Primary and Final FRCA examinations regulations

Published: 29/07/2019

Appendix 9: Candidate Examination Feedback Policy

1. Definition of feedback

‘Specific information about the comparison between a candidate’s observed performance and a standard, given with the intention to assist with improving the candidate’s performance.’

1.1 The College believes it is important to provide feedback to candidates beyond a standard pass-fail result to assist them in understanding and interpreting their overall result. The College does not attempt to justify the overall result or the marks awarded, whether overall or for specific sections or skill domains. Marks are awarded using strict guidelines. Marks awarded by the Board of Examiners are final and therefore papers cannot be remarked.

1.2 Candidate feedback should not be confused with candidate guidance. Feedback is the provision of information relating to performance, whilst ‘guidance’ relates to the action taken in relation to certain information about performance. The rules regarding the provision of examinations guidance available to candidates are set out at Section 11, paragraph 34 of these regulations.

2. Publishing results and providing feedback

2.1  The release of results date is set out on the exam pages of the College website.  Pass-fail results cannot be provided to candidates by email or telephone.

2.2 The period between the exam date and the release of results date will vary for each exam component and depends on the standard setting and marking methods used to confirm results. 

2.3 Feedback is provided to candidates in the form of a ‘results letter’, this will be sent to the candidate within seven working days of the ‘release of results date’. See paragraph 3, regarding the type of feedback provided.

2.4 Appendix 2 of these Regulations give details on the marking systems and the methodology used to set pass standards used for FRCA examinations.

3. Type of feedback provided

3.1 The type of feedback given to candidates will vary according to the exam component attempted. However, the College has ensured that the feedback provided meets the AoRMC and GMCs standards and is in line with other medical colleges.

3.2 All candidates whether they pass or fail an examination will receive the same type of feedback through their results letter. This is because the College believes that the provision of numerical information about a candidate’s exam performance not only assists with improving a candidate’s performance at future examinations but also provides important information on which to base
further continuing professional development.

3.3 The College is aware that doctors undergoing recruitment processes may be asked to supply pass letters for the FRCA Primary or FRCA Final examinations to avoid recruitment bodies using feedback information to rank candidates or as part of a recruitment decision, feedback for candidates who pass the Primary or Final FRCA examinations overall is provided with the results letter.

3.4 The following feedback is provided on all exam results letters/feedback enclosures:

  • confirmation of the candidate’s pass-fail result
  • confirmation of the number of attempts used/maximum number of attempts
  • the examination pass mark as a raw score in relation to the maximum achievable test score (e.g. 315/420) and/or the percentage value (e.g. 75%)
  • the candidate’s overall score as a raw score and/or as a percentage value

3.5 In addition to the feedback listed at paragraph 3.4 candidates are provided with the following information for each FRCA exam component as set out below:

FRCA Examination Feedback provided, as paragraph 3.4 plus:
Primary MCQ Candidate raw scores in MTF and SBA
Maximum score available in MTF and SBA
Candidate’s score as a percentage value in the three sections of MTF (see Appendix 1 of these regulations)
Number of voids/unanswered questions
A full breakdown of question performance against the areas of the curriculum tested in the exam.
Primary OSCE Candidate scores for each live station
Candidate overall mean score
Primary SOE Candidate scores for each of the four sub-sections (see Appendix 1 of these
Final written The pass marks for the MCQ and CRQ sections
Candidate scores for the MCQ and CRQ sections
Candidate correct responses in MCQ MTF and SBA
Candidate raw scores in MCQ MTF and SBA
Maximum score available in MCQ MTF and SBA
Number of voids/unanswered questions in MCQ
A full breakdown of question performance against the areas of the curriculum covered in the MCQ section of the exam
Candidate score for each question in the CRQ
Candidate total raw score in the CRQ
Candidate mean raw scores for MCQ and CRQ sections
Final SOE Candidate scores for each part in SOE1 and overall score in SOE2. (see Appendix 1)


4. Additional feedback (examiners comments)

In addition to the feedback provided to candidates as set out at paragraph 3, examiner comments made on candidate performance at the Primary and Final SOE examinations are provided on request. On receipt of result letters, candidates can request a transcript of examiners comments by emailing There is no charge for this service. No comments are provided by examiners for candidates who sit the Primary OSCE examination.

5. Who else will be provided with feedback

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (the GDPR), a candidate’s examination result may be processed and passed to examiners, College Tutors, Postgraduate Dean, employer, etc for legitimate purposes connected with their training. Candidates registered or who anticipate being registered with the GMC will have their personal data, including data about their exam results, passed to the GMC for quality assurance and research purposes and to facilitate the awarding of certificates of completion of training (CCT). Candidates automatically agree to this when completing exam applications either in writing or online.

6. Feedback in extraordinary circumstances

The College believes it is necessary to provide more detailed feedback to candidates and their trainers where a candidate’s performance at OSCE and/or SOE examinations is poor or causes concern. This feedback, along with suggested additional educational support which could be provided, will be sent in the form of a letter to the candidate’s College Tutor or senior anaesthetic consultant and copied to the candidate concerned. This letter is designed to bring the trainer and candidate together to discuss poor performance and areas of concern, in order to provide support and agree additional educational training that can be put in place before the next attempt. Letters are automatically despatched to trainers and candidates where a candidate’s score is <20/48 in the Final and Primary SOE components and/or <180/320 in the Primary OSCE examination, and where the candidate’s performance demonstrates a concern in regard to patient safety.

7. Acting upon feedback

7.1 The primary responsibility for acting upon feedback from an examination lies with the candidate.

7.2 Where a candidate has failed an examination they should discuss their feedback with their College Tutor or trainer and undertake any specific exam preparation or additional educational training suggested in such a discussion before making any further attempt at the examination.

7.3 Where a candidate has passed an examination they should still review any feedback with their College Tutor or trainer in order to try and identify any weaker areas in clinical knowledge or performance which may benefit from further training or study as part of ongoing professional development.

7.4 Trainers should respond to requests from candidates to discuss their feedback, providing support and assistance in the provision of additional training and preparation for examinations, including advice on the timing of their next attempt.

8. Further assistance available to examinations candidates

8.1 In addition to the examination feedback provided, candidates may also find the Primary and Final examination chair annual exam summaries and the College’s annual examinations statistical reports useful in the interpretation of their own performance in relation to the analysis of exams data set out in these documents. The chair’s summary and the annual examination statistical
reports are available on the College website.

8.2 The College also publishes the pass rates of each examination on the exam results, statistic and research pages of the website within five working days of the release of results date.

8.3 When putting in place preparation plans for examinations, candidates should be fully aware of the various candidate resources that are available; these can be found on the examinations pages of the College website.