Final FRCA Written examination

About the Written

The Final FRCA Written examination assesses factual knowledge and the ability to make judgements and prioritise information. It forms a gateway to the Final FRCA SOE, which assesses application of this knowledge. 

The Final FRCA written examination is delivered online with remote invigilation by our supplier, TestReach. Please refer to our detailed guidance on sitting your examination online.

The exam is mapped to the intermediate level of the UK anaesthetic training curriculum and informed by important developments in anaesthesia. It is approved by the General Medical Council for meeting the required standards of assessment for this level of training.

This exam has two parts, which are sat on different days - the Final FRCA Constructed Response Question (CRQ) examination and the Final FRCA Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination.

Structure of the Final Written examination

The Final FRCA CRQ 

A three hour examination with a structured format in which candidates provide a written response to 12 constructed response questions.

The CRQ examination assesses the mandatory areas of the UK training curriculum. These areas may appear as stand-alone questions or as part of a question, for example pain management within a perioperative case.

In addition to specific knowledge-based competences, examination material may be developed from guidance or recommendations published by healthcare organisations such as the RCoA, AAGBI, NCEPOD, NICE, SIGN, NPSA, CEMACH. 

CRQ questions are designed to assess a candidate's ability to think critically and prioritise information. This is assessed in the way the questions are answered and marked.

Candidates must attempt all 12 questions. 

  • Candidates should take care in the way they answer the questions. Marks for each question element are clearly stated and there is a line per question element in which to place your answer. For example, if a question element requires 5 answers, there will be 5 lines numbered from 1 to 5. You should write each answer on each line. If you need to change an answer, clearly cross it out and write the new answer on the same line. 
  • Candidates should read the question instructions carefully and only give the information that is asked. For example, where a CRQ question asks for a specific number of responses e.g. 'List 4 factors contributing to X',  only the first distinct answer per line will be awarded marks. Any additional answers on that same line will not be considered.  

How it is marked   

All 12 questions must be attempted.  Each question is marked out of 20 with the pass mark for each question being determined by the examiners collectively before the examination using a modified Angoff standard setting method.

Examiners mark two questions each therefore each exam paper has a total of six separate examiners marking using strict marking guides. Before the marking process begins, all examiners attend a standard setting meeting which ensures the accuracy and consistency of marking is of a high standard. The pass marks for the 12 questions are summed to give a total mark for the whole paper. 

 

The Final FRCA MCQ

The format of this examination changes in September 2023. 

From September 2023, the Final FRCA MCQ exam will comprise 90 Single Best Answer (SBA) questions in three hours.  

The whole syllabus is tested in the Final FRCA. Those parts tested by the MCQ are detailed in the document entitled 'CCT in Anaesthetics, Annex C, Intermediate Level Training'. Relevant key capabilities from the 2021 curriculum will also be referenced.  The SBA questions will broadly, but not exclusively, comprise: 

  • 45 questions in general anaesthesia
  • 10 questions in perioperative medicine
  • 10 questions in regional anaesthesia
  • 25 questions in other curriculum domains

Each section can include questions related to applied basic sciences.

Each SBA question has a stem or vignette, a lead in question and five plausible options.  Candidates must decide which of the five options is the best answer.

Candidates are reminded that MCQ questions may be selected from any of the curriculum codes highlighted as being tested in the Final MCQ. Candidates should refer to the 'Blueprint of the Final FRCA examination within the document 'CCT in Anaesthetics, Annex C, Intermediate Level Training'. for more information.

How it is marked   

One mark will be awarded for each correct answer with a maximum mark obtainable of 90 marks.  Negative marking is not used. 

The pass mark is provisionally set by examiners using a modified Angoff method. The core group reserve the right to remove questions from the overall marks where error or ambiguity is found. Candidates will not be disadvantaged where this occurs.

A quick eligibility check is set out below. You must:

Final Written - maximum six attempts - valid  for three years
Registered with the GMC (UK)  AND
Either:
  • currently registered as a UK trainee in Anaesthesia, or registered as a trainee in Anaesthesia with the College of Anaesthetists, Ireland, OR
  • currently sponsored under the RCoA IP MTI scheme and employed as an anaesthetist in an NHS post for six months, NHS appraisal required OR
  • currently registered with the their respective College and is a former UK trainee UK or Ireland and left training no more than five years. OR Specialty/SAS grade who left training more than five years and has RA support. OR
  • currently registered with the College; is a former trainee (more than five years) or a non-UK anaesthetic trainee who has been employed in the UK NHS as an anaesthetists for at least 12 months immediately preceding the exam date applied for. NHS appraisal required. AND

To be eligible to sit the Final FRCA, candidates no longer need to be in receipt of the UK Core Level Training Certificate (CLTC) or Stage 1 certificate. Candidates must have passed the Primary FRCA examination, exempting qualification or NHS appraisal for non-UK trainee or sponsored under MTI.  AND

Has not exceeded the number of attempts allowed (six) If failed at the fifth attempt must have submitted an Additional Educational Training form (AET1) at least three months before the exam applied for.  Paragraph 8, Appendix 8 of the Examination Regulations refers.

The full eligibility for this exam is listed at Section 7 Paragraph 17 of the Examination Regulations.

Final Written Examinations Calendar; 2023 - 2024

Application opening date

Monday, 27 November 2023

Monday, 3 June 2024

Application closing date

Monday, 8 January 2024

Monday, 15 July 2024

Examination date

Tuesday,
27 February 2024 -
CRQ

then

Thursday 29 February 2024 - 
MCQ

Tuesday,
10 September 2024-
CRQ

then

Friday 13 september 2024 - 
MCQ

Examination fees

£570

£590

 

APPLY NOW

The online application process will be open for each exam from 0900 on the exam opening date to 1700 on the exam closing date (see dates and fees in the section above).  Applications are not accepted outside the application window.

Reasonable adjustments: Any applicant who has a physical or mental disability, specific learning difficulty (SpLD) or on-going or fluctuating medical condition may be entitled to reasonable adjustments. To apply for reasonable adjustments, please complete the relevant section on the online examination application form. Applicants requiring reasonable adjustments should book as early as possible to ensure that there is sufficient time to put in place any specific requirements.  For more information on reasonable adjustments, please refer to the Examination Regulations.

Withdrawals: If withdrawing an application for admission to an examination before the closing date for applications, you may receive back the full amount of the fee paid, providing the withdrawal request is within 14 days of booking the exam.

If greater than 14 days or after the booking window has closed, the refund is subject to an administration fee (the 14-day rule). 

If withdrawing in any other circumstances within 7 working days of an exam date, including non-issue of entry visas (with the exception of those described in Section 9, Special Arrangements), you will not be entitled to any refund of fee. This rule also applies to candidates who do not appear for an exam on the exam day.

Fees cannot be deferred from one exam to another and candidates must prove their eligibility for each exam sitting they apply for.

Tax deductibility.  The College and faculties are aware that trainees who sit examinations as part of a training programme can claim tax relief on their exam fees. Whilst in a training programme trainees can also claim tax relief on membership fees.  Please visit HMRC for further information on how to claim. 

Results from the February 2024 Final written exam will be released by email by 5pm on Thursday 18 April 2024. 

No results will be given or confirmed by telephone.

All candidates who pass or fail FRCA exams will receive the same feedback, which will be sent out with  the result letters.
A full list of the type of feedback provided for each exam component is set out in the Primary and Final FRCA examinations regulations - appendix 9 - feedback policy.

Candidates sitting the Final FRCA Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) exams are provided with a comprehensive breakdown of their question performance against the areas of the curriculum tested in the exam. This allows trainees and trainers to identify shortfalls of knowledge in the relevant areas of the syllabus, so that focussed preparation can be put in place prior to the next attempt. Where a pass result is achieved, it will provide trainees with important information on which to base further continuing professional development. 

Around 14 days after the publication of the pass/fail list, the chair of the CRQ exam will release a comprehensive report summarising question performance and areas of the exam not answered well by candidates.

A candidate who has failed any of the following examination components more than once may request a guidance interview. Guidance is limited to one interview per examination component:

  • Final CRQ
  • Final SOE

Guidance is not provided for the Final MCQ. Candidates seeking advice on the MCQ component should contact their college tutor.

Candidates are not required to attend guidance interviews up to the fifth attempt for each examination component but at the sixth attempt, guidance interviews are mandatory. 

Please note that no special consideration will be given in respect of refunds following guidance interviews.

Interviews are usually arranged locally but where this is not possible or if local trainers and examiners are not available, interviews can be arranged at the College.  To arrange a guidance interview, please contact the examinations department exams@rcoa.ac.uk  

The MCQ paper

SBAs are used in UK undergraduate and postgraduate medical assessments, and are widely used by medical colleges, faculties and the GMC. Over the last 3 years, the MCQ examination has been  increasing the number of Single Best Answer (SBA) questions, whilst reducing the number of Multiple True False (MTF) questions. This change does not affect the exam blueprint for the MCQ and the College will continue to test the same areas of the curriculum across the exam overall.

From September 2023, papers will no longer contain MTF questions. The paper will comprise at least 90 Single Best Answer questions to be answered in 3 hours.

With the release of the examination reviews, further changes in line with the recommendations in these reports are anticipated. More information on these changes will be available from February 2023.