TEE UPDATE: FRCA Examination places in academic year 2021-22

Published: 19/08/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for anaesthetists in training particularly in relation to FRCA examinations. To comply with UK government guidelines and social distancing rules while continuing to deliver a range of examinations, the Royal College of Anaesthetists transitioned all face-to-face examinations to an online delivery model.

Delivering examinations to an online model has reduced the number of candidates we are able to accommodate in sittings of the Primary clinical examination component (SOE/OSCE). This is unfortunate but necessary, as the process of managing connection issues, and aligning candidates and examiners at each round is complex and takes more time than the traditional delivery method.

This limit on exam capacity for the SOE and OSCE examinations means that we have had to implement a policy of prioritisation in order to support anaesthetists in training in UK training programmes, who are required to sit the FRCA examination as a mandatory part of training. This has meant that unfortunately we have been able to offer very few places to applicants outside of the UK.

We continue to work through a significant backlog of examination candidates and, on reviewing these numbers, it is unlikely that we will be in a position to offer exam places for our clinical and oral examinations for a further 12 months to candidates with temporary exam eligibility (TEE).

Please be advised that there is no prioritisation in place for the MCQ examination and currently no limit to the number of candidates who can take this examination. If you are an existing TEE candidate who has not passed the Primary MCQ, then you can still apply for this examination in the usual way.

The window for new applications and renewals for temporary examination eligibility will be suspended from the 1st September this year (2021) on the account of the reduced capacity to deliver the Primary OSCE SOE clinical examination and applications for TEE received after this date will not be processed.

We understand the impact of this decision on our people wishing to apply for TEE and the impact the prioritisation has on our existing TEE candidates and we ask for your patience while we work to reduce the backlog of candidates. We will provide an update on our progress ahead of the next academic year (commencing August 2022).

Existing TEE candidates who believe that the have exceptional circumstances which mean they need to sit an exam next year can notify the examinations department by emailing exams@rcoa.ac.uk. Enquiries will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

Validity of examination components

Since a validity period comes into effect once an examination had been passed (three years for the Primary MCQ and seven years from passing the Primary to completion of the Final), prioritisation of examination places may have resulted in some candidates being unable to sit an exam and holding exam components that are close to expiring.

In recognition of the challenge that prioritisation has posed, the College feels an appropriate step is to extend the validity periods of exam components for candidates who have been unable to gain an examination place during the pandemic. If a candidate received a pass in a given component of an examination and the validity period of this pass was due to come to an end from March 2020 onwards, and if they have been unable to gain a sitting at an examination during the 2020-2021 academic year, the validity period on the passed component will be extended by one year.

If other circumstances, such as COVID-related clinical commitments and COVID-related illnesses, have prevented candidates from sitting an exam in the current academic year and caused the validity period to expire, they should email exams@rcoa.ac.uk to outline their case. Please ensure that the email is supported by a statement from an educational supervisor or the mentor supervising your professional development.

The College urges all candidates to read the detailed prioritisation information provided on the College website. Candidates who have any questions about this update should email exams@rcoa.ac.uk