Taking OSCE and SOE online - guidance

Published: 07/10/2020

Summary of changes to the delivery of FRCA OSCE and SOE

To ensure that trainees can continue to progress through training, we will be delivering the FRCA OSCE and SOE online using a platform called Practique. This platform has been developed recently to deliver clinical exams online during the pandemic using video-conferencing technology.

In this online delivery, both examiners, candidates and simulated patients will participate virtually from their home or workplace. 

You may use the online calculator in the Practique platform when taking an OSCE or SOE examination. The calculator option appears in the top menu bar once you click 'connect' to join your examiners. Click on 'calculator' and the function appears under the top menu bar.

Primary and Final SOE

There is no change to the format of the SOE, only the delivery method has changed.  In the online Primary SOE, questions have been revised so candidates do not need to draw or annotate. Instead, candidates will be shown artefacts such as graphs and asked to comment on the images to demonstrate their understanding. 

In both Primary and Final SOE note taking is permitted. A maximum of 2 sheets of A4 can be used. As the end of each examination, the examiner will check the notes taken by asking you to hold each sheet up to your webcam. The examiner will be checking that no question or part of a question has been copied. Copying examinations questions may lead to disqualification from the examination and your exam result may void. Once the examiner is satisfied that there is no evidence of misconduct, you will be asked to destroy all used note paper.

If you recognise the examiner in the Primary or Final SOE, you will not need to change examiners unless there is a close relationship (e.g. friendship, relative).


In a face-to-face delivery, the FRCA OSCE runs with 16 live stations and an additional two or three rest stations. In the online delivery, there will be 14 live stations. The duration of the assessment time within each station remains the same (5 minutes) but additional time has been included to support any potential issues with internet connection. 

Each circuit will last 2 hours 20 minutes and will comprise 14 x 10-minute stations. There are no rest stations. There will be a 5-minute comfort break in the middle.

The timing of a 10-minute station will be as follows;

  • 1-2 minutes for the examiner to connect and check your candidate number and for the candidate to read station instructions (you will do this once in your station).
  • 5 minutes for the assessment
  • 2-3 minutes additional time in case of connection issues and for preparation to move to next station.

All participants will be remote. In each station, there will be one examiner and where required, the simulated patient.  An additional auditor may be present in some stations.

The question types in the OSCE will be the same as in the face-to-face examination, with the exceptions below:

  • The Simulation and Interactive Resus stations use existing questions which have been adapted to the virtual format. These questions will now have photographs, artefacts and videos relevant to the scenario.
  • The previous Computer Based Stations have now been changed to ‘Clinical Data Stations’ and will be run by an examiner.
  • Questions where candidates were asked to ‘show’ or ‘demonstrate’ a skill have been adapted to ‘tell’ or ‘describe’.
  • The circuit still includes technical skills, equipment and anatomy stations but physical examination has been excluded from the examination.
  • Equipment will be presented as a photograph.
  • In communication questions that require a role-player, an actor will be present by video link.


Breakdown of changes to FRCA OSCE stations

An example breakdown of the 14 stations in the online delivery is shown below:

Station 1:  History 1

Station 2:  Interactive resuscitation

Station 3:  Anatomy

Station 4:  Communication

Station 5:  Anaesthetic Hazards

Station 6:  Measuring & Monitoring

Station 7:  History 2

Station 8:  Simulation

Station 9:  Clinical Data 1

Station 10: Anaesthetic equipment

Station 11: Clinical Data 2

Station 12: Anaesthetic Equipment

Station 13: Technical Skills

Station 14: Clinical Data 3