FRCA Primary SOE

About the SOE

The Primary FRCA SOE is a summative assessment of a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the basic sciences, which are the foundations upon which further clinical knowledge is based. The SOE is taken along with the Primary FRCA OSCE and is aligned to the core level training curriculum.

Due to COVID-19, the Primary OSCE/SOE will be delivered online. More information on this delivery method is provided in Taking the OSCE/SOE online – guidance. Please also refer to the OSCE and Primary/Final SOE in Practique VIDEO GUIDE and the Candidate Guide for taking the Primary OSCE/SOE exam in Practique.

A successful candidate in the SOE will have demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of basic sciences, clinical decision-making and the principles and safety aspects of equipment used in core level training. Candidates are required to pass both the OSCE and SOE components before they can be awarded the FRCA Primary.

The SOE complements formative and summative assessments undertaken in the workplace and provides assurance that candidates have reached the accepted national standard of knowledge and competence to allow progression to intermediate level training. 

The Primary SOE consists of two subsections:

  • 30 minutes of three questions in pharmacology, and three questions in physiology and biochemistry; followed by
  • 30 minutes of three questions on clinical topics (including a critical incident) and three questions in physics, clinical measurement, equipment and safety.

How it is marked

Two examiners mark each part of the SOE. Both examiners independently mark every question. There are 12 questions, 2 marks are given for a pass, 1 mark for a borderline performance and 0 marks for a fail, giving a maximum total score of 48 marks. 

Primary OSCE SOE – maximum six attempts – component pass valid for three years
Registered with the GMC or other National Medical Council


  • Currently registered with the College as a UK trainee in Anaesthesia or ACCS or registered with the Faculty as a trainee in ICM, 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) AND
Passed the Primary FRCA MCQ in the last three years

Awarded the Initial Assessment of Competence in Anaesthesia or recognised equivalent.

Has not exceeded the maximum number of attempts for the exam applied for.  Has submitted an Additional Educational Training form (AET1) prior to the sixth attempt.

The full eligibility for this exam is listed at Section 6 Paragraph 15 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 OSCE/SOE Examinations Calendar; August 2020 to July 2021

Application opening date

Monday, 23 August 2021

25 October 2021

31 January 

Application closing date

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

8 December 2021

16 March 

Examination date
(week commencing)

Monday, 8 November 

24 January 2022

16 May 

Examination fees





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. Confirmation of exam bookings will be communicated with candidates once the booking window has closed.

COVID and Exams - prioritisation of applications for academic year 20/21

Due to reduced capacity from virtualisation of the OSCE and SOE exams, section 4 of the Regulations, Prioritisation of Applications will be applied, which gives priority to UK graduate trainees. 

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, you should check the ‘I have a disability’ and ‘I require exam adjustment’ boxes. You must do this at the time of booking your exam. 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: 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.  A candidate who withdraws in any other circumstance within 7 working days of an exam date, including non-issue of entry visas or failure to appear for an examination, will not be entitled to any refund of fee. Exceptional circumstances will be considered on receipt of written evidence. Fees cannot be deferred from one exam to another. 

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 November 2021 Primary OSCE/SOE exam will be released by email at 2pm on Monday 22 November 2021. 

No results will be given or confirmed by telephone.


All candidates who pass or fail FRCA exams will receive the same feedback, which will be set out on their results letter and dispatched to all candidates by post within seven to fourteen days of the release of the pass/fail email. Full details of the type of feedback provided for each exam component is set out in the Primary and Final FRCA examinations regulations - appendix 9 - feedback policy.

Additionally, candidates who have been unsuccessful in their SOEs may request examiner comments on their performance.  Examiner comments are not available for the MCQ or OSCEs. Written requests should be emailed to the exams department.

Exam Guidance interviews are also available to candidates, see below.  Guidance is provided by local examiners who will recommend the action to be taken by a candidate in relation to the information provided on a candidate's performance.

There are no mandatory requirements for candidates to attend guidance interviews up to the fifth attempt for each component.  At the sixth attempt candidates must have attended a guidance interview.

A candidate who has failed any of the following components more than once may request a guidance interview.  Guidance is limited to one per examination component:

  • Primary OSCE/SOE

Please note that no special consideration will be given in respect of refunds following guidance interviews.

Interviews are arranged locally wherever possible although interviews can be arranged virtually if local trainers and examiners are not available. To arrange a guidance interview, please contact the exams department.

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.