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MSRA Guidance for Applicants

To view the guide, please expand the relevant chapters. A downloadable copy of this guidance is available in PDF format from the Resource Bank.

The Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA) is a computer-based assessment, delivered in partnership with Work Psychology Group and Pearson VUE, has been designed to assess some of the essential competences outlined in the CT/ST1 Person Specifications and is based around clinical scenarios.

The MSRA is utilised by a number of CT/ST1 postgraduate medical specialties. Each speciality considers the MSRA differently as part of its selection process. It is recommended that you visit specific national recruitment websites and familiarise yourself with the appropriate guidance of that specialty. This guidance details the process for entry to General Practice ST1, ACF and GHF.

All applicants who apply to GP for the first time in any given recruitment year are required to sit the MSRA. There are no exceptions or exemptions to this requirement. A recruitment year commences in November and spans to the October of the following year. It comprises of Round 1 and Round 1 Re-advert for an August commencement and Round 2 for a February commencement.

A successful MSRA outcome will be valid for the entirety of the recruitment year in which it was undertaken. If you are successful in one round and you chose to re-apply in a subsequent round within the same recruitment year, your outcome will carry over.

If you have previously sat the MSRA for a specialty other than GP, you will not be required to re-sit the MSRA in a subsequent round within the same recruitment year provided the outcome you achieved meets the minimum threshold required for GP.

A successful outcome cannot be carried over into successive recruitment years.

Re-sitting the MSRA in a recruitment year

If you were unsuccessful in achieving the minimum threshold required for GP training, you will be required to undertake a re-sit. A successful outcome from a previous recruitment year cannot be carried over.

If you were previously successful in a previous round within the same recruitment year you will not be permitted to re-sit the MSRA.

There are two component parts to the MSRA - a Professional Dilemmas (PD / SJT) paper and a Clinical Problem Solving (CPS) paper. The length of each paper is as follows:

Paper Length / Time
Professional Dilemmas (PD / SJT) 110 minutes
Clinical Problem Solving (CPS) 75 minutes

The papers are independently timed and the time remaining in each paper in denoted by an onscreen countdown timer.

On completion of the Professional Dilemmas paper, the timer on the Clinical Problem Solving paper will commence automatically after 2 minutes; a 2 minute countdown timer will be displayed onscreen. The Clinical Problem Solving paper can be started earlier by pressing Next on the screen.

The structure of both papers, including the question types, the competency domains being assessed and the scoring process is detailed in full in the MSRA Test Blueprint & Information document; you are strongly advised to read this document. Sample and practice questions for both of the papers are available from the GPNRO Resource Bank.

In addition to the MSRA test blueprint document and sample questions, Pearson VUE offer a generic tutorial to aid you in familiarising yourself with the controls and screen layouts in advance of the test. This tutorial can be undertaken at http://www.pearsonvue.com/athena/.

All HEE Local Offices and Deaneries are aware of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate requests provided these are made known in advance. If you require any adjustments (e.g. wheelchair access, extra time, nursing mothers) you must inform your first preference HEE Local Office / Deanery or GPNRO of any special requirements, evidenced by supporting documentation at the earliest possible opportunity and by no later than the application closing date. Adjustments cannot be guaranteed if contact is made after the specified deadline and no adjustments can be made on the day of the test.

In some instances, in order to satisfy requests for adjustments, it may be necessary to schedule you in test centre at a specific time or in a specific location.

Nursing Mothers Policy

In line with the Equality Act 2010 the GPNRO will consider requests from nursing mothers to provide suitable facilities in the MSRA test centres. If this applies to you then you must submit this information with your application form. The GPNRO will then liaise with Pearson VUE in order to try and honour your request.

It is recommended that any nursing mothers check the location of the test centre before booking a test to ensure that nearby facilities meet any requirements you may have. Address details for each Pearson VUE Centre can be found at http://www.pearsonvue.com/nro/locate.

Comfort Aids

Pearson VUE list a number of medicines, medical and mobility devices as comfort aids which do not require pre-approval as an accommodation by the GPNRO. Comfort aid items are listed on the Pearson VUE website in the test accommodations section.

The items listed will be allowed in the testing room upon visual inspection by Test Center staff. Visual inspection will be done by examining the item without directly touching it (or the applicant) and without asking the applicant to remove the item, unless otherwise stated in Pearson VUE’s comfort aid list.

The MSRA is delivered on a number of consecutive days throughout the whole of the UK in a large number of Pearson VUE Computer Testing Centres.

All applicants who reside in or, are in employment in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) during the assessment window are expected to attend a UK test centre.

Overseas Test Centres

If you are in residence and/or employment outside of the UK during the MSRA window, you will be offered an opportunity to sit the test in a number of core, pre-approved EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA locations.

You will be presented with the opportunity to select your preferred location from a list of pre-approved non-UK locations at the time of application. However, you should be aware that the number of places in some centres is limited and therefore you are advised to submit you application as soon as possible. Overseas test places will be given on a first come first served basis subject to availability and whilst every effort will be made to accommodate you in your preferred location, this cannot be guaranteed and you may be required to attend the nearest location with availability at short notice.

Declining Overseas Requests

If the information contained on your application form does not satisfy either of the non-UK residency/employment criteria, your request will be declined and you will be notified that you will be required to attend a UK test centre.

Once the application window has closed, you will receive a message from the GPNRO asking you to register with Pearson VUE using very specific account credentials provided in the message. If you have applied to other specialties, you may receive multiple messages containing the same credentials from each. In this instance, you only need to register once. Pearson VUE credentials are unique to each recruitment round. Therefore, if you have previously sat the MSRA, you will be required to re-register with the details provided. Failure to register will result you being unable to sit the MSRA and your GP application(s) will be withdrawn.

It is important to remember that the registration correspondence is not an invitation to attend the MSRA; on completion of registration, your account will correctly state you do not have any pre-approved exams at this time.

All applicants who have been assessed as demonstrating evidence of eligibility as outlined in the Longlisting section of the GP ST1 Applicant Guidance will be invited to sit the MSRA. If you are invited, you will be required to book an appointment and undertake the MSRA; failure to do so will result in your GP application(s) not progressing further.

Booking a test

If you are invited to the MSRA, you will be required to log into your Pearson VUE account and use the self-service functionality to the book a test at a centre, date and time of your choosing, subject to availability. The only exception to this is if you have requested an overseas test centre or special accommodation under the Equality Act 2010; in this instance, you will be contacted directly by Pearson VUE with details of your appointment provided you have completed the registration process outlined in Section 6.

When booking your test, it is strongly recommended that you avoid booking from a mobile device or internet browsers that have reached the end of their product support lifecycle as these are unlikely to be supported.

When searching for seat availability at test centres by location, Pearson VUE will return a maximum of 30 test centres per location search. To view more test centres, you will need to alter your search criterion.

Confirmation of test booking

Once you have booked your test, you will receive an automated confirmation of booking email to your registered email address. If you do not receive confirmation, log into your Pearson VUE account to confirm if the booking process was completed in its entirety.

You must arrive at the test centre at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to complete the necessary check-in procedures. It is essential that you arrive on time as applicants who arrive late will NOT be admitted entry.

At reception, you will be required to present either a:

  • current valid passport,
  • a current valid UK or EU photo card driving licence (full or provisional) or
  • a biometric residency card.

If you opt to present a passport and it is a biometric passport with no signature, you will be required to present a secondary form of identification with your full name and signature e.g. a debit/credit card or NHS ID card.

Please check that your first name and last name, as declared on your GP application form match EXACTLY with the identification documents that you intend to present on the day of your test.

You should note that children are not permitted at any of the test centres.

Alternative Identification Documents

If you are unable to present any of the three documents listed above or, your first name and last name does not match EXACTLY with the one of the three documents that you intend to present on the day of your test, you must contact the GPNRO at the earliest opportunity at gpnro@hee.nhs.uk for further advice and instructions on suitable alternatives.

Failure to notify the GPNRO of any discrepancies will result in you not being permitted entry to sit the test.

Personal belongings

You will not be allowed to take any personal items with you into the testing room. This includes all bags, books or other materials not authorised for the MSRA, notes, phones, pagers, watches and wallets.

Breaks and refreshments

You are prohibited from taking food and drink into the test room. You may leave the test room for water or a comfort break, but no additional time will be allowed in your test. If you wish to leave the room, you must ask the invigilator. Please note that you will not be permitted to eat whilst in the test centre.

If you wish to reschedule your test, you may do this via your Pearson VUE account for the test in question, within the test booking period. If you are an applicant with a pre-approved adjustment or sitting the test overseas and wish to reschedule your test, please contact Pearson VUE via email at nrocustomerservice@pearson.com. You must reschedule test appointments at least 24 hours before the appointment.

If you wish to cancel your test, you may do this via your Pearson VUE account for the test in question, within the test booking period. If you are a candidate with a pre-approved adjustment or sitting the test overseas and wish to cancel your test, please contact Pearson VUE through email at nrocustomerservice@pearson.com. You must cancel test appointments at least 24 hours before the appointment.

If you miss your test and wish to schedule another appointment, please contact the GPNRO at gpnro@hee.nhs.uk immediately; you will not be able to re-book online via self-service without first being re-authorised by the GPNRO. You should be aware that test centre availability is likely to limited at this point and that you may be required to travel beyond your preferred locality.

Regrettably, the GPNRO will be unable to accommodate you if you miss an appointment on the final day of the MSRA window.

All applicants will be notified of their results, and thus their performance/outcome a short time after the conclusion of the testing window. The date by which you can expect your results is disclosed in the GP recruitment timeline for each round. The timeline can be found on the Recruitment webpage of the GPNRO website.

The results will be published in your Oriel account against your GP ST1 application as shortlist scores. Detailed guidance on how to locate or view these scores is contained in the Oriel Applicant User Handbook.

Appealing the Outcome

All applicants will receive feedback when they are notified of their outcome. The outcome is final and cannot be reviewed, re-marked or disputed. There is no appeals process.

If you feel your application has not been managed correctly and have evidence of a failure in the process, there is a national complaints policy and procedure. You should explore this route if you have any concerns about your application. A copy of the policy can be located in the GPRNO Resource Bank.

The GPNRO has introduced the Direct Pathway to Offers.

All applicants who achieve a combined total score of 575 in the MSRA will qualify for a streamlined route which does not require them to attend a face-to-face assessment at Selection Centre. If you qualify for this route, you will be ranked first, before those who were deemed appointable via Selection Centre, increasing your chance of receiving an offer of training at a programme in one of your more preferred programmes/locations.

If you qualify for this direct route but you are subject to the Resident Labour Market Test, you will only be offered a post after all UK/EU/EEA applicants have been offered, including those who underwent an assessment at Selection Centre.

Maximum Achievable Score

Due to the normalisation of all MSRA scores, there is no maximum achievable score. For a given cohort of applicants, normalisation is dependent on the average performance of said cohort and therefore, it is not considered meaningful to interpret the scores achieved in the MSRA with a maximum value.

The GPNRO can confirm that a score of 575 approximately represents the top 10 percentile in the first round of recruitment.

Expenses incurred by applicants in attending the MSRA will not be reimbursed by the GPNRO. The MSRA is delivered on a number of consecutive days throughout the whole of the UK in a vast array number of Pearson VUE test centres. You are therefore expected to attend a venue close to your residence or place of work.

None of the GP question writers take part in or endorse any preparation courses or books.

The GPNRO understands that applicants may wish to revise and prepare for the MSRA with each other in small groups. However, sharing information about the actual assessments is unacceptable and is viewed as unprofessional behaviour. The MSRA uses a large number of different equated test forms and therefore knowledge of questions in one paper will not necessarily benefit others. We would also remind all applicants that entry to GP specialty training is competitive.