Thank you for pointing this out! Will they ever stop tweaking? I see that FRCO score-reading is now G and F clefs but in five parts! I also see that the Certificate is being renamed 'Colleague Diploma'. Ugh!
Pieces and test have always been separate sections, both of which had to be passed, even before the exams became modular. You had to pass both the tests and the pieces, or take the whole practical exam again. Now of course you can retake one half of the exam. But the principle remains the same - you can't fail the tests and make up for it by doing brilliantly in the pieces (or vice versa). The fact that the total marks available for tests are much less than for pieces does not affect this. You can however fail one test and make up for it in the others.
It would be surprising if anyone failed an academic music degree for making a hash of keyboard skills, whereas RCO exams are essentially practical. However, Oxford and Cambridge music degrees are well-known for demanding high-level keyboard skills - not just for specialist keyboard players but for all students. That said, I would be surprised if they were up to FRCO standard. There must be someone on this forum with personal knowledge.
With regard to Wolsey's comments: although the RCO exams have been tweaked about every ten years for as long as I can remember, I would suggest that the overall level of difficulty in keyboard skills has remained pretty much constant in both diplomas.
Widening the discussion slightly, it is sometimes suggested that RCO keyboard skills are out of date or irrelevant. I think this is quite wrong, with the possible exception of FRCO score reading which requires playing from three different C clefs, rarely found these days apart from the Bach Gesellschaft. (Orchestral score-reading as mentioned by Wolsey might actually be more useful).
Even as an ordinary parish organist, directing my choir from the piano or organ both in rehearsal and in services, I use all the skills every week. But I also see keyboard skills in general as rather like having to reverse around a corner to demonstrate your driving skills. Although you don't often need to do it, it shows that you have complete control of the vehicle.
At St David's Cathedral in the 70s there was a 'do not disturb the driver whilst the vehicle is in motion' sign. I'm fairly sure it was a genuine sign removed (or salvaged) from a public bus. I'd love to know if it's still there. Perhaps someone knows.