Why does the College hold simulated office oral (SOO) examinations in addition to written exams?Examinations are an important final step in assessing the skills, expertise, and competence of family medicine learners. The exams help validate the knowledge and skills they have gained through their competency-based medical education. The oral component remains an important aspect of testing candidates’ abilities and readiness for practice using a real-world approach.
Why is the College moving to the virtual delivery of SOOs?The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the College from delivering the SOOs in their traditional, in-person format and recent cancellations of this component of the certification examination have affected candidates and family medicine training programs. At the same time, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to identify and improve the SOO experience for candidates and examiners in several ways, including:
- Greater convenience and enhanced flexibility as candidates and examiners may not need to travel
- The avoidance of sudden hindrances or limitations that the pandemic or other unanticipated circumstances or environmental factors could cause
- The optimal and progressive use of technology to support high-quality examination delivery
What will not change in the delivery of the SOOs?While the SOO examination will be delivered differently, the high-quality standards of evaluation remain in place to ensure examination candidates meet the necessary requirements. The SOO examination will continue to include:
- Extensive planning and the leveraging of internal and external subject matter experts’ knowledge
- The structured development and design of SOO examination questions (cases) and approval by the Committee on Examinations – Family Medicine
- Oversight by the Board of Examinations and Certification
- The use of experienced examiners who serve an integrated role as patient and assessor
- Training sessions for examiners
- Exam calibration
What vendor is working with the College to deliver the virtual SOO?Through consultations with internal and external stakeholders, along with a thorough review of the expectations of candidates and examiners, the College has secured Fry-IT to facilitate the administration of the SOO via a robust examination management software called Practique. This application has demonstrated success in Canada and abroad and has been customized to address the unique requirements of the SOO examination. The virtual format will provide candidates and examiners flexibility as well as a safe and secure examination experience.
What’s different in the way SOOs will be delivered?
In November 2021 the SOO will be delivered in a fully virtual format through Practique, an examination delivery platform. This means that candidates and examiners will be interacting via real-time video and audio feeds using computers in private, secure environments. To familiarize candidates with Practique’s features, the College will provide several helpful resources:
- Direct support for candidates including an instructional guide and technical support leading up to and on the day of the exam
- Information and instructional videos for candidates (on examination logistics, platform navigation, exam-day expectations, and a demonstration of a virtual SOO encounter) will be available to support candidates in advance of the exam
- A live-stream information session and Q & A for candidates to help with examination preparation and familiarization; participants will include the Director, Certification, Assessment and Examination, and the Chair, Board of Examinations and Certification, and the session will be offered in French and English, recorded, and made available at https://www.cfpc.ca/en/exams for future reference
- Updated examination information for candidates on the https://www.cfpc.ca/en/exams web page to ensure this new exam format is fully understood and to optimize the user experience
What is a remotely proctored examination?With remote proctoring you sit the same examination (structure, format, and length) online, but in a quiet, secure place of your choosing and at your own computer instead of travelling to an examination centre.
Where can I sit the SOO component of the Certification Examination in Family Medicine?You can sit the examination at a place of your choosing (for example, your home or work environment). Examination centres will not be made available nor are you required to attend one to complete the SOO. It is your responsibility to ensure that the location you choose is private, undisturbed, and appropriate for taking a certification examination. You must be alone in the room for the duration of the exam (2.5 hours for the exam plus 15 minutes for logging in to the system and being placed in the virtual waiting room).
Candidates also must ensure they have a reliable Internet connection that is not compromised by institutional firewalls, such as those commonly found in academic institutions and other major public and private organizations.
Will the SOO continue to be delivered in a virtual format in 2022?The College currently has no plans to return to in-person examinations. It is unlikely that future certification examinations will be offered without the use of computer-assisted technology.
Will examination fees change as a result of the shift to a virtual format?Examination fees are fixed and will not change for 2021 and 2022.
What are the terms and conditions associated with sitting the SOO?You will receive and be asked to acknowledge agreement to the terms and conditions of the SOO examination approximately four weeks before your exam date. The College will retain this acknowledgement as evidence of your compliance with the rules of engagement in the SOO examination.
What is the code of conduct for the SOO?Although you may be sitting an examination in your own home, the same requirements of professional conduct apply as if you were taking the exam at a test centre. The examiner or proctor may stop any candidate suspected of misconduct, issue a warning during the examination, and, if necessary, expel the candidate from the examination.
Failure to follow the on-screen instructions and rules may be grounds for a finding of misconduct.
Examples of offences include:
- Moving out of the examiner’s sight without approval
- Having unexpected external events occur, such as a second person entering the room
- Using or possessing prohibited items such as books, notes, or additional electronic equipment
- Helping or receiving help from another candidate
- Writing down or attempting to capture any details of the exam questions
All candidates will be reminded of the code of conduct and examination rules just prior to the start of their examination.
How will testing fairness be maintained for candidates now that the SOO examination is only offered online?From a testing perspective there are no advantages to taking an exam online versus in person. Any advantages/disadvantages are purely logistical or based on individual preference.
All candidates will have the opportunity to ensure they have appropriate testing conditions and equal opportunities to become familiar with the testing format and practice materials before the exam.
Will I be expected to travel to sit the virtual SOO examination?The examination can be taken from a location of the candidate’s choice where a private, comfortable, and confidential environment can be assured. For some candidates, travel to a location that provides reliable Internet connectivity may be required (and recommended) to facilitate an uninterrupted examination experience.
Will the College increase the number of SOOs offered each year?There are no plans to offer the SOO more frequently than in past years. Spring and fall sittings will continue for the foreseeable future.
I need support. Who can help me?
The CFPC’s dedicated leadership and staff members are here to support you. Please email us at [email protected].
How do I book the SOO?As for any CFPC examination, you must apply to write the SOO and meet the required qualifications. Please see additional information on the application process.Applicants will be verified after the closing date for the submission of applications and notified via email of their acceptance approximately four to six weeks prior to their scheduled examination date. Applicants who do not qualify to sit the SOO will be advised accordingly and provided with an explanation of the necessary requirements.
Approximately two weeks before the examination you will receive an email from Fry-IT, the College’s examination delivery provider. This email will invite you to log in to the examination system (Practique) and complete some system checks. It is vital that you complete this check using your intended device (a personal or laptop computer is recommended) in the location you intend to sit the SOO no less than five days prior to the scheduled date of your examination to ensure you have access to the system and adequate connectivity.
Is there a limit to how many people can sit the examination?There is a limited number of virtual seats available for each examination; however, the College has secured sufficient places to accommodate all candidates who apply and qualify to sit the SOO.
Are test accommodations offered to candidates sitting the SOO?
Test accommodations may be available to candidates who require them for personal characteristics protected under applicable provincial human rights legislation. All requests for a test accommodation must be made when you apply to sit the examination. Reasonable adjustments, including extra time, may be approved where appropriate.
The College reserves the right to request evidence of circumstances that warrant an accommodation. Supporting documentation for test accommodations must arrive no later than 12 weeks prior to the exam date. For more information on the accommodation policy please refer to https://www.cfpc.ca/en/education-professional-development/examinations-and-certification/certification-examination-in-family-medicine/cfpc-policy-on-test-accommodations.
At this time the SOO examination is offered remotely only, so no exceptions can be made for this aspect of the exam.
Does the College offer a demonstration site that will allow me to see what the online SOO will be like?The College offers the following resources to acclimatize you to a virtual SOO examination:
Simulated office oral overview and Q & A (webinar)
Visit our Virtual SOO Candidate Training Resources page.
Can I cancel my booked examination and get a refund?Due to the significant expenses generated in the eight weeks prior to the exam, examination fee refunds will depend on the date of receipt of a written, signed withdrawal/refund request:
Candidates must withdraw and reapply should they wish to take the examination at a later date. Fees paid for a previous attempt are not transferable to a later session.
Candidates who withdraw more than 60 days before the examination will be subject to a penalty of $500
Candidates who withdraw within 30 to 60 days of the examination will be subject to a penalty of one half of the exam fee
Candidates who withdraw fewer than 30 days before the examination will not receive a refund
Please email [email protected] to request a refund.
What time does my examination start?Your examination time will be communicated to you approximately four weeks before the examination. Please note that all examination times are given in Eastern Time (ET) and it is your responsibility to be aware of the equivalent local time to ensure you start at the scheduled time.
To allow time for logging in to the system and being placed in a virtual waiting room, candidates are encouraged to access the platform (Practique) approximately 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the examination.
How will you validate that I am taking the SOO examination?All candidates will be required to provide visual evidence of their identity once, at the beginning of the SOO examination. This will be facilitated by an examination proctor. Only government-issued identification that includes your picture will be accepted. Valid forms of identification are:
- A current passport
- A current driver’s licence
Am I allowed notepaper and refreshments while sitting the SOO?Notepaper and pens are not permitted, but a text input notes field is available in the examination platform (Practique). All digital notes a candidate creates will be erased automatically at the end of each station.
You may have a drink with you visible at the location of your computer, provided it is in a clear container.
Will I be able to go back to previous cases to contribute additional information to my responses when taking the SOO?A return to previous cases is not permitted. Once you finish a simulated case that encounter will be locked, and after a short break you and all other candidates will be moved automatically to the next station or case.
Will information be available to help me familiarize myself with the virtual SOO platform?Yes. The College will provide resources to familiarize candidates with the examination experience, including:
- Candidate Guide
- Instructional videos
- Sample virtual SOO encounter
- Simulated office oral overview and Q & A (webinar)
I do not have a stable Internet connection or a quiet place in my home to take the SOO examination. What are my options?The examination can be taken at any location of the candidate’s choosing—home, workplace, educational institution, hotel, etc.—where a private, comfortable, and confidential environment can be assured. Given that candidates must use their own electronic devices to participate in the examination, obtaining a reliable laptop computer is advisable to allow for location flexibility in the event that a planned or preferred site becomes unavailable.
Candidates are cautioned to ensure Internet connectivity is not compromised by institutional firewalls, such as those commonly found in academic institutions and other major public and private organizations.
Device and system requirements can be found at:
Will the SOO examination be recorded? If so, will I be allowed to access the recordings?SOO examinations will not be recorded, so none will be available for candidates or examiners to review. The responsible examiner evaluates each SOO encounter in real time and uploads the marks before each station is completed. The marks the examiner assigns to each candidate are final and not reviewable, thereby negating the need to record candidate performance.
When will I know the time at which I will be expected to log in/connect for the examination?Information regarding log-in time and credentials will be shared with each candidate two weeks before the scheduled date of their examination. To ensure proper connectivity and examination readiness, it is recommended that candidates access the system 15 minutes prior to the start of their session. All participants will be on-boarded at the same time.
Candidates can expect the following when logging in to the system
- Initial placement in a virtual waiting room (holding screen) until the scheduled start time of the examination
- An examination proctor will conduct visual identification checks once, at the start of the SOO; examiners will be able to maintain visual contact with the candidate throughout the duration of all stations
- As an enhanced security measure, proctors will be able to observe candidate sessions randomly at any or all examination stations
What will happen if I am unexpectedly delayed and do not log in to the examination at the scheduled time?The College understands that unforeseen circumstances do occur despite the best of intentions. That said, it is recommended that candidates allow sufficient time to accommodate minor delays in accessing the system. The SOO examination uses a synchronous start such that all candidates commence and rotate through each station at the same time. This configuration does not allow for late starts.
In the event that you are delayed in accessing the examination, you must call 1-800-387-6197 (choose option 1 for English or option 2 for French, then choose option 4 for examinations) and report your status. You may be permitted entry into the system and can attempt to complete the initial station using the remaining time. Additional time cannot be provided because all candidates rotate to the next station simultaneously.
If your delay in accessing the exam is significant, you must immediately report this as an examination incident and examination staff will provide direction accordingly.
- Troubleshooting on exam day (video)
What will happen if an examiner does not show up?The College understands that unforeseen circumstances do occur despite best efforts in the planning for, and participation in, virtual SOO examinations. Like candidates, examiners may be delayed in accessing the system or unable to take part in the examination entirely. To manage the risk of this occurring, the College has recruited additional, trained examiners who serve in a standby role and are prepared and available on immediate notice to fill any vacant examiner positions. This ensures that the examination can be completed as scheduled.
Are washroom or other breaks allowed during the examination? How much time is there between each case, and am I allowed to leave the room?You are strongly encouraged to use the washroom before the start of your exam. Once logged in to the exam, you must remain visible at all times. Should you still need to use the washroom during the examination, you may do so during the short waiting time between SOO cases, once you have notified the examiner. These waiting times are approximately 10 minutes long. The examination timer will not stop during these breaks, and your next encounter will start immediately afterward.
The entire examination will run for approximately 2.5 hours.
Will the examination include a proctor?As an enhanced security measure, virtual proctors will have the ability to observe candidate sessions randomly throughout the duration of the examination. Candidates will not be able to see or hear proctors, so there will be no disruption to any session.
Will I know my examiner? Will the examiner know me?The College completes comprehensive checks regarding examiner-candidate pairings to ensure no genuine conflicts of interest exist and that the examination can be conducted without any relationship bias. Simply knowing each other, personally or professionally, is not considered a conflict of interest. In the event a candidate is unknowingly assigned an examiner with whom they have a close personal relationship, they should immediately declare that status to the examiner who will provide guidance regarding next steps.
What equipment do I need?To sit the examination you must have a laptop or desktop computer that is equipped with a built-in webcam, speakers and microphone. You must also have a reliable Internet connection. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are not suitable for this examination.
Multiple screens are not permitted.
Your fully charged mobile phone must be kept outside the room. It is advisable to disable notification alerts to avoid any unwanted distractions during the exam. The phone is to be used for technical support purposes only.
What software program is used to run the online SOO examination?We have partnered with a reputable, international software company to facilitate the administration of the SOO using a web-based platform called Practique. The vendor (Fry-IT) offers a robust examination management application with proven success in Canada and abroad. The software allows audio and visual interaction between candidates and examiners and the use of other examination materials to assist with the oral simulation of clinical cases. The application also allows for the use of proctors to facilitate examination security.
What are the technical requirements for taking the virtual SOO?The following technical requirements are necessary to ensure full functionality of the examination management application (Practique) and facilitate an optimal candidate experience:
- Web browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) with popups enabled
- Sufficient hard drive storage space, minimum 20GB free space on PC/laptop
- 8GB of memory is recommended, but 4GB is minimum
- Operating system: Windows 7 for PC and 10.12 for macOS. Linux does not meet requirements
- Your internet speed must be 0.5 Mbps upload and 1.6 Mbps download
What if my Internet connection drops during the examination?If your connection drops momentarily you will be reconnected and will be able to resume your exam. Immediate technical support, if required, is available and advice on steps to improve your connection can be obtained. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that your Internet connection is reliable enough for you to complete the examination. If in doubt, you should take steps ahead of the exam to improve your connection or arrange to sit the exam in a location with a more reliable Internet connection.
What do I do if I have technical difficulties?If you encounter technical difficulties accessing the examination management application (Practique), there are a few simple troubleshooting suggestions you can try to establish a connection:
- Refresh your browser
- Disconnect and reconnect the WiFi on your computer
- Reboot the router
- Phone: 1-800-387-6197 (choose option 1 for English or option 2 for French, then choose option 4 for examinations)
- Chat: within examination management application (Practique)
If there is a major technical issue on the day of the exam, will I be able to take the examination again for free? If so, when?The College has created detailed incident management guidelines and will apply these fairly to all candidates. We will do all we can to support you in completing your exam.
Candidates are responsible for ensuring they have a good Internet connection and adequate equipment to take the exam. You can find more details on this in our technical guidelines:
Will marks or the passing grade be calculated differently for the SOO now that the examination is being conducted online?All marks will be calculated using the same methods as in previous examinations. The only thing that has changed is the delivery process.
How will you ensure that all candidates are assessed in the same way?The College has maintained the design and format of the SOO examination and the methods of assessment remain the same—only the way it is being delivered has changed. Please familiarize yourself with the following sections of the CFPC website to find out more about the SOO examination:
Will the online administration of the SOO examination affect how long it takes for results to become available?We do not anticipate any change to the time frame for the notification of standing to candidates (approximately eight weeks after the examination date).
However, if there is a need to undertake any investigation associated with candidate or technical issues, the College may decide to withhold results until the investigation is complete.