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 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 SOEs.

The Primary FRCA MCQ currently comprises, 90 MCQs in three hours, 60 Multiple True False (MTF) questions and 30 Single Best Answer (SBA) questions. comprising approximately:

60 MTF consisting of the following categories:

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

30 SBA questions in any of the categories listed above. 

How it is marked   

One mark will be awarded for each correct answer in the MTF section of the paper and four marks will be awarded for each correct question in the SBA section. Negative marking is not used. The marks for each section of the MCQ will be combined to produce the total mark. With 60 MTF and 30 SBA questions, the maximum mark obtainable for the MCQ paper is 420 marks. The pass mark is provisionally set by the examiners using assessment methods approved by the GMC. To allow for the examination’s reliability this mark is then reduced by one Standard Error of Measurement (SEM) to give the pass mark. 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.

Language

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; August 2019 to July 2020

Application opening date

Monday, 10 June 2019

Monday, 2 September 2019

Monday, 28 October 2019

Application closing date

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Examination date

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Examination fees

£330

£330

£330

Primary MCQ Examinations Calendar; August 2020 to July 2021

Application opening date

Monday, 22 June 2020

Monday, 31 August 2020

Monday, 19 October 2020

Application closing date

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Examination date

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Examination fees

TBC

TBC

TBC

 

Apply and pay online.                                                                                                                 

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.

The Primary FRCA MCQ is held at seven national exam centres; Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Sheffield.  Candidates should select their preferred centre on application.  

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. When applying online, check the ‘I have a disability’ and ‘I require exam adjustment’ boxes . For more information on reasonable adjustments, please refer to the Examination Regulations.

Withdrawals: withdrawals before the closing date may receive the full fee paid. Candidates withdrawing after the closing date may be entitled to a full refund, providing the request is made within 14 days of receipt of the application. For withdrawals greater than 14 days, the refund is subject to an admin fee.  Fees cannot be deferred from one exam to another.

The result date for the Primary FRCA MCQ is on the admission notice. 

Results in the form of a pass/fail list are released at 2pm on the date indicated on the admission notice. Candidates will be identified using a three figure candidate number. This is an exam specific number issued to candidates on their admission notice.  Please do not call the College to confirm your candidate number. 

Candidates can choose to opt out of the pass/fail list by contacting the exams department exams@rcoa.ac.uk at least 48 hours before the release of results date.                                   

All candidates will be sent a breakdown of their results within seven working days after the pass/fail list has been published. 

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 exams@rcoa.ac.uk

Over the next 4 years, the Primary MCQ examination will increase the number of Single Best Answer questions, whilst reducing the number of Multiple True False (MTF) questions. SBAs are used in UK undergraduate and postgraduate medical assessments, and are widely used by medical colleges, faculties and the GMC. This change will 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.

The current format will continue to be used for exams on the 19 November 2019 and 3 March 2020. From September 2020, papers will contain 45 MTF and 45 SBA questions (a 50/50 split), from March 2022, papers will comprise 30 MTF and 60 SBA questions, with a 100% SBA question paper from September 2023.

Candidate resources are a consolidation of the various example questions, videos, courses and guides, any of which may guide a candidate in their preparation for the various FRCA examination components.