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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the format of the examination?

There are three parts to the Standard examination - Visual Sciences, Optics, Refraction and Instruments, and Clinical Ophthalmology.

  1. FICO Advanced 115 & 180 examination
  2. Foundation Assessment
  3. ICO Exams App

Please refer to ''Types of Exams' on our website for full details.

How often do the examinations take place?

The Standard examinations are now held twice a year in April and October.

The FICO Advanced 115 & 180 examinations are now held twice a year in April and October.

The Foundation Assessments can be taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Please refer to the Dates in 'Types of Examinations' for further information.  As future dates are confirmed they will appear on the website.

Can the Visual Sciences, Optics. Refraction and Instruments, and Clinical Ophthalmology examinations be taken on the same day?

Yes, this is possible, although the ICO Examinations Committee advises against it.  Statistics show that candidates who take both exams on the same day have a lower success rate than those who take the exams in separate years.  Not all exam centers can accommodate taking more than one examination, so please contact the ICO examinations office for further information.

Where are the examinations held?

The examinations are held in the candidate's own country. Find a full list of locations at 'Find Your Exam Center' on the website.

What if my country does not have an affiliated coordinator and test center?

Please apply to the ICO Examination office stating where you would like to take the examination.  The Examination office will try to organise for a co-ordinator in your local area or as close as possible to your desired location.

What is the examination fee?

Please contact the ICO Exams office for details on fee structure.

Is financial assistance available to those who cannot afford the ICO Examinations Fee?

Bursaries are available to candidates who are unable to afford the fee. Application forms can be obtained from and submitted to the ICO Examinations office. Application for a bursary have to be authorised by a co-ordinator or tutor in his/her own country.

How can I make payment for the Examination?

Payment can be made online by either credit or debit card or you can make a payment directly into the ICO bank account.  Account information can be obtained from the ICO Examinations office.

I need to withdraw my application to take an ICO Examination, what can I do?

Candidates wishing to withdraw their ICO Examinations applications must do in writing before the closing date by which applications are due, as shown on the ICO website.  Refunds are not made to candidates who withdraw after the closing date.

Where extenuating circumstances prevent a candidtes from sitting the examination, supporting documentation must be provided stating the nature of those circumstances.

I have taken other ophthalmic examinations, is it possible to obtain a waiver for one or more parts of the ICO Examinations? 

The following are standard exemptions:

  1. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow exempt those who have passed the complete Visual Sciences Examination and the Optics, Refraction, and Instruments examination from Part 1 FRCS.
  2. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow  will exmpt those who hae passed the Clinical Ophthalmology Examination from FRCS Part 2 MCQ paper only.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh are now using the ICO examinations in replacement for their written elements.  Learn more about FRCSEd and MRCSEd here.

Are the examination papers marked by hand?

All examination answer papers are marked using an automated scanner of the answer (OMR) sheets.

Can I use a dictionary and calculator?

Candidates are able to use a dictionary and calculator in the Examination room.  No other electronic device may be used.

I need to change my test center.  What can i do?

You can change your test center up until the closing date.  Anyone wishing to change their test centre after this date should email the Examinations team.

I have misplaced my certificate.  Can I obtain another copy?

If a certificate is lost, the ICO Examinations office can issue an authorised copy.  This certificate will be embossed with the word "Copy." There will be a charge for administrative costs.

Please contact the ICO Examinations office for details.

Must I wait a certain amount of time between taking the Visual Sciences Examination and then sitting for the Clinical Ophthalmology Examination?

There is no time limit between taking the Examinations

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