As part of the application and selection process, applicants must complete two examinations:
- RACS Generic Surgical Science Examination
- NSA Neurosurgery Anatomy Examination
The RACS Generic Surgical Sciences Examination is designed to demonstrate that the candidate understands anatomy, pathology and physiology at levels required for surgical training. It is not a neurosurgery specific examination. Successful completion of the RACS Generic Surgical Science Examination is a prerequisite to apply for selection for the Training Program so future applicants should be planning to sit this in the year prior to their first application to the Training Program. Information on the RACS Generic Surgical Science Examination is available on the RACS website
The NSA Neurosurgery Anatomy Examination is designed to demonstrate that the candidate understands neuroanatomy and is a selection tool used as part of the selection process for the Training Program. Applicants can only sit this as part of the selection process, and must sit on each occasion they apply for selection to the Training Program. Further details can be found here
The Fellowship Examination in Neurosurgery (Fellowship Examination) is a summative assessment which must be satisfactorily completed during Advanced Neurosurgical Training. The Fellowship Examination is comprised of written and clinical/viva components as determined by the RACS Court of Examiners for Neurosurgery.
The required standard for the Fellowship Examination is a level of competency equivalent to that of a consultant neurosurgeon in his or her first year of independent practice. The surgical competencies espoused by the RACS are used as a guideline for the examiners, who follow agreed marking guidelines and the predetermined standard. The Fellowship Examination reflects the SET Program curriculum. Information on the RACS Fellowship Examination, including guidelines and past papers, are available on the RACS website.
To be eligible to apply for and present for the Fellowship Examination, the trainee:
- must be in Advanced Neurosurgical Training or eligible to progress to Advanced Neurosurgical Training; and
- must have satisfactorily completed the Research Publication Requirement; and
- must have been assessed as Satisfactory in the two active Clinical Terms immediately prior; and
- must not have an active Performance Improvement Notice; and
- must satisfy any condition in an Unsatisfactory Performance Notice applicable to eligibility to present for the Fellowship Examination by the due date; and
- must not be on a period of interruption; and
- must not be suspended; and
- must not be subject to Misconduct Procedures; and
- must not be the subject of Dismissal Procedures; and
- must satisfy any conditions set forth by the RACS.
Registration and delivery of the Fellowship Examination is managed by the RACS, with a fee charged. There are strict closing dates, with full details available on the RACS website www.surgeons.org.
Training Seminar Practice Examination
A Practice Examination will be held annually. Participation in the Practice Examination will form part of the Training Seminar Requirement. The Practice Examination will be a single written paper, based on questions taken or adapted from previous Fellowship Examination papers. The Practice Examination is formative, so there is no minimum pass mark required as part of the SET Program. This is designed to assist trainees in their preparation for the Fellowship Examination by providing feedback on strengths and weaknesses in their responses.
The Practice Examination will be held at such a time and place, and under such conditions, as determined by the Board. This will usually be during a Training Seminar and will run for 120 minutes with the paper consisting of two essay questions and one short answer question. The Practice Examination must be attempted by trainees in their third or later years of Intermediate Neurosurgical Training, and trainees in Advanced Neurosurgical Training who have not satisfactorily completed the Fellowship Examination.
Answers will be reviewed and comments sent to the trainees and their supervisor within 60 days of completion of the Practice Examination to assist them in their preparation for the Fellowship Examination and determination of preparedness to present for the Fellowship Examination.
Training Seminar Anatomy Examination
An Anatomy Examination will be held during each Training Seminar. Participation in the Anatomy Examination will form part of the Training Seminar Requirement. The Anatomy Examination is formative, so there is no minimum pass mark required as part of the SET Program. It is designed to assist trainees in ensuring that their basic science knowledge relevant to neurosurgery is maintained throughout training and to help trainees and supervisors identify a trainee’s strengths and weaknesses and target areas for improvement.
The Anatomy Examination must be attempted by all trainees except those who have successfully completed the Fellowship Examination or are presenting for the Practice Examination during the Training Seminar. The Anatomy Examination will be held at such a time and place, and under such conditions, as determined by the Board. It will usually consist of 30 questions over 50 minutes. The recommended reading is Last’s Anatomy, Regional and Applied, 9th Edition, 1998 (reprinted 2003) – McMinn R.M.H., Churchill Livingstone and/or Last's Anatomy - Revised Edition 9th Edition (2019) – McMinn R.M.H., Churchill Livingstone. Results will be sent to the trainees and their supervisor within 30 days of completion.