FRCA Primary MCQ examination

About the MCQ

The Primary FRCA Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination is a summative assessment aligned to the core level training curriculum. It forms a gateway exam to further detailed and focussed assessment in the Primary FRCA SOE and OSCE components.

The Primary FRCA MCQ examination is delivered online with remote invigilation by our supplier, TestReach. Please refer to our detailed guidance on sitting your examination online.

The successful MCQ candidate will have demonstrated an appropriate breadth and level of knowledge and understanding of core sciences and their relevance to practical anaesthesia and anaesthesia related medicine. Candidates must pass the Primary FRCA MCQ before they can apply for the Primary FRCA OSCE and SOE.

The format of this examination changed in September 2023. 

The Primary FRCA MCQ exam now comprises 90 Single Best Answer (SBA) questions in three hours.  

The whole syllabus is tested in the Primary FRCA. Those parts tested by the MCQ are detailed in the document entitled 'CCT in Anaesthetics, Annex B, Core Level Training'.  The SBA questions will broadly, but not exclusively, comprise: 

  • 30 questions in pharmacology
  • 30 questions in physiology including related biochemistry, and anatomy
  • 30 questions in physics, clinical measurement, statistical methods and data interpretation

Each SBA question has a stem or vignette, a lead in question and five plausible options. Candidates must decide which of the five options is the best answer.

Candidates are reminded that MCQ questions may be selected from any of the curriculum codes highlighted as being tested in the Primary MCQ. Candidates should refer to page B96 'Blueprint of the Primary FRCA examination mapped against the core level units of training' within the document 'CCT in Anaesthetics, Annexe B, Core Level Training' for more information.


How it is marked   

One mark will be awarded for each correct answer with a maximum mark obtainable of 90 marks.  Negative marking is not used. 

The pass mark is provisionally set by examiners using a modified Angoff method. The core group reserve the right to remove questions from the overall marks where error or ambiguity is found. Candidates will not be disadvantaged where this occurs.


A quick guide to eligibility is set out below.
You must be:

Primary MCQ – maximum six attempts – pass valid for three years
Registered with the GMC or other National Medical Council AND
Currently registered with the RCoA as a UK trainee in Anaesthesia, or as an ACCS, a Foundation Programme trainee, ICM trainee or registered as a trainee in Anaesthesia with the College of Anaesthetists, Ireland (ACCS, FTs and ICM trainees are registered with the College on registration for exam purposes only) 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)

Has not exceeded the maximum number of attempts (six).  If failed at the fifth attempt, as submitted an Advanced Educational Training form (AET form) three months before the date of the exam being applied for. Information and AET form is available at Paragraph 8 and Appendix 8 of the Examination Regulations

The full eligibility for this exam is listed at Section 5 Paragraph 13 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 MCQ Examinations Calendar; 2024 - 2025

Application opening date

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 

Monday, 5 August 2024

Monday,  25 November 2024 

Application closing date

Monday, 08 July 2024  Thursday, 26 September 2024 Wednesday,  18 December 2024 

Examination date

Tuesday, 3
September 2024 

Monday, 18 November 2024

Friday, 14 February 2025 

Examination fee


£400 £400


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.

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 February 2024 Primary MCQ exam will be released by email by 5pm on Tuesday 12 March 2024. 

No results will be given or confirmed by telephone.

Candidates sitting the Primary FRCA MCQ exams are provided with a breakdown of question performance against the areas of the curriculum tested in the exam. This allows trainees and trainers to identify shortfalls of knowledge so that focussed preparation can be put in place prior to the next attempt. 

Guidance interviews are not normally provided to candidates who fail the Primary MCQ.  However, if a candidate fails the MCQ at the fifth attempt,  a one-to-one session with a member of the MCQ examiner core group may be possible. Please contact the exams department

Primary FRCA MCQ Examination

SBAs are used in UK undergraduate and postgraduate medical assessments, and are widely used by medical colleges, faculties and the GMC. Over the last 3 years, the MCQ examination has been  increasing the number of Single Best Answer (SBA) questions, whilst reducing the number of Multiple True False (MTF) questions. This change does not affect the exam blueprint for the MCQ and the College will continue to test the same areas of the curriculum across the exam overall.

With the release of the examination reviews, further changes in line with the recommendations in these reports are anticipated. More information on these changes will be available from February 2023.