery in this mode is dependent on examiner availability. Delivery of regional exams requires vivas to be delayed and a “rolling schedule” conducted for the primary exam. The final exam vivas will be conducted regionally on a set date across the country rather than over an extended period “rolling schedule" approach. Every effort will be made for candidates to be able to complete the 20.1 viva exams in 2020 but it is likely the 20.2 exams will be delayed until early 2021.


With regional exams would trainees be examined by the same examiner for multiple viva stations?

The examination sub-committees are planning for multiple examiners to be available in each Australian state and New Zealand, where possible. We are exploring enlisting the help of recently retired examiners to assist, and will aim to have multiple examiners so that candidates are not examined by the same examiner more than once. This may not always be possible. It is a requirement within the primary exam that candidates are examined by two examiners and this requirement will be maintained regardless of the examination process adopted.

Will ANZCA consider using a technology-assisted solution for the viva exams?

ANZCA has been exploring the use of technology to deliver vivas for some months.  A working group has been established to explore and pilot technology assisted solutions for the delivery of the vivas.  These options may be used to assist candidates in states that do not have sufficient examiners to deliver the vivas.  The piloting of this is part of the reason for the delay of the vivas in order to give all candidates holding invitations to a viva the opportunity to be examined in either a face to face or technology assisted manner

Does ANZCA have sufficient examiners to conduct all the viva exams?

There are not sufficient local examiners for a regional approach for all exams in each state. Solutions are being explored and include rolling exams, for the primary viva, over an extended period of weeks. Logistics associated with this approach would be released as soon as practical.

Are all trainees guaranteed of completing the viva in 2020?

Not all trainees will complete the viva in 2020. Our priority is to allow primary and final first sitting (20.1) candidates to complete their exams.

As the exam schedules are being altered we will be considering examiner capacity in each state but it is likely a large number of the 2020.2 primary and final vivas will be conducted in early 2021. There are sufficient examiners to examine New Zealand candidates in both primary and final exams..

Can trainees sit both first sitting vivas and the second sitting exam?

A candidate can only be actively sitting one exam at a time. 

However, due to delays in the viva exams any unsuccessful candidate from the 2020 exams is permitted to apply to sit the next exam sitting within five working days of receiving their result.  This will provide these candidates with an exemption from the closing date for exam applications.

What happens if you are unable to attend the exam due to travel or health issues?

Candidates may withdraw from sitting 2020 exams without penalty if they are unable to travel or due to health reasons.

Up to what date can a candidate withdraw from the second sitting of the exam?

Candidates may withdraw from the 2020 exams with NO penalty. Please contact the primary or final exam team if you wish withdraw.

What happens if I reach the limits for extended training as a result of the exams being postponed?

If trainees are reaching the maximum time limits, they will be granted a retention in extended training. They will need to make an application to the DPA assessors as per the normal processes.

Will candidates be provided with an additional exam attempt?

Candidates who currently hold an invitation to the 20.1, primary or final exams, will be provided with an additional exam attempt if they are unsuccessful.

Candidates who are registered to sit the 20.2 primary and final exams, will be provided with an additional exam attempt if they are unsuccessful.

Candidates who were unsuccessful in the 20.1 primary and final written exams are not eligible for an additional exam attempt.

Final exam

Will ANZCA consider conducting the final written exam at more sites?

ANZCA is planning to hold written exams at additional sites for the final exam. This has resulted from candidates not needing to attend a medical clinical exam. 

The additional sites will be restricted to venues that now host the primary written exams. This will help ensure the exam protocols are adhered to.

*last updated: 10 August 2020

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Last updated 15:22 12.08.2020