What is the pathway for an International Medical graduate to become a registered doctor in Australia?
As an international medical graduate, there are a series of steps to follow to become a registered doctor in Australia. AMC is your verification jurisdiction of Australia that asserts the AMC’s qualification portal utilised by the Medical Board of Australia and for registration purposes and by all Australian specialist medical schools for assessment purposes.
AMC is the assessment authority to evaluate the IMGs following the AMC Standard Pathway and is the only authority to provide the international medical graduates with a license to practice medicine in Australia.
The AMC Standard Pathway
The Standard Pathway is for international medical graduates seeking general registration with the Board. This pathway applies to international medical graduates who are not eligible for the Competent Authority Pathway or the Specialist Pathway.
International medical graduates who have a primary qualification in medicine and surgery awarded by a training institution recognised by both the Australian Medical Council and the World Directory of Medical Schools (WDOMS) can apply for assessment under this pathway.
The Conventional AMC Standard Pathway has 3 Main steps
1. Primary source verification through ECFMG/EPIC
2. AMC MCQ-CAT Exam
3. AMC Clinical Exam
Step 1: Primary source verification through ECFMG/EPIC
On successful completion of the assessment examinations, you will be awarded the Australian Medical Council certificate, which is a document stating your eligibility for provisional registration – a requirement for landing a job offer in Australia. It is important to note that this registration is processed by a different authority than the AMC, i.e. AHPRA/RACGP, which are medical regulatory agencies and are not assessment bodies.
What baffles these international medical graduates who embark on this journey to Australia as a medical professional are the pass rates for these exams. It is true that the pass rates vary and are not a fixed standard. Let us, however, look at some statistics that will give you a broad idea of how these exams work.
As per the latest statistics, the MCQ Exam was administered to a total of 569 candidates in a weeklong period – 18th – 23rd November 2019, 264 of these candidates appeared in non- Aussie venues and the rest in Australian venues.
A total of 323 candidates passed during this assessment period, thereby bringing the pass rate above 50% – i.e. 56.76%
The yearly pass rate in 2018-19 was 62.6% as opposed to 64.3% in 2017-18 as per official reports, i.e. with a 1.7% decrease.
Step 2: AMC MCQ Exam
The AMC MCQ Examination tests knowledge of the principles and practice of medicine in the fields of general practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology. It focuses on essential medical knowledge, involving an understanding of the disease process; clinical examination and diagnosis; and investigation, therapy, and management.
The AMC Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) MCQ Examination is a computer-administered multi-choice question examination taken in one 3.5-hour session.
The examination consists of 150 A-type MCQs (one correct response from five options) —120 scored items and 30 (non-scored) pilot items. All 150 questions must be attempted, and the scored 120 questions are compulsory. Failure to complete all 120 scored items in the examination may lead to insufficient information for a reliable determination of your ability and therefore a result on the AMC adaptive scale. The examination result is recorded as ‘Fail —Insufficient data to obtain result’.
The content blueprint for the AMC MCQ Exam is as follows.
The AMC MCQ Exam operates as a pass/fail examination. The pass standard is set at the level of knowledge required of a graduating Australian medical school student. AMC ensures the required pass standard is maintained through AMC MCQ Exam questions and by benchmarking against the standard required of Australian medical students.
This exam is an adaptive computer test administered at specific Pearson VUE centres and can also be taken in countries outside Australia. Information regarding available test centres is available on the AMC website while information on MCQ courses to prepare for the exams can be found here. The test is scored out of 500 with a pass mark of 250.
Only candidates who have successfully obtained more than 50% in the AMC MCQ Exam are eligible to book the AMC Clinical Exam.
Step 3 AMC Clinical Exam
The AMC Clinical Exam assesses clinical skills in medicine, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry. It also assesses the candidate’s ability to communicate with patients, their families, and other health workers.
The format of the AMC clinical exam is 20 stations comprising 14 scored stations, 2 pilot (non-scored) stations, and 4 rest (non-scored) stations. AMC removed the clinical exam retest from 1 January 2019, along with a change in the passing score from 11/14 to 10/14 and the introduction of non-scored pilot stations. You can find information on AMC Clinical courses here.
The new AMC clinical exam model is as shown below
It is no secret that the Clinical examination pass rates are significantly lower in comparison to the MCQ pass rates. However, information on various blogs stating the pass rates are always less than 10% is not trust-worthy information.
Based on the weekly Clinical exam results that are published on the official website, the pass rate is between 20 – 35%.
In 2018-19, a total of 1978 IMG’s appeared for the Clinical exam out of which 537 candidates cleared an obtained the AMC certificate. More than 50% of these candidates were repeaters and there were just under 50% of first-timers! This confirms a yearly pass rate of 27.1%, as opposed to a 29% pass rate in 2017-18. Pass rates in previous years, unfortunately, do confirm a slow downward trend, with also a decrease in the total number of candidates appearing for the exam overall.
Candidates who score low or retake AMC MCQ Exam are more likely to fail the AMC Clinical Exam and since you cant retake Clinical Exam now, it is incredibly important that you are well prepared for the Clinical Exam.
There is a lot of study material available online to prepare for both exams; however, it is always advised that you take a professional course, taught by professional and experienced international IMGs (International Medical Graduates) who have gone through the whole process and can share tips and tricks of passing these MCQ and Clinical Exams on the first go. Information on such courses can be found here if you are an international medical graduate.