Is this exam open to doctors who have never held an approved training programme in the UK?
Yes from September 2011 the College will accept non-UK trainee applicants. see examination changes. Non-UK trainee applicants who do not qualify for a College membership category must submit a Temporary Examinations Eligibility form three months before any examinations applied for.

Are ACCS trainees eligible?
Yes. All ACCS trainees are eligible. You do not need to have chosen anaesthesia as your specialty for this exam.

Are Foundation trainees eligible?
Yes. Foundation trainees currently attending a UK Medical FP are eligible to apply for this exam in order to provide further opportunity to build on experience gained in an anaesthetic placement.

Are ICM trainees on Single or Dual programmes eligible?

Yes.  ICM trainees currently on single or dual ICM training programmes are eligible to apply for this exam, in order to assist in the progress of their route down the dual anaesthetic programme.  ICM trainees must be registered with the FICM.

Do I need to have been in a training programme for a certain length of time?
No. There is no criterion for the amount of time you have been in a training programme.

I am no longer in a training post – can I still take the examination?
Yes, providing you are registered with the College in a listed membership category (not affiliated) or registered through Temporary Examination Eligibility.

What competency based certificates do I require?
There are no competency based certificates required for this exam.

Do I need to be registered with the College?
All anaesthetic trainees and former trainees must be registered with the College. ACCS trainees and Foundation Trainees do not need to be registered with the College for the purpose of this exam. ICM trainees should be registered with the FICM. Irish trainees must be registered with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. As mentioned above, non-UK trainee applicants applying for exams from September 2011 onwards and who do not qualify for any of the College membership categories must complete a Temporary Examinations Eligibility (TEE) form three months before any examination applied for. Further details and TEE forms are available here.

Are there any limits on the number of attempts?
The number of attempts are limited to six.  An AET FORM 1 will need to be submitted at least three months before applying at the final (sixth) attempt.

How long is a pass in the Primary MCQ valid for?
A pass is valid for THREE years.


Where can I find the application windows and exam dates for the Primary MCQ exams?
Dates of all FRCA examinations, including opening and closing dates for applications, can be found on the appropriate examinations calendar.

If I miss the closing date is there any system for submitting a late application?
No. The closing date is final. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the application is delivered. For this reason we advocate that applicants allow sufficient time for delivery and if an acknowledgement is not received to check whether delivery has taken place.

If I get my application to the College by 5.00 pm on the closing date am I guaranteed a place on the exam?
No. An application means the submission of a correctly completed application form with the correct fee attached. Therefore, if the application form is incomplete or incorrect or there is a problem with the clearance of the fee, which cannot be resolved by 5pm on the closing date, then the application will be rejected.

Where do I get an application form?
Applications are available to download here.

The next attempt will be my sixth attempt.  Where do I get an AET FORM1 from?

The AET FORM1 can be found at Appendix 8 of the Primary and Final FRCA Examinations Regulations.  A word version of the form can be found on the Examinations Regulations page of the College website, related downloads.

Does my College Tutor or Supervising Consultant need to sign the application form?
No.  From June 2013 the applications forms changed and there is no longer a requirement for CTs or supervising consultants to sign the exam application form.  However, applicants should discuss their application and readiness to sit the exam with their College Tutor or Supervisng Consultant.

I am in an approved training post, what documents do I need to include with my application?
No documents are required to be included with the Primary MCQ application form from those in approved training programmes in Anes/ACCS/Foundation Training or sponsored under IP. Please ensure you have completed the form correctly and completely and attached a cheque for the appropriate amount.

I am NOT in an approved training post what documents do I need to include with my application?

  • A certified photocopy of your current or previous registration with the GMC or National Medical Council (not applicable to TEE applicants as this is proved on TEE application).
  • Proof of being in a current approved training post (Irish trainees only).

I have already sent the documents requested in a previous application. Do I have to supply them again?
Yes. Your circumstances may have changed since the last time you applied and the College does not have sufficient storage to retain every document submitted. Therefore, to ensure that we have the most up to date information and timely processing of applications, applicants are required to submit all documents requested with each application.

How will I know that you have received my application?
On receipt of your application we will normally send an ‘acknowledgement’ using the email address on your application form. If you have not received an acknowledgement within two weeks of dispatching your form, then you should contact the examinations department. Receipt of an acknowledgement email does not necessarily mean that you have been entered into the exam. If there is a problem with your form or fee then you will be contacted by us and will not be entered into the exam until the problem has been resolved.

What are the fees for the current academic year?
You can find the current fees on the relevant examinations calendar.

How do I pay?
Payment should be made by cheque or postal order and made payable to The Royal College of Anaesthetists. Applicants should ensure they have sufficient funds to meet the fee, if a cheque does not clear then the application will be rejected. The College does not accept payment by credit card or bank transfer for examinations.

Exam Centres and Day Preference

Can I sit this exam or any FRCA exam overseas?
No. The FRCA examinations are primarily to support the UK training programmes for anaesthetists, therefore there is no requirement to hold examinations outside the UK.

Where can I sit this exam?
The Primary MCQ is held simultaneously in London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield and Edinburgh. The exam runs from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm with candidate briefing at 1.45 pm. Your preference must be entered on your application form. The College is restricted by the spaces available at each centre. Therefore early application will give the best chance of being allocated your preference.

My circumstances have changed since applying. Can I change centres?
Yes, up to one week before the exam date, providing there is availability at the centre you wish to move to. At one week before the exam the figures for each centre are set and the College is unable to move candidates from one centre to another. Requests to change centres must be made by email.

Disability and Pregnancy

Are there any regulations for accommodating disabilities?
Yes. The College has set guidelines for Dyslexic candidates which are set out at Appendix 3 of the current Primary and Final FRCA Examinations Regulations. All other requests for special consideration for dealing with disabilities will be considered on an individual basis. For instance, if you are concerned that you will not be able to sit comfortably for the duration of the exam, because you suffer from back pain, then you should contact the Examinations Department so that special arrangements can be considered.

I am expecting a baby around the exam date should I inform the College?
Yes. Prospective candidates should notify the Examinations Department as soon as possible of the fact of their pregnancy and the expected week of confinement. Such details should, where possible, be attached to your application form. Full details are set out in the Primary and Final FRCA Examinations Regulations.


If I withdraw from an examination are the fees refunded?
If you withdraw from the examination before the closing date, you are entitled to a refund of the examination fee less an administrative charge. If you withdraw from the examination after the closing date, you are not entitled to any refund although a discretionary exception may be made in cases of personal illness, bereavement etc. You should write to the Examinations Manager if you fall into this category and you will require a supporting letter from your CT. Success in examinations of a sister College will not attract a refund of the fee.

I want to withdraw, what do I do?
You should contact the College exams department immediately. Firstly by phone then follow up in writing either by letter or email. You should keep your College Tutor informed of your decision and reasons for withdrawing.

Can I transfer my fee or defer to the next examination?
No. Each examination is managed and accounted for separately and will follow the regulations in force on the opening date. Therefore the College cannot defer applications or hold fees from other exams.

Does withdrawing from an examination count as an attempt?
No an attempt is where a candidate enters the examination building and commences documentation. Withdrawal or full absence will not count as an attempt.

Are there any waiting lists for this exam?
No. For this exam, all eligible candidates are booked on to the examination on receipt of a correctly completed application form and fee.

I have received an acknowledgement. Should I phone to check I have been accepted for the exam?
No. The College will book you onto the MCQ examination automatically as soon as your application details and fee have been verified. If there is a problem with your form or examination fee then we will contact you to resolve any issues. Please note that if issues cannot be resolved before the closing date then applications will be returned.

Before the Exam

Does the College provide reading lists or recommended books for the examinations?
No. We recommend that candidates discuss their reading with their College Tutor.

Where can I find examples of FRCA MCQ questions?

The Guide to the FRCA Examination: The Primary has examples of questions.  You can order a copy via this link by completing and returning the order form or contacting the Finance Department directly.  The RCoA works in partnership with e-LA to provide MCQ questions which are an accurate reflection of the scope and standard included in the FRCA examinations.  MCQ sessions are readily available.  Please see preparing for examinations on the outline page.

When will the admission documents be sent out?
Within seven working days of the closing date.

What identification will I need to take to the examination?
This should be in the form of a passport or photo driving licence. Hospital ID is not acceptable. Where the name on the photographic identity being used is not identical to that given on your application form, due to marriage etc, then the original marriage certificate or solicitor’s letter, as appropriate, must also be produced. The College should be informed in advance of attendance where this is the case (020 7092 1521).

After the Exam

When and where will the results be published?
We aim to publish results within seven working days of the Primary MCQ exam the exact date will be given to you during the examination brief. We will place a pass list on the Results page of the website. This list will be in the form of Candidate Number and College Reference Number only, no names will be used. If for any reason you do not wish your numbers to be published on the website then you should let the College know before the examination takes place.

If I pass this exam when can I apply for the Primary OSCE/SOE?
Firstly, you should note that the MCQ and the OSCE/SOE exams are completely separate, and each part stands alone, they are not designed to run alongside each other. Providing opening and closing dates allow, you can attempt the next scheduled OSCE/SOE exam, as long as you have your Initial Assessment of Competency in Anaesthesia (or Irish equivalent). If you are an ACCS trainee then you must have been allocated to anaesthesia as your specialty.

Feedback, Recalculations, Reviews and Appeals

If I fail this exam can I get a further breakdown than the one supplied in my results letter?
No. The breakdown given in your results letter gives all the information available. It lists the number of correct and incorrect responses you made; your overall score and your score for each section. It will also give the agreed bandings for the exam you sat including the overall mean.

I want to make a representation/appeal with regard to the conduct of the examination. How can I do this?
The College is committed to maintaining the highest possible standards for its examinations. If you feel dissatisfied with any part of the examination process then we would like to know, so that we can review the situation and make changes where necessary. To ensure that requests for reviews or appeals are dealt with formally and consistently, you must follow the format set out in the College Representations, Reviews and Appeals Regulations.

Changes to the MCQ Exam

I am intending to apply for this exam at a later date. Are there any expected changes to the present FRCA Primary MCQ format and regulations?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

From August 2014 the number of attempts will change from five to six.  Evidence of additional educationa experience/training will need to be supplied three months in advance of the final attempt.

I have sat the Primary MCQ before have there been any recent changes to the present exam?
Yes. With effect from September 2012 the College accepted applications from ICM trainees. With effect from September 2011 the College accepted applications for the Primary exam from non-UK applicants. 

Also, from September 2011, the format of the MCQ changed from 90 x MTF to 60 x MTF and 30 X SBA, please see the exam changes page for further details. In January 2008 question on data interpretation were removed from the OSCE and introduced into the MCQ. In September 2008 negative marking was removed. In September 2009 the number of attempts allowed changed from unlimited to five. The validity of a pass changed from three years to two years. You will no longer fail the MCQ if you perform poorly in one of the sub-sections.

Primary FRCA MCQ Links
Primary MCQ Home Page
Exam Structure
Dates Fees and Applications
Results and Statistics