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  1. Licensing
  2. Membership & Registration
  3. Qualifications & CPD
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
  6. News
  7. About

IRSE Professional Exam - Frequently Asked Questions

When is the exam?

The Certificate is held twice a year - in March and October.  Next exam day is Saturday 23 March 2024 (booking now closed) and Saturday 5 October 2024 (bookings open May/June 2024)

Modules B to D are held once a year - in October. Next exam day is Saturday 5 October 2024 (bookings open May/June 2024)

How much is the exam?

For March 2024 the fees are:

  • For Certificate (Module A) candidates, GBP £120 per person

There are no discounts

Fees are reviewed annually  

What is the pass mark?

Information about the overall pass rate for each module is generally discussed at the Younger Members examination review meeting.

With respect to the finer details of the pass mark, the examination committee are not prepared to enter into discussions about specific mark thresholds that would lead to a particular outcome.

For all modules:

  • All results are moderated

For modules B, C and D:

  • We can confirm that each question is marked according to the marking scheme shown on the question paper. A 'critical mistake' in one part of a question would not cause a failure in itself, the 'worst case' is that it would cause that part to score zero marks.
  • It would not give rise to 'negative marks' or prevent full marks being awarded for other parts of the same question or other answered questions.
  • The examiners do spend a great deal of time to ensure that candidate’s papers are marked as favourably as is possible.
How do I apply / book to sit the exam?

Please keep an eye on the main IRSE Professional Exam webpage and our social media posts for more information about when bookings are available for the exams.

For March 2024 exam, booking is now closed and for October 2024 exam are expected to open in May and close in July.

Do you need to be an IRSE member to sit the exam?

If you want to sit the Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals (Module A), then no, you do not need to be a member of the IRSE, however you do need to be registered on the IRSE website (if you are having problems, please do not re-register, please contact who will help you).

If you want to sit any of the other Modules B, C and/or D, yes, you must be a fully paid-up member of the IRSE at any grade **

** Note that study materials for modules B, C and D are only available to IRSE members - you are therefore recommended to apply to become an IRSE member as soon as possible if you are studying for these modules as this will give you full access to study materials and not delay your exam booking

I need additional help to sit exams, can this be arranged for the IRSE exams?

Yes. Any candidate who has a diagnosed SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) condition is eligible for reasonable adjustments. To discuss this with the exam team, please email them at -  you will need to send your medical certificate to the team before any adjustments can be made

Please note that candidates must do this each time they intend to sit an exam, even if this information has been passed to the exam team in previous years

When do I need to apply to be a member? (For modules B, C & D only)

You are encouraged to join the IRSE as soon as possible to gain benefit by accessing the study guides, reduced prices on text book and advanced information of technical papers and visits.

We cannot guarantee that if you have not applied for your membership by mid February that your application will not be processed in sufficient time to enable you to apply to sit the October exam in that calendar year.

Do remember that you will need to pay your subscription fees before being able to book for the October exam(s).  

Please note that only IRSE members have access to study materials for modules B, C and D  - this access will be given when your application has been approved by Membership Committee and Council, and after you have paid your initial membership subscription

What are the rules for sitting modules B, C and D?

To sit modules B, C and/or D:

a) You must be a member of the IRSE at any grade and to have fully paid all your membership subscriptions, etc AND
b) You must have passed a previous exam module

I've already passed a previous module, what do I need to do to complete the Advanced Diploma?

Please check which module(s) you need to sit by entering which modules you have already passed into our exam checker tool at

Do I need a sponsor?

For 2024, no candidate needs to have a Sponsor.

However all exam candidates for all modules are encouraged to gain the support of their manager / colleagues whose experience and knowledge will help them prepare for the exam

I'm an IRSE Affiliate member - can I sit the exam?

Yes, members of any grade can sit any of the exam modules **

** also see FAQ about module B, C and D requirements

How many modules can I sit in one day?

For the March exams, you can only sit the Certificate (module A)

For the October exams, you can only sit EITHER the Certificate (module A) OR between one and three of the other modules (modules B, C and/or D) - subject to the other rulesets

What time is the exam?

Candidates for 2024 exams will choose their timeslot at time of booking from across a wide range of times.

Please note that all times quoted by IRSE's exam team are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and it is the candidates' responsibility to calculate their local time from the UTC time.

Where do I go to sit the exam?

In 2024, all exam modules will be sat remotely.

Candidates will need a computer or laptop with a webcam and reliable internet connection which can access the exam website and software.

Full details will be given in the exam candidate guides, see the main exam webpage.

Do I need a webcam, and why?

Yes you do need a webcam, either built-in or external.

All exam candidates will be remotely invigilated so your webcam needs to be on while you are sitting your module(s). More details about the remote invigilation software will be given to all exam candidates closer to exam day.

What do I need on exam day?

All candidates will need a computer with access to the internet, webcam and paper and pen.

Additionally, those candidates sitting modules B, C and/or D will need access to a scanner / camera to upload any handwritten / hand drawn answers.

Full details of all computer, internet and other requirements will be in the exam candidate guides, see the main exam webpage.

I can't type quickly. Can I have additional time?

No. Additional time is only allowed for those candidates who declare they have a medically diagnosed special educational needs or disability, and the IRSE team will work with them to meet their requirements.

Questions for the Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals (Module A) are multiple choice / similar requiring very little typing.

Questions for modules B, C and D are mainly essay-type questions which can be typed or hand written, although candidates are encouraged to type answers directly into the exam software, if they can, to make use of the grammar / spell checkers and to ensure that examiners can read their answers. You may also wish to hand draw sketches to supplement your answer. Time is allocated for uploading these handwritten / hand drawn sheets

My English isn't very good. Can I have additional time?

No. All modules are set in English and require answers in English.

The exam software for modules B, C and D has in-built grammar and spell checkers which will help you if you type your answers directly into the exam software.

I don't work in the UK. Will I be able to answer all the questions?

Yes. The IRSE is an international organisation and the exam reflects this in its questions.  All questions are reviewed for their relevance to our candidates.

Candidates for the Certificate (Module A) are encouraged to read and fully understand all the documents in the reading list, some of which are UK-biased.

Candidates for modules B, C and D are advised to state which principles they are referring to in their answers to ensure that the examiners mark with these in mind

When will I know the results of my module(s)?

We will endeavour to send out the results as soon as possible by email to every candidate and this will be confirmed to the candidates at time of booking.

Note that whilst marking for the Certificate (Module A) is primarily computer-marked, moderation by volunteers and reviewing the remote invigilation software outcomes need to be is done so results will not be issued immediately on completion of the exam **

Note that marking for modules B, C and D will take longer thank the Certificate as they are essay-type answers marked, checked and moderated by volunteers and the remote invigilation and anti-plagiarism software outcomes require review. The announcement of results is dependent on the numbers of candidates and the quality of their work each year **

** If there are issues raised by the remote invigilation and/or anti-plagiarism outputs, then results could be delayed while investigation takes place

When will I receive my certificate for my exam module?

Successful candidates will be informed when the certificates are due to be sent out. All certificates are sent by Royal Mail to the postal address which you have nominated as your preferred address in your records. Please check this by logging into the IRSE website, go to "My Account" (top right) and then it will open on your details page.

Successful Certificate (Module A) candidates are those who have achieved a pass, that is they have "pass", "credit" or "distinction" grades.

Successful Advanced Diploma candidates are those who have achieved a pass ("pass", "credit" or "distinction" grades) in all four compulsory modules, or an agreed combination of modules B, C and/or D and previously available modules (please see for further details).

Those who have passed a single module (B, C or D) will not be sent a certificate

I have done well in my module, will I get an award?

The Thorrowgood Scholarship is awarded to candidate(s), subject to satisfactory interview, who have excelled in all their exam modules, normally within 1 year, but examiners may look back further if candidates have not taken modules B, C and D in the same year.

The IRSE-Signet Award is awarded to the candidate who has achieved the highest mark in one of modules B, C or D.

Nominations for these awards are put to IRSE Council by Examination Committee.  If it is considered that there are no candidates who meet the Thorrowgood Scholarship criteria, then the scholarship will not be awarded that year.

What happens if I fail my module(s)?

Unfortunately some of our candidates fail their modules.  They are given a "near miss" grade if they have come just below the pass mark or a "fail" if they fall below that level.

All candidates are given brief feedback if they get a "near miss" grade - this will give a brief summary of how well you did per learning objective (Certificate candidates) or question (modules B, C and D candidates).

As detailed within the terms and conditions for candidates: Certificate candidates cannot appeal against their result  but candidates for the other modules can, see the appeals process for details

Candidates can re-sit their module(s).  There are no discounts for resits

    I have previously passed the IRSE Professional Exam. Can I have a certificate for the Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals and/or Advanced Diploma in Railway Control Engineering?

    No. Education & Professional Development Committee have agreed that only candidates who pass one or more of modules A to D are eligible for the Advanced Diploma.

    If you have any further questions, please see the exam webpages and the associated documents and then if you are still unsure, contact the exam team at