FRCPath Part 1 – an in-depth guide for overseas histopathologists 

  • July 03, 2022

The first exam in the FRCPath Histopathology series... 

International histopathologists (or cellular or anatomical pathologists as commonly known) looking to secure a job in the NHS via the postgraduate qualification route will need to attain Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists. This can also be commonly referred to as FRCPath Histopathology. 

The completion of Part 1 and Part 2 of the Royal College of Pathology qualification for Histopathology results in eligibility for GMC registration (with the addition of the English language component). The FRCPath qualification is recommended for overseas pathologists looking to securing senior jobs in the NHS. 

The exams can be taken by IMGs from all over the world, provided certain eligibility criteria have been met. Here we’ll take a closer look into these and other important questions through the following topics: 

Skip ahead to the relevant section if you know what you’re looking for. 

An overview of FRCPath Histopathology 

The FRCPath Histopathology exams are administered by the Royal College of Pathologists to test a doctor's knowledge and ability to apply this in the practice of histopathology within the scope of the Specialty Training Curriculum for Histopathology

The exams are as follows: 

  • FRCPath Part 1 
  • FRCPath Part 2 

To read more about the full FRCPath examination suite via our IMG resources, please click here

Please note that only full FRCPath satisfies the requirements for GMC registration for overseas doctors taking the postgraduate route.  

Alternative routes to GMC registration include PLAB and other licensing exams such as USMLE. You can find out more about alternative routes here

For doctors who are interested in more senior roles in the NHS that are reflective of their current practice, we advise that FRCPath is the best route to take to GMC registration. Histopathology in the UK is consultant-led specialism; and many NHS job postings will have FRCPath as a requirement for doctors who are not on the Specialist Register. 

FRCPath Part 1 breakdown 

FRCPath Part 1 is the first exam in the Royal College of Pathologists qualification. It is broken down into three sections as follows: 

The three-hour exam is designed to assess candidates’ overall knowledge and understanding of histopathology or cytopathology, including the full range of autopsy practices undertaken in a district general hospital in the UK and the basic science underpinning pathology, including molecular biology. 

FRCPath Part 1 delivery 

In response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Royal College of Pathologists has migrated the FRCPath Part 1 exam online. 

This means FRCPath Part 1 may be taken from the comfort of your own home. This development allows the College to continue to offer the FRCPath Part 1 exam to both UK trainees and overseas pathologists.  

For full details about the online FRCPath Part 1 exam, please see our blog here


Candidates for FRCPath Part 1 will generally require experience of Histopathology specialty training to reach the standard required to pass the exam. The Royal College advise that candidates take this exam after one year of specialty training. 

Exam dates, applications and cost 

The cost of the exam is £673 and the exam are usually held twice a year, in spring and in autumn/winter. 

Applications for each sitting open a few months prior and close after around 6 weeks. While waiting for exam dates to be finalised the College advise that candidates should apply early and will be able to withdraw their application for a full refund should the date be unsuitable. 

For up-to-date information on exam and application dates, keep an eye on the College website here


There are many resources available to help you prepare for your FRCPath Part 1 exam. As always, we recommend that the best starting point for your study is the Royal College website, particularly the Curriculum for Specialty Training in Histopathology. Your exam is based on this curriculum so familiarising yourself with it as soon as possible will give you the best chance of success. 

Other helpful resources for your study include: 

Regulations and guidelines – before applying for FRCPath exams, the College recommends you read both the general and specialty-specific regulations and guidelines, found below: 

Social media study groups – there are multiple study groups available across different platforms such as Telegram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. IMG Connect hosts study groups for FRCPath Part 1 – these forums bring together overseas histopathologists in one communicative, constructive, and moderated space for learning, sharing, and support. 

If you are interested in joining the IMG Connect FRCPath Part 1 study group, please email to speak to request your admission. 

Online courses, videos and other resources - there are some great online courses and resources available to prepare for the FRCPath Part 1 exam. These include everything from full mock exams to flashcards and YouTube videos. We’ve compiled all these which you can access here, through our IMG Resources library. 

FAQs - There is also a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document which the Royal College has compiled to help applicants who have questions about online examinations. You can read this here

#IMG Tips 

  1. Prepare early – getting your revision going as soon as possible will help you avoid those last-minute cramming sessions and increase your chances of passing first time. 
  2. Speak to your colleagues and peers – there are so many study materials to choose from - who better to ask for recommendations than histopathologists who have been through the process or are going through it with you? 
  3. Familiarise yourself with the online format – there’s no bigger headache than a bad connection – go through your IT checks well in advance to avoid (most) hiccups on the day 
  4. Join the online histopathology community – connect with like-minded histopathologists and dedicated pathology recruiters in the IMG Histopathologists Facebook group

Follow us on social media for news and updates on GMC registration, the Royal College and NHS through the links below:



I’ve passed the FRCPath Part 1 exam, what’s next? 

Congratulations – this is a massive achievement! After a well-deserved break, it’s time to look forward to FRCPath Part 2. For more information on the final exam in the examination suite, take a look at our blog where we explore FRCPath Part 2 and everything you need to know about how to sit the exam, including syllabus, dates, results, fees and preparation. 

For more useful blogs & articles on the FRCPath exams, registrations & qualifications to help you find your dream job in the NHS - take a look at our IMG library


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