FRCA Primary SOE

About the SOE

The Primary FRCA SOE is a summative assessment of a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the basic sciences, which are the foundations upon which further clinical knowledge is based. The SOE is taken along with the Primary FRCA OSCE and is aligned to the core level training curriculum.

The Primary FRCA Structured Oral Examination (SOE) and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is delivered in person at the College.  

A successful candidate in the SOE will have demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of basic sciences, clinical decision-making and the principles and safety aspects of equipment used in core level training. Candidates are required to pass both the OSCE and SOE components before they can be awarded the FRCA Primary.

The SOE complements formative and summative assessments undertaken in the workplace and provides assurance that candidates have reached the accepted national standard of knowledge and competence to allow progression to intermediate level training. 

Structure of the Primary SOE

The Primary SOE consists of two subsections:

  • 30 minutes of three questions in pharmacology, and three questions in physiology and biochemistry; followed by
  • 30 minutes of three questions on clinical topics (including a critical incident) and three questions in physics, clinical measurement, equipment and safety.

How it is marked

Two examiners mark each part of the SOE. Both examiners independently mark every question. There are 12 questions, 2 marks are given for a pass, 1 mark for a borderline performance and 0 marks for a fail, giving a maximum total score of 48 marks. 

Primary OSCE SOE – maximum six attempts – component pass valid for three years
Registered with the GMC or other National Medical Council


  • Currently registered with the College as a UK trainee in Anaesthesia or ACCS or registered with the Faculty as a trainee in ICM, OR
  • An Anaesthetist who is registered with the College in a recognised membership category (not affiliated) (see Related Information) OR
  • Has previously successfully applied for Temporary Examination Eligibility (TEE) AND
Passed the Primary FRCA MCQ in the last three years

Awarded the Initial Assessment of Competence in Anaesthesia or recognised equivalent.

Has not exceeded the maximum number of attempts for the exam applied for.  Has submitted an Additional Educational Training form (AET1) prior to the sixth attempt.

The full eligibility for this exam is listed at Section 6 Paragraph 15 of the Examination Regulations.


All FRCA examinations are conducted in English. Where a candidate’s first language is not English, the College recommends that an applicant’s communication and written skills in English are at least equivalent to the level at which a doctor could successfully pass the PLAB (Professional Linguistics Assessment Board) tests or at a level where they would expect to gain an average score of approximately 7.5/9 across all bands of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). However we do not require you to provide us with a certificate proving competency in English.


Primary OSCE/SOE Examinations Calendar; 2023-2024

Application opening date

Monday, 14 August 2023

Monday, 16 October 2023

Monday, 5 February 2024

Application closing date

Thursday, 28 September 2023

Sunday, 10 December 2023 Wednesday, 20 March 2024

Examination date
(week commencing)

Monday, 6  November 2023

Monday, 22 January 2024 Monday, 13 May 2024

Examination fees







Note that the Royal College of Anaesthetists has returned to face-to-face format for the OSCE and SOE components of the FRCA exam.  

Apply and pay online

For those candidates who were added to the examination waiting list for the Primary OSCE & SOE in May 2023, and did not secure a place or were not offered a place due to prioritisation, please refer to our email sent to you on Friday, 11 August before booking to sit the examination in November. If you did not receive an email, please call the examinations department on +44 (0)20 7092 1520.

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. Confirmation of exam bookings will be communicated with candidates once the booking window has closed.

Prioritisation: Prioritisation of Applications will be applied to examination bookings. Please read our prioritisation policy before booking your exam.   

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 November 2023 Primary OSCE/SOE exam will be released by email by 5pm on Tuesday 28 November 2023. 

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.
Full details 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.

Additionally, candidates who have been unsuccessful in their SOEs may request examiner comments on their performance.  Examiner comments are not available for the MCQ or OSCEs. Written requests should be emailed to the exams department.

Exam Guidance interviews are also available to candidates, see below.  Guidance is provided by local examiners who will recommend the action to be taken by a candidate in relation to the information provided on a candidate's performance.

There are no mandatory requirements for candidates to attend guidance interviews up to the fifth attempt for each component.  At the sixth attempt candidates must have attended a guidance interview.

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

  • Primary OSCE/SOE

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

Interviews are arranged locally wherever possible although interviews can be arranged virtually if local trainers and examiners are not available. To arrange a guidance interview, please contact the exams department.

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.