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Visual Science only (Part A)


The Visual Science Examination is frequently taken early in residency training.

The Examination is presented in a booklet and consists of 120 multiple-choice questions (MCQs).

The complete Examination takes three hours. Each question consists of four options, single best answer.

The candidates enter their answers on response sheets which are computer marked. A positive mark is awarded for each correct answer. No mark is given to those questions marked incorrectly or left blank. The results are analysed by the Examinations Committee which has members from several countries.

Answering all the questions accurately is the best way of obtaining a pass grade, but because accuracy of answers is very important and takes time, it is still possible to pass the examination without completing all the questions.

Candidates and co-ordinators are informed of the results of the individual sections into which the test is divided.

Candidates will receive free access to the Online Foundation Assessment. This can be used to help prepare for the Visual Science Examination.


  • Anatomy of the Eye, the Orbit and related structures.
  • Embryology.
  • Neuro-Anatomy.
  • Vision, Ocular Physiology, Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
  • Pharmacology.
  • Epidemiology and Statistics.
  • Genetics.
  • Pathology and Micro-biology.


As this is a secure International Exam it takes time for all the papers to be returned for scoring so the results are not produced immediately.

Results of the ICO Visual Science Examination will be mailed to candidates in June.

For candidates who enroll direct with the Examination Office, detailed results are sent by air mail to their home addresses, as given on the application forms.

For candidates who are part of a group booking from a co-ordinator the result envelopes are sent by courier in a package direct to the co-ordinator for distribution.

By order of the International Council of Ophthalmology, results from other test centres will not be released and will remain confidential.


The examinations can be taken in Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Other languages will be considered if there are sufficient numbers of candidates to justify the additional translation of the questions.


A candidate will be given a signed certificate indicating where he/she has

  • passed with Distinction
  • passed with Merit
  • passed Basic Science

Unless candidates have passed the complete Visual Science Examination (or have been granted exemption from it) they cannot normally proceed to the Clinical Ophthalmology Examination.

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