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 mapped to the intermediate level of the UK anaesthetic training curriculum. It is approved by the General Medical Council for meeting the required standards of assessment for this level of training and is informed by important developments in anaesthesia. It has two parts, which are sat on the same day - the Final FRCA Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination and the Final FRCA Constructed Response Question (CRQ) examination.

Structure of the Final Written examination

The Final FRCA MCQ

This is a three hour examination with two question types, Multiple True False (MTF) and Single Best Answer (SBA). Candidates answer 90 questions in total, 60 MTF and 30 SBA.    

Each MTF question has a question stem and five options. Candidates must decide which of these options are true and which are false.

The MTF questions comprise:

  • 20 questions on advanced sciences to underpin anaesthetic practise
  • 20 from the essential units on general duties
  • 17 from the essential units on specialist topics  
  • 3 from the optional units.

SBA questions contains 1 correct answer and 4 options. Each correct answer is worth 4 marks.

The 30 SBA questions are divided into:  

  • 15 questions on general duties from the essential units
  • 15 specialist taken from both essential and optional units.

This format will continue to be used for the exam on the 10 March 2020 but from September 2020 the format will change. In September 2020, papers will contain 45 MTF and 45 SBA questions (a 50/50 split), from March 2020, papers will comprise 30 MTF and 60 SBA questions and a 100% SBA question paper will run from September 2023. For more information on this change, please go to 'planned changes to the examination' .

The Final FRCA CRQ 

A three hour examination 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. 

Candidates must attempt all 12 questions. If one or more questions is not attempted, a candidate will fail.

Changes to the CRQ paper. The March 2020 paper will contain only CRQ format questions. These 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 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.  For more information on this change, please go to 'planned changes to the examination' .

How it is marked 

The Final FRCA MCQ has a maximum of 420 marks available. 1 mark is awarded for each correct option in the MTF, with a total of 5 marks per MTF question, and each SBA question is worth 4 marks. In the Final FRCA CRQ, each question carries 20 marks, with a total of 240 marks available overall. 

The pass mark is set using an Angoff reference method. Each candidate's total score is the sum of the percentage pass marks on the MCQ and CRQ papers. 

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 imediately preceeding the exam date applied for. NHS appraisal required. AND
Have passed the Primary FRCA examination  or exemption qualification within last seven years  AND

Have been awarded the Core Level Training Certificate 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 rf 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 – August 2019 to July 2020

Application opening date

Monday, 17 June 2019

Monday, 28 October 2019

Application closing date

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Tuesday , 14 January 2020

Examination date

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Examination fees

£490

£490

 

Final Written Examinations Calendar – August 2020 to July 2021

Application opening date

Monday, 8 June 2020

Monday, 19 October 2020

Application closing date

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Thursday , 14 January 2021

Examination date

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Examination fees

TBC

 

TBC

Apply and pay online.                                                                                                                 

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.

The Final FRCA Written is held at seven national exam centres; Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Sheffield.  Candidates should select their preferred centre on application.  

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. When applying online, check the ‘I have a disability’ and ‘I require exam adjustment’ boxes . For more information on reasonable adjustments, please refer to the Examination Regulations.

Withdrawals: withdrawals before the closing date may receive the full fee paid. Candidates withdrawing after the closing date may be entitled to a full refund, providing the request is made within 14 days of receipt of the application. For withdrawals greater than 14 days, the refund is subject to an admin fee.  Fees cannot be deferred from one exam to another.

The result date for the Final FRCA Written is on the admission notice. 

Results are published in the form of a pass/fail list. Candidates will be identified using a three figure candidate number. This is an exam specific number issued to candidates on their admission notice.  Please do not call the College to confirm your candidate number. 

Candidates can choose to opt out of the pass/fail list by contacting the exams department exams@rcoa.ac.uk at least 48 hours before the release of results date.                                   

All candidates will be sent a breakdown of their results within seven working days after the pass/fail list has been published. 

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 set out on their 'results letter' this is despatched to all candidates using first class post within seven working days of the release of the pass/fail list.  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 indentify 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 acheived, 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.

Guidance is not provided for Primary MCQ. Candidates seeking advice on the Primary MCQ 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

Over the next 4 years, the MCQ examination will increase the number of Single Best Answer questions, whilst reducing the number of Multiple True False (MTF) questions. SBAs are used in UK undergraduate and postgraduate medical assessments, and are widely used by medical colleges, faculties and the GMC. This change will not affect the exam blueprint for the MCQ and the College will still test the same areas of the curriculum across the exam overall.

The current format will continue to be used for the exam on the 10 March 2020. From September 2020, papers will contain 45 MTF and 45 SBA questions (a 50/50 split), from March 2020, papers will comprise 30 MTF and 60 SBA questions, with a 100% SBA question paper from September 2023.

The CRQ paper

A hybrid paper of Constructed Response Questions (CRQ) and Short Answer Questions (SAQ) was used in September 2019 and a full CRQ paper will be introduced in the March 2020 exam.  Timings for the exam remain the same.

The use of CRQs provides candidates with a structured format in which to answer the 12 questions and assesses a candidates ability to think critically and prioritise information.

  • 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. 
  • The way the question is answered is reflected in the grading. For example, where a question asks for '6 elements', only the first distinct answer per line will be awarded marks. Any additional answers on that same line will be disregarded.

The examination preparation video in our resource section can continue to be used as a reference, with an updated CRQ video available in due course.

 

Candidate resources are a consolidation of the various example questions, videos, courses and guides, any of which may guide a candidate in their preparation for the various FRCA examination components.