Assessment Strategy for 2021 Anaesthetics Curriculum

Published: 10/01/2023

The Primary FRCA examinations

The Primary FRCA examination consists of three components:

1. The Primary FRCA Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination

The Primary FRCA MCQ contains 90 MCQs: 60 Multiple True False (MTF) questions and 30 Single Best Answer (SBA) questions. The 60 MTF questions assess the following subject areas:

◼ 20 questions in pharmacology

◼ 20 questions in physiology, including related biochemistry and anatomy

◼ 20 questions in physics, clinical measurement, statistical methods and data interpretation.

The 30 SBA questions are taken from any of the categories listed above.

The Primary FRCA MCQ examination is a summative assessment blueprinted to Stage 1 of the curriculum. It forms a gateway examination to the Primary FRCA SOE and OSCE examinations, which assess the application of knowledge tested in the MCQ. A successful MCQ candidate will demonstrate an appropriate breadth and level of knowledge of the core sciences, and their relevance to practical anaesthesia and anaesthesia-related medicine. This forms the basic knowledge that underpins all further training in anaesthetics.

2. The Primary Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) examination

The Primary FRCA OSCE comprises 16 live stations, all of which count towards the result. To allow additional candidates to be examined, one or more rest stations may be added. The Primary OSCE stations currently assess resuscitation, technical skills, anatomy (general procedure), history taking, physical examination, communication skills, anaesthetic equipment, monitoring equipment, measuring equipment, anaesthetic hazards, and the interpretation of images. One or more of the stations may involve the use of a medium fidelity simulator.

The Primary OSCE is a summative assessment of a candidate’s clinical and communication skills, and applied technical knowledge of anaesthetic equipment, clinical monitoring and measurement. The Primary FRCA OSCE is taken together with the SOE and is blueprinted to Stage 1 of the anaesthetic curriculum. A successful candidate will have demonstrated the clinical skills and applied technical knowledge across multiple clinical scenarios required of a competent Stage 1 trainee.

The OSCE is the only component using a simulated clinical environment, including communication with simulated patients. The OSCE complements the Primary SOE, and candidates must pass both parts to be awarded the FRCA Primary.

3. The Primary Structured Oral Examinations (SOE) The Primary SOE has two subsections:

◼ SOE 1: oral examination consisting of three questions in pharmacology, and three questions in physiology and biochemistry.

◼ SOE2: oral examination consisting of three questions on clinical topics (including a critical incident), and three questions in physics, clinical measurement, equipment and safety.

The Primary FRCA SOE is a summative assessment of a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the basic sciences; the foundations upon which further clinical knowledge is based. The SOE also assesses clinical decision-making and knowledge of equipment used in Stage 1 training. The SOE is taken together with the Primary FRCA OSCE, and is blueprinted to the Stage 1 training curriculum.

The SOE complements formative assessments undertaken in the workplace, and provides assurance that candidates have reached the accepted national standard of knowledge and competence to progress to Stage 2 training.