Diploma in Geriatric Medicine

Information and FAQs for the Diploma in Geriatric Medicine (DGM) examination.

The Diploma in Geriatric Medicine (DGM) examination is designed to give recognition of competence in the provision of care of older people to general practitioner vocational trainees, clinical assistants and others working in non-consultant career posts in departments of geriatric medicine, and other doctors with interests in or responsibilities for the care of older people.

The diploma offers doctors the opportunity to review and consider all aspects of the care of older people and to be recognised as having this knowledge, which is particularly important at a time when the proportion of very elderly people in the population is rising dramatically. 

Information regarding changes to the DGM Clinical Exam

The Royal College of Physicians is introducing changes to the clinical component of the Diploma in Geriatric Medicine in November 2015.

The changes are outlined in a new guidance document for candidates. Please see the document on DGM clinical changes below for further details.

Regulations, application form and further information

Limit on attempts

All medical royal colleges and faculties are required by the General Medical Council (GMC), to introduce a limit on the number of attempts at their examinations. The GMC have specified that the maximum number of attempts allowed at each part of the examination should be six.

When did the policy come into effect?

The policy came into force from 1 January 2014. The first exam affected was the DGM Written 2014/1 examination (applications opened in February 2014); all other exams held after 1 January 2014 will be affected by this policy.

How do I get an additional attempt after having six attempts at an examination?

As a candidate you will need to:

  • discuss your past examination attempts with your educational supervisor (or equivalent), to locate areas of persistent weakness and produce and implement an educational plan designed to target these weak areas. For more information on this see our FAQs below
  • once additional educational experience has been undertaken discuss with your educational supervisor (or equivalent) when you should attempt the examination again
  • download and complete the additional attempt form available from this page
  • your educational supervisor and training programme director (or equivalents) must sign the form confirming that you have demonstrated an improvement in knowledge and skill so that a pass result is highly likely at the next attempt
  • your educational supervisor must then scan in a copy of the form and email it to dgm@rcplondon.ac.uk. Please note the form must be emailed from your educational supervisor’s email address. Please see our FAQs for more information on this
  • once the form has been received and verified by Central Office you will be granted an extra attempt at the exam. You will then be allowed to apply for the examination in the usual way.

DGM regulations and syllabus 2015

The DGM regulations, syllabus and application form for 2015 can be accessed from this page.

Candidates paying by credit or debit card can send their completed application forms to dgm@rcplondon.ac.uk. Candidates using alternative methods of payment should print their forms and send them to the address below:

DGM Examination
Exams Candidate Office
Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place
Regent's Park
London NW1 4LE

Examination results can be viewed via the DGM examination results webpage.

For further information on the DGM, please contact the dgm@rcplondon.ac.uk, clearly marking any correspondence ‘DGM’.

  • Telephone: +44 (0)20 3075 1549

DGM calendar and fees

Please be aware there are limited spaces for the Part 2 clinical examination so you should get your application in as early as possible to ensure you get a place.

Clinical information: Please keep all dates of the Clinical examinations free as no alterations can be made once you have been allocated a centre. Please bear in mind that travel to provincial centres may also be necessary.

2016 dates - Part 1 written examination

Diet: 2016/1
Application period: 29 December 2015 - 18 January 2016
Written examination fee: £231
Written examination date: 9 February 2016

Diet: 2016/1
Application period: 27 June 2016 - 15 July 2016
Written examination fee: £231
Written examination date: 9 August 2016

Candidates for the DGM Part 2 clinical examination must have previously passed the DGM written examination at an applicable sitting (please see the examination regulations below for guidance).

Part 2 clinical examination

Diet: 2015/2
Application period: 7 - 28 September 2015
Written examination fee: £339
Written examination date: 3 and 4 November 2015

Diet: 2016/1
Application period: 7- 28 March 2016
Written examination fee: £339
Written examination date: 10 and 11 May 2016

Diet: 2016/1
Application period: 5 - 26 September 2016
Written examination fee: £339
Written examination date: 1 and 2 November 2016


Candidates are not required to complete any documentation in order to receive their diploma, however, candidates are advised to inform the RCP of any changes in personal details to avoid loss or delay of the item.

Diplomas are automatically issued within 6 weeks after result release although timescales may vary.

Candidates who require a replacement diploma are advised to submit a request to the email address below. A £35 charge will apply, unless the individual is a fellow of any of the three royal colleges, in which case no charge will apply. A replacement diploma should be issued within 2 weeks of the fee being processed.

If you have any queries please contact diplomas.queries@mrcpuk.org

Candidates should receive a reply within three working days of receipt.

Please note diplomas will be retained by the RCP for one year from the date of issue, after which time they will be destroyed. Every effort will be made to contact candidates should their diploma be returned undelivered to the RCP, however, candidates are advised to contact the RCP if they are not in receipt of their diploma within one year of passing the DGM exam.

Any requests received for a re-print after one year will incur a charge of £35.

Diploma in Geriatric Medicine frequently asked questions

What is the DGM Examination?

The Diploma in Geriatric Medicine is one of two diplomas awarded by the Royal College of Physicians of London, available to all registered doctors.

Who is the examination aimed towards?

Any medical practitioner in the United Kingdom whose clinical practice brings them into contact with older people. This may include, for example general practice vocational trainees, general practitioners with particular responsibilities for older people, old-age psychiatrists, trainees in General (internal) Medicine and doctors intending to pursue specialist training in Geriatric Medicine.

Am I eligible to sit the DGM Examination?

The minimum eligibility requirement for the DGM written examination is 2 years’ post-qualifying experience prior to the date of the written examination, or candidates who have had 4 months’ experience in a geriatrics post in a hospital or in another post (eg as a GP) in which they see a lot of geriatric patients.

Candidates must pass the written examination before they sit the clinical examination. They have two years to pass the clinical examination and if they fail to do so they should sit the written examination again.

Can overseas doctors sit the examination?

If you are an overseas doctor who fulfils our entry requirements, you are welcome to sit the examination. However, you should bear in mind that the examination will be held only in the UK and that there will be questions related to health and social systems for older people in the UK, and to UK legislation relating to older people.

Where is the examination centre?

We will inform you of the details of the examination venue, approximately 2‒3 weeks before the examination date. The examination venue for the written examination will be in central London.

What does the examination comprise?

a) Part 1 Written Examination

There are 100 ‘best of five’ questions covering the published syllabus of geriatric medicine, community care of older people and problem-solving of clinical and social dilemmas. The questions are not designed to catch candidates out nor to test obscure aspects of geriatric medicine. Three hours will be allowed for the examination. For information on sample questions please refer to the PDF document below. Please note: Owing to recent changes in the examination format, there are currently no publications with past examination questions available.

b) Part 2 Clinical Examination

A four-station standardised examination similar to an Objective Standardised Clinical Examination (OSCE). Assessments include history-taking, communication skills and ethics, clinical examining skills with a selection of patients who may exhibit clinical signs or symptoms, and discussion of the diagnosis and management. 

What does the DGM examination seek to assess?

a) Part 1 Written Examination:

An understanding of medical knowledge as it relates to the physiology of ageing and the diagnosis and treatment of the older person. It includes clinical areas that are commonly seen in this speciality such as falls, incontinence, pressure ulceration and osteoporosis, as well as common problems encountered in old-age psychiatry such as depression, delirium and dementia.

b) Part 2 Clinical Examination:

  • a friendly and courteous attitude to patients
  • the taking of an adequate and appropriate history, including the social situation, involving relatives and/or carers when present
  • the clear eliciting of clinical signs, and their interpretation
  • the formulation of a problem list and differential diagnosis
  • the presentation of a management plan that takes account of the particular needs of the older person
  • familiarity with rating scales commonly used in geriatric practice in the UK.

How is the DGM examined?

The written examination is marked using an optical scanner and the process is overseen by the DGM Board.

For the clinical examination, each clinical centre has eight examiners. Candidates are assessed by different pairings of examiners across four clinical stations. Again, the process is overseen by the DGM Board.

Where are the examinations held?

The written examination is normally held in London at the Royal College of Physicians. The clinical examination is held in various clinical centres within the UK (eg Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester). There are usually two or three centres in operation at each sitting.

When will I be informed of my examination centre?

We will inform you of the details of the examination venues about 2–3 weeks before the examination date.

When will I receive my results?

Results for both the written and the clinical examination are published and posted out to candidates four weeks after the examination date.

Sample questions and reading lists

A selection of DGM sample questions and a reading list recommended by the DGM board can be accessed below.

For a further reading list or more information on the British Geriatrics Society, visit their website:

MSc in gerontology

If you hold a Diploma in Geriatric Medicine (awarded since 2003) you automatically qualify for one-third of the course credits required for MSc in gerontology at King’s College London, through our unique relationship with the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London.

The programme has been described as ‘the premier gerontology Masters degree … the gold standard to which others aspire’ by Professor Ian Philp, national director for older people’s services and neurological conditions.

For further details of the MSc programme at King’s College London, please email aciog@kcl.ac.uk.