11.6  The Australian RACE Examination

At the time of writing, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) Advanced Clinical Examination (RACE) consists of two parts: a written examination and a clinical examination. Both parts must be passed to pass RACE.

Written Examination

  • The written examination is taken on a computer over 3 hours. It consists of two parts: very short answer questions (VSAQs) which test factual knowledge, and short answer questions (SAQs) which are small essay questions that explore topics in more details
  • It is the opinion of the authors that the VSAQ questions are difficult to predict and study for, and therefore your attention should be devoted to maximising your mark in the SAQs. Knowledge for VSAQ questions will come with sufficient exposure to cases in the clinic and time studying. It is probably unwise to devote specific time to studying lists for the VSAQs as there is a huge variety of material that can be tested
  • A typical SAQ comes in one of three varieties:
  1. A patient vignette of a non-specific presentation that require the candidate assess the patient and offer initial treatment
  2. A patient vignette, specific for a particular disease, that require the candidate treat and manage
  3. A detailed question assessing knowledge about a particular topic, often without reference to a specific patient
  • Other question types are also possible
  • For RACE with 15-minute short-answer questions, the following time allotment is suggested:
    • 3 minutes brainstorming during reading time
    • 3 minutes formalising answer plan
    • 11 minutes writing
    • 1 minute checking
  • See Section 11.3 Written Examinations for further advice regarding how to answer RANZCO SAQs

Clinical Examination

  • At the time of writing, the RANZCO RACE Clinical Examinations are held over a two-day period. Nine stations each day (total of eighteen stations) are completed, with nine minutes to complete each station and two minutes to move between stations
  • Two stations of each of the nine-core topic areas must be included, although not necessarily one each day. Each station is run by an ophthalmologist. Not all stations have live patients. The ophthalmologist may or may not be a sub-specialist in the area you are being examined in, but the passing standard is always that of a safe general ophthalmologist
  • Failure in both stations of a core topic will usually result in failure of the examination
  • There are no tricks to passing the RACE clinical examinations. Candidates who have seen a large diversity and number of patients / surgeries on busy terms throughout their training seem to do well. When stuck, thinking what you would do usually on call, in the emergency department, or in clinic or theatre will get you out of many stressful scenarios


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