The Definitive Guide To The Canadian Family Medicine / CCFP Examination
The Certification Examination in Family Medicine is the final step before you obtain your CCFP designation (Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada - CCFP) and it is run each year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), usually in the spring and the fall.
It consists of an oral component (Virtual SOOs - Simulated Oral Office Exams) and a written component (SAMPs - Short Answer Management Problems). The SOOs are written from home using the exam software Practique. Candidates are given the choice to write the SAMPs either from home using the exam software ProProctor or at a Prometric testing site.
In this guide, you'll find the following topics. Read straight through, or use the links below to jump to the section that interests you:
What Is On The CCFP Exam?
The exam can be broken up into 2 distinct parts, the oral and the written components.
First Component - Written SAMPs
The written examination is the SAMPs (Short Answer Management Problems) which are created to test your ability to recall factual knowledge and to test your problem solving ability in terms of health problems, their management, and critical appraisal.
The test is designed to assess the full breadth of practice which includes care in the “office, hospital or home as well as a variety of other settings for patients of all age groups." The exam includes questions on patients of any gender. The exam is available in both English and French. If you write in French, you can no longer switch to English during the exam even though this option was offered in previous years.
Second Component - Virtual SOOs
The second component of the exam is the Virtual SOOs which are made to duplicate the office setting where a family physician conducts their routine practice. Even though the exam is delivered virtually, candidates are told to act as if they are in the same room as the patient - it is a test of medical care, not virtual care. The patients are actors (real family physicians) who are given a script to memorize with specific presenting complaints and they are the markers of the Virtual SOO as well. The Virtual SOOs assess both the definition and management of health problems and the scoring focuses on the candidates approach to dealing with the patient, ability to understand the unique experience of the patient, and the establishment of the doctor-patient relationship. The correct diagnosis, while important, plays only a small part in your overall score.
The SOO is a very unique exam, like no OSCE or medical exam you have done before. The only way to truly understand it is to see old scripts and to conduct practice exams with a friend. Examples of SOO scripts and videos are available on the CFPC website - see the Exam Essentials page for the link. You can find a study buddy when you come to The Review Course, or on our CCFP Exam Facebook Group.
Essential bonus prep resources
See our free CCFP Exam Essentials resource
How Long Is The CCFP Exam?
The SAMPs are 4.5 hours in duration, and the SOO consists of five, 15-minute stations. More details about the specific sections are below.
How Long Is The SAMP Exam?
You are allocated 4.5 hours for the written part of the examination, which is often held midweek (e.g. Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday). The total 4.5 hours includes 4 hours for the actual test and 15 minutes for tutorials on the software, non-disclosure etc. and then 15 minutes for you to take any unscheduled breaks (bathroom etc.). You will not be given extra time for accommodation purposes (e.g. disability, breast milk pumping, medication administration) unless you specifically request this with supporting documentation at the time of registration for the exam.
How many questions are on the SAMPs?
Though most SAMP exams include approximately 40 questions, the number questions under each stem varies, and the CFPC does not state a standard number of questions for the examination.
How Long Is The SOO Exam?
The oral components (SOOs) are often done on Saturday or Sunday and consist of five, 15-minute simulated office oral exams (SOOs). These have traditionally been done at a testing site and it is recommended that you plan for 3 hours at the testing site.
What Is The CCFP Exam Pass Rate?
While the CFPC does not release the pass rate and breakdown of the exam results. Some studies have been done comparing Family Medicine Residents writing the examination and International Medical Graduates writing the examination in Ontario and Quebec. The overall pass rate for Canadian Residency Graduates is approximately 90% and for International Medical Graduates it ranges between 65-75% annually. These data can be found in studies like those published in CMAJ (2017) and CFP 2014 and CFP (2010).
When Should I Take The CCFP Exam?
The examination is traditionally available in the Spring and the Fall, so twice a year. In general, those in a residency training program will write the examination in the Spring. Remember to check the deadlines for applying to write the examination as they are months in advance and different for residency trained applicants and those that are challenging the examination through the practice eligible route.
There is no good answer as to when you should write the examination. Pass rates for residents and International Medical Graduates do not widely differ between the two exam settings so it’s important to decide when is best for you and your study schedule.
How Do I Pass The CCFP Exam?
The people who scored top marks on the CCFP exam have told us their study methods, so be sure to review those. Each SAMP and SOO have a minimum passing mark that must be met to pass the exam. To hit this passing mark review our study guide below. The CFPC calculates this mark based on the performance of a "reference group." This group consists of Canadian family medicine residency program graduates who are writing the exam for the first time. The CFPC does not release what percentile this passing mark is, or what constitues a passing mark for the SAMPs, or the marking schemes for the SOOs. However, old CCFP SAMP and SOO questions can be found on our Exam Essentials page, and these will give you a general idea of how the exam is marked.
How Do I Study For The CCFP Exam?
The best place to start is with yourself. What is the best way you learn and retain information for a test that is both written & oral AND that contains such a wide breadth of information?
A great place to start is our Exam Essentials page, which includes all the must-know information. From there, be sure to look at our Resources page, where we have compiled peer-reviewed ratings for all of the free and paid resources available to study from for the examination.
Starting early is another great way to break up the large volume of information and updated guidelines you need to know for the exam. Attending The Review Course is a fantastic way to review all 105 topics for the CCFP exam in a single weekend, plus get access to hundreds of peer-reviewed practice exam questions. Signing up to CFP: Distilled, monthly summaries of the need to know clinical information from the CFP journal, is a great place to start. Take 15 minutes a month to review the archived blog posts on our website as well.
Ensure that you review the sample SAMPs on the CFPC website EARLY in your study plan. They are a different style of question and knowing the architecture of the questions will make your studying more efficient. An excellent way to start studying early is to sit down and attempt one of the national practice SAMP exams that have been produced by recent Family Medicine graduates who are now faculty at The Review Course in Family Medicine"
CCFP Exam Guidelines & Helpful Links
Check out CCFP Exam Guidelines page to view our list of select guidelines and helpful links. As well, make sure you know the essentials by reviewing our Exam Essentials page.