Changes to the FRCA Exams


Exam Change Date
Final Exams From 1st August 2016 the requirement to complete the Final FRCA exam in its entirety will move from the end of ST4 to the middle of ST5 (i.e. 30 months after commencing ST3) 1 April 2015
FRCA Exam From 1st April 2015 the Irish Primary/MCAI exam will no longer be accepted as an exemption  
FRCA Exam Two further changes to the Final written and SOE examinations to commence in December 2018 and September 2019. Further information can be found here.  

Changes to the Final FRCA Written and the FRCA SOE examinations

With effect from December 2018 – A number of amendments to the Final FRCA Structured Oral Examination (SOE) to be introduced:
  • Change to the SOE timetable, introduction of an extra table change, so that candidates will see six examiners instead of four. The SOE will be in two subsections:
  • SOE1 (normally AM) consisting of four clinical short cases each with linked applied clinical science questions.  The sequence will normally be clincal short case 1 followed by science question 1, clinical short case 2 followed by science question 2 and so on. However, in some instances the linked science question will be covered before the clinical short case (e.g. science question 1 followed by clinical short case 1 etc).  This SOE will be in two parts, A and B, taken consecutively, with candidates moving exam floors to sit both parts.  Each part is 26 minutes in duration, comprising of two clinical short cases with linked clinical science questions, as described above, with 13 minutes devoted to each pair of questions. Followed by:    
  • SOE2 (normally PM) consisting of a two section long case followed by two stand-alone clinical short cases taken in one sitting. This SOE is 36 minutes in duration, comprising of 10 minutes to view clinical material, 13 minutes devoted to a two section clinical long case and 13 minutes devoted to two questions on clinical anaesthesia unrelated to the clinical long case.
  • The SOE tests at least two topics from the general duties unit, at least four topics from four of the six essential units and may use up to one topic from optional units of the curriculum.
  • The marking scheme: Two examiners are present for each subsection of the SOE.  Each examiner marks every question independently.  Linked clinical short cases and science questions are marked separately. Therefore, there are 12 questions/sections, four linked short cases, four linked science questions, two sections of a long case and two stand-alone short cases. Examiners can apply a score of 0, 1 or 2 for each question/section, giving a total of 48 marks for both subsections.  The pass mark is determined using standard setting methods approved by the GMC.
  • See table on related downloads for further information.
  • Example questions in the new format are available here.
  • There is also a helpful presentation on the changes to the Final SOE available on related downloads. Trainers are free to use this to advise others of the new Final SOE structure and processes.

With effect from September 2019 – The format of Final FRCA Short Answer Question (SAQ) Examination to be changed to a Constructed Response Question (CRQ) Examination.

  • Pilot CRQ exams were run at the FRCA master courses in January and July 2018 each pilot consisted of 6 CRQ questions.  The questions used along with the answers and a Chairman's report on the mock exams are available below.
  • The first exam, which will be run in September 2019 will be a hybrid exam and will consist of 6 x CRQ questions and 6 x SAQ questions

1 August 2016

  • With effect from 1st August 2016 the requirement to complete the FInal FRCA exam in its entirety will move from the end of ST4 to the middle of ST5.

1 April 2015

  • With effect from the 1 April 2014 the Irish Primary/MCAI examinations will cease to be recognised as an exemption examination as part eligibility towards the Final FRCA exams.

1 August 2014

  • With effect from the 1 August 2014 the composition of the Final FRCA MCQ examination will change to ensure the question topics fully reflect the breadth of the relevant anaesthetic training curriculum. The question structure of the Final MCQ will remain unchanged and continue to consist of 60 x MTF and 30 x SBA.  The Primary and Final FRCA Examination Regulations August 2014, Appendix 1:  Structure of the Examinations – Final FRCA Examination – Written, will be amended accordingly, full details regarding the change to the question composition can be found on the exams news page.

1st November 2013

  • With effect from 1st August 2014 the maximum number of attempts for all Primary FRCA Examinations will be increased to six attempts.  (This will come into force for all examinations set out in the 2014 - 2015 examination calendar and until further notice).  In addition to remaining eligible for the examinations applied for, at the sixth attempt at any component of the Primary or Final FRCA, a candidate must provide evidence of additional educations experience/training.


  • Primary – the dates of the Primary MCQ and OSCE/SOE Exams have been altered to allow successful candidates at the MCQ to apply for the next sitting of the OSCE/SOE.

September 2012

  • With effect from 1 September 2012 the Final FRCA examination components will be open to any doctor practicing anaesthesia in the NHS
  • As of September 2012 Council agreed the reduction of a validity of a pass in the Primary/exemption qualifications from 10 years to seven, This reduction will bring the length of validity for all FRCA examinations in line with the maximum of seven years, recommended by the GMC and supported by the AoMRC. It is anticipated that this will affect a very small number of applicants.  Extensions to the validity of a pass may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

September 2011

  • Primary – the primary components of the FRCA will be open to any anaesthetist.  Further information is available here.
  • Primary MCQ – addition of SBA questions, reduction of MTF questions from 90 to 60.  Further information is available here.
  • Final MCQ – the number of multiple true/false questions were reduced from 90 to 60; 30 single best answer questions (SBA) were added to the paper.  Further information is available here.
  • Guidance  –  guidance is no longer mandatory.  Candidates may have one guidance interview at Primary and Final level. Refunds of upcoming exam fees will not be provided after advice at guidance.  Further information is available here.

20 May 2011

  • Validity of Primary MCQ – extended from two years to three years.  Further information is available here.

March 2011

  • Final SAQ – examiners will no longer award 10% of the marks for clarity, judgement and ability to prioritise.  Marks will no longer be deducted for serious errors.  Further information is available here.