FAQs


Eligibility

Is any part of the Final exam open to doctors who have never held an approved training programme in the UK?
Yes. From September 2012, doctors who have been practisng anaesthesia in an NHS post for at least one year (on the date of the exam) and have received a satisfactory appraisal are eligible to sit the Final exam, provided they meet all other eligibility criteria. 

Do I need to have been in a training programme for a certain length of time?
No. There is no criterion for the amount of time you have been in a training programme.

I am no longer in a training post – can I still take the examination?
Yes, provided that your last training post was within five years of the closing date for the examination you are applying for. There is no time limit for Specialty/SAS doctors who hold a satisfactory appraisal.

Do I need to have passed the FRCA Primary exam?
The Primary FRCA Examination is part of the eligibility requirement for the Final FRCA examination, however, there are certain exemption qualifications which can be used as part of your eligibility for the Final in place of the Primary FRCA Examination these exemptions are listed at paragraph 19 of the current Primary and Final Examination Regulations.

Is there a time limit on when I passed my Primary FRCA examination or exemption qualification?
Yes. You must have passed your Primary FRCA examination or relevant exemption qualification within seven years preceding the published start date of the sitting you are applying for. Please note that some exemption qualifications carry specific time restrictions, applicants are advised to check paragraph 19 of the current Primary and Final Examination Regulations.

What competency based certificates do I require?
You will need to have been awarded the UK Basic Level Training Certificate (or equivalent); or the Irish Certificate of Completion of Basic Specialist Training; if you are sponsored under the ODTS you should have received at least one satisfactory ARCP. Doctors working as an anaesthetist in the NHS UK and have not been in a UK training programme in the last five years may submit a satisfactory NHS appraisal.

Do I need to be registered with the College?
All applicants must be registered with the College. Doctors employed in an NHS post with a clearly determined training element must have joined the College's Voluntary Register see Regulation 17(a) (vi). Irish trainees and former Irish trainees must be registered with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Are there any limits on the number of attempts?
Yes. You are allowed 6 attempts at the Final FRCA written examination and 6 attempts at the Final SOE examinations. Attempts at the Final exam under the old regulations (prior to September 2010) count in full against attempts remaining under the new regulations. You will need to prove additional education/training plans have been put in place, through the submission of an AET FORM1, three months before being allowed to apply for their last (6th) attempt.

I have passed my Final Written exam. How long is this pass valid as part eligibility towards the Final SOE exams?
A pass in the Final Written section is valid for three years as part eligibility towards the Final SOEs. 


Application

Where can I find the application windows and exam dates for the Final FRCA Examinations?
Dates of all FRCA examinations, including opening and closing dates for applications, can be found on the appropriate examinations calendar.

If I miss the closing date is there any system for submitting a late application?
No. The closing date is final. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the application is delivered. For this reason we advocate that applicants allow sufficient time for delivery and if an acknowledgement is not received to check whether delivery has taken place.

If I get my application to the College by 5.00 pm on the closing date am I guaranteed a place on the exam?
No. An application means the submission of a correctly completed application form with a correctly attached fee. Therefore, if the application form is incomplete or incorrect or there is a problem with the clearance of the fee, which cannot be resolved by 5.00 pm on the closing date, then the application will be rejected.

Where do I get an application form?
Applications are available to download from the applications page.

My next attempt will be my final (sixth) attempt.  Where do I get an AET FORM1 from?

An AET FORM1 is available at Appendix 8 of the Primary and Final FRCA Examination Regulations.  A Word version is available to download on the examinations regulations page of the website, related downloads.

Do I need my College Tutor or supervising consultant's signature on my application form?
No the College Tutor' or supervising consutant no longer needs to sign the exam application form.  However, an applicant must sign the form to the effect that they have their full support..

I am in an approved training post, what documents do I need to include with my application?
If this is your first attempt at the Final written or you have not sat the Final written exam post September 2009, then you will have to supply a copy of your Basic Level Training Certificate, which should bear the signature of your RA and CT. Once we have seen your BLTC we will record the date of issue on your records, so you won't need to send it again should you have to re-apply for the written or when you apply for the Final SOEs.  If you are submitting an NHS Appraisal then you will need to send one with every application.

I am NOT in an approved training post what documents do I need to include with my application?

  • A certified photocopy of your full registration with the GMC or Irish Medical Council.
  • A copy of your Basic Level Training Certificate, we only need you to send this once, see above.
  • Proof of being in a current approved training post (Irish trainees only).
  • A satisfactory NHS Appraisal (non-UK applicants and former UK trainees who have been out of training for more than five years).
  • All documents should be photocopies and signed by a consultant as a true record of the original.

I have already sent the documents requested in a previous application. Do I have to supply them again?
Yes. with the exception of the BLTC. Your circumstances may have changed since the last time you applied and the College does not have sufficient storage to retain every document submitted. Therefore, to ensure that we have the most up to date information and timely processing of applications, applicants are required to submit all documents requested with each application. With the exception of your BLTC as we have an area to record this on the College system.

How will I know that you have received my application?
On receipt of your application we will send an ‘acknowledgement email' to the address on your application form. If you have not received an acknowledgement within two weeks of dispatching your form, then you should contact the examinations department. Receipt of an acknowledgement does not necessarily mean that you have been entered into the exam. If there is a problem with your form or fee then you will be contacted by us and will not be entered into the exam until the problem has been resolved.

What are the fees for the academic year 2012/2013?
You can find the current fees here.

How do I pay?
Payment should be made by cheque or postal order and made payable to ' The Royal College of Anaesthetists'. Applicants should ensure they have sufficient funds to meet the fee, if a cheque does not clear then the application will be rejected. The College does not accept payment by credit card or bank transfer for examinations.

Are there any waiting lists for this exam?
There are no waiting lists for the Final Written. There are presently three waiting lists for the SOE component, which is subject to examiner availability and therefore the College is restricted to how many candidates it can examine each day. The waiting lists are as follows:

  • Former UK trainees.
  • Trainees currently in approved training posts in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Former trainees in the Republic of Ireland.
  • If you fit in to any of these three categories, your application will be held on the appropriate waiting list until after the closing date. Waiting list applicants will be accepted, following waiting list order, if the College has the capacity to examine them. All waiting list applicants will be informed whether they have been accepted onto the exam or not, as soon as possible after the closing date. Cheques will not be cashed until applicants have been allocated a place on the exam.

Disability and Pregnancy

Are there any regulations for accommodating disabilities?
Yes. These are listed at Appendix 3 of the current Primary and Final FRCA Examinations Regulations.  Please note there are no special arrangements for Dyslexic candidates sitting SOE exams. All other requests for special consideration for dealing with disabilities will be considered on an individual basis. A request must include a written statement of support from your occupational health department, confirming that your difficulties warrant special examination arrangements.

I am expecting a baby around the exam date should I inform the College?
Yes. Prospective candidates should notify the Examinations Department as soon as possible of the fact of their pregnancy and the expected week of confinement. Such details should, where possible, be attached to your application form. Full details are set out in the Primary and Final FRCA Examinations Regulations.


Reasonable adjustment

All candidates applying for FRCA examinations are advised that the College policy on Disability and Reasonable Adjustments is available at Appendix 3 of the FRCA Primary and Final Examinations Regulations.  To assist candidates in understanding when and how to apply for reasonable adjustments to their examinations a list of Frequently Asked Questions is provided below:

How do I inform the College of a disability and/or request for a reasonable adjustment to my examination?
Candidates should initially inform the College of this at the time of application by completing the ‘I have a disability’ and the ‘I require exam adjustment’ boxes on the application form or by ticking the appropriate pop-up boxes during the online application process, this should also be carried out at all reapplications and repeat attempts at any component(s) of the examination.

When should I inform the College that I require or wish to discuss the possibility of the provision of an exam adjustment?
On completion of submitting their exam application and in addition to indicating they require adjustments during the application process, all candidates seeking reasonable adjustments must submit full written details of any adjustments they require to the Head of Examinations by emailing exams@rcoa.ac.uk the subject heading of the email should include the name of the examination applied for and the wording ‘request for exam adjustments’. For example; Primary FRCA MCQ, September 2017 - request for exam adjustments.

What information do I need to provide to the College?
At the first request for reasonable adjustment candidates must supply supporting evidence from an appropriate authority, such as; the candidate’s GP, their college tutor or supervising consultant. If a candidate is seeking reasonable adjustments for an SpLD then they must provide a report from an approved assessor* when contacting the Head of Examinations.  This assessment needs to have been undertaken and provided in English and obtained after the age of 16. The report must include recommendations in regard to exam adjustments.

Who will know that I have informed the College of a disability or condition?
Your request for reasonable adjustment will be dealt with by a small team with in the examinations department.  In complex cases it is possible that the chair of the examinations committee and a small advisory group may be involved in the decision-making. We will keep the information you give us confidential and store it in line with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Who is an acceptable person to provide supporting evidence of my needs?
Candidates must supply supporting evidence from an appropriate authority, such as; the candidate’s GP, their college tutor or supervising consultant.

If a candidate is seeking reasonable adjustments for an SpLD then they must provide a report from an approved assessor* when contacting the Head of Examinations. 

*Approved assessors include:

  • specialist teachers who hold a practicing certificate, such as Dyslexia Action, BDA or PATOSS. Candidates can check if an assessor holds the appropriate qualifications on the SASC (SpLD Assessment Standards Committee) website
  • a practicing chartered or educational psychologist who is registered with the Healthcare Professionals Council. A candidate can check if an assessor is registered on the HCPC website.

Where candidates are unclear if the person who completed their assessment is an ‘approved assessor’ they should contact the Head of Examinations for clarification.
Reports will be held on file therefore they only need to be submitted at the first attempt.

What reasonable adjustments can the College provide?
The Equality Act sets out three different considerations that the College must take reasonable steps to comply with when considering reasonable adjustments. They must avoid substantial disadvantage through provision, criterion or practice and from physical features and provide or allow the use of auxiliary aids where without one a disabled person would be substantially disadvantaged. 

Each type of exam format/delivery may make different demands on the candidate and therefore may influence whether reasonable adjustments will be needed and the kind of reasonable adjustment which can be put in place. Therefore the College recognises that it is not possible or appropriate to attempt to define a pre-determined set of reasonable adjustments and any decisions will need to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Adjustments are not merely based on the impairment(s) but how the impairment(s) would potentially impact on a candidate’s performance at an exam.

Do I need to contact the College about a reasonable adjustment at subsequent attempts at an examination if I was provided with adjustments at a previous attempt?
Yes as mention above you must indicate you have a disability and require adjustments at the application stage and follow that up in writing by emailing the head of examinations. Candidates should not assume that they will be granted adjustments at forthcoming exams just because they were provided certain adjustments at previous attempts.

If I have previously failed an examination and  then discover that I have a disability and may have benefit from a reasonable adjustment, such as extra time, am I entitled to any extra attempts? 
No. If a candidate is diagnosed with a disability after failing an examination component, they should contact the Head of Examinations to discuss reasonable adjustments that can be provided for future attempts.  However, all previous attempts taken prior to the diagnosis will still stand.

Candidates are strongly advised that should they feel that their performance may have been impaired by an underlying disability they should seek advice after their initial failure rather than taking further attempts at the examination.


Exam Centres and Day Preference

Where can I sit the Final exams?
The Final FRCA Written examinations are held simultaneously in London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Belfast, Sheffield and Edinburgh. The SAQ component runs from 0930 to 1230 and the MCQ component runs from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm with candidate briefing for each component 15 minutes before start time. Your preference must be entered on your application form. The College is restricted by the spaces available at each centre. Therefore early application will give the best chance of being allocated your preference. The Final SOE exams are only held at the Royal College of Anaesthetists.

Can I sit this exam or any FRCA exam overseas?
No. The FRCA examinations are to support the UK training programmes for anaesthetists, therefore there is no requirement to hold examinations outside the UK.

Can I change centres?
Yes, up to one week before the written exam date, providing there is availability at the centre you wish to move to. At one week before the exam the figures for each centre are set and the College is unable to move candidates from one centre to another. Requests to change centres must be made by email.

Can I indicate a preference for a particular day during the SOE exam week?
Yes, you will be given the opportunity to indicate a preference for your SOE examinations at your written examination. Please note that preferences cannot be guaranteed and the exam may not always run from Monday to Friday inclusive.

Can I change my preference day(s)?
Yes, providing you notify the College prior to the list of those proceeding to the SOEs are published. Allocations are made shortly after the results of the written exams are finalised. It is not possible to move candidates once candidate schedules have been made. 


Withdrawal

If I withdraw from an examination are the fees refunded?
If you withdraw from the examination before the closing date, you are entitled to a refund of the examination fee less an administrative charge. If you withdraw from the examination after the closing date, you are not entitled to any refund although a discretionary exception may be made in cases of personal illness, bereavement etc. You should write to the Examinations Manager if you fall into this category and you will require a supporting letter from your CT. Success in examinations of a sister College will not attract a refund of the fee.

I want to withdraw, what do I do?
You should contact the College exams department immediately. Firstly by phone then follow up in writing either by letter or email. You should keep your College Tutor informed of your decision and reasons for withdrawing.

Can I transfer my fee or defer to the next examination?
No. Each examination is managed and accounted for separately and will follow the regulations in force on the opening date. Therefore the College cannot defer applications or hold fees from other exams.

Does withdrawing from an examination count as an attempt?
No an attempt is where a candidate enters the examination building and commences documentation. Withdrawal or full absence will not count as an attempt. 


Before the Exam

I have received an acknowledgement e-mail. Should I phone to check I have been accepted for the exam?
No. The College will book you onto the examination, once your application details and fee have been verified.  If there is a problem with your form or examination fee then we will contact you to resolve any issues. Please note that if issues cannot be resolved before the closing date then applications will be returned. If you are subject to waiting lists we will contact you after the closing date.

Does the College provide reading lists or recommended books for the examinations?
No. We recommend that candidates discuss their reading with their College Tutor.

Where can I find examples of FRCA questions?
The Guide to the FRCA Examination: The Final has examples of questions.  You can order a copy via this link by completing and returning the order form or contacting the Finance Department directly.

When will the admission documents be sent out?
As soon as possible after the closing date, please note that it will take around seven working days, due to candidate allocating and scheduling, daily allocation for those attending the SOEs will be pub by post as soon as possible after the list of those coming forward has been published.

What identification will I need to take to the examination?
This should be in the form of a passport or photo driving license. Hospital ID is not acceptable. Where the name on the photographic identity being used is not identical to that given on your application form, due to marriage etc, then the original marriage certificate or solicitor’s letter, as appropriate, must also be produced. The College should be informed in advance of attendance where this is the case (020 7092 1521). 


After the Exam

When and where will the results be published?
A list of those candidates who have scored sufficient marks in their written examination, to allow them to proceed to the SOE components of the Final FRCA examination will be published on the College website on a date announced in admission notices and again during the written examinations. Result letters will be sent to those unsuccessful at the written stage.  We will let you know if you have passed or failed the Final SOE on the day of your examination. The expected time of announcement of results will be given on your admission notice for the oral component and confirmed to you verbally on the day of your exam. Formal result letters will be sent, by post, to all candidates attending the SOE examinations within seven working days after the final day of the examination week.

If I fail this exam, at the written stage can I get a further breakdown than the one supplied in my results letter?
No, the breakdown given on your letter is the most comprehensive available. 


Feedback, Recalculations Reviews and Appeals

If I fail this exam after taking the SOEs can I get a further breakdown than the one supplied in my results letter?
Yes. On written application to the exams department, either by email, exams@rcoa.ac.uk, or in writing to the College address.

I want to make a representation/appeal with regard to the conduct of the examination. How can I do this?
The College is committed to maintaining the highest possible standards for its examinations. If you feel dissatisfied with any part of the examination process then we would like to know, so that we can review the situation and make changes where necessary. To ensure that requests for reviews or appeals are dealt with formally and consistently, you must follow the format set out in the College Representations, Reviews and Appeals Regulations.

I want the results awarded to me to be reviewed. Do the Appeal Regulations allow for this?
No. The Representations, Reviews and Appeals Regulations state that: 'No review… may be made of matters which relate solely to academic assessment'. 


Changes to the Final Exam

I am intending to apply for this exam at a later date. Are there any expected changes to the present FRCA Final examination format and regulations?
In November 2013 the number of attempts for all FRCA components were set at six.  Before sitting the final (6th) attempt applicants will need to prove that additional education/training is in place.  On the 1st August 2014 the validity of the Final Written will be increased to three years as part eligibility towards the Final FRCA SOE.  The composition of the Final MCQ questions will change see Appendix 1 of the Examinations Regulations dated 1st August 2014.

I have sat the Final FRCA Examination before have there been any recent changes to the present exam?
Yes. The Final FRCA Examination went through major changes in 2009:

  • The MCQ and Short Answer Questions (SAQ) examination marks are added together to give a single result. Both papers carry equal weight.
  • The pass marks for each part of the examination is calculated using the marking systems set out in Appendix 2 of the current regulations.
  • The pass mark for the combined examination is the sum of the pass marks of the two papers.
  • The written examination is stand-alone from the SOE examination; it is pass/fail and must be passed before applying to sit the SOE.
  • A pass in the written examination is valid for two years.
  • In September 2009 the following changes were made to the Final SOE:
  • SOE 1 and SOE 2 merged into a single SOE examination, conducted in two sessions, each with two examiners, and with the number and content of the questions unchanged.
  • The answer to each question is given a numerical score by each examiner.
  • Each examiner will independently mark every answer.
  • The candidate’s overall score is the total marks awarded by all the examiners for all the questions. In September 2011 the following changes were made:

SAQ examination
Final Written

  • All questions will be marked out of 20 in accordance with the marking guides for each question, these are agreed at the appropriate Standard Setting Day. The Board of Examiners will no longer award 10% of the marks for each question for clarity, judgement and the ability to prioritise. Marks will no longer be deducted for serious errors.
  • In 2010 the following changes were made:
  • Guidance will no longer be mandatory. Click here for further information.

Final FRCA MCQ

  • The number of multiple true/false questions will be reduced from 90 to 60.
  • 30 single best answer questions (SBA) will be added to the paper.
  • Specimen SBA questions were published on the website in September 2009 and can be found on the exam changes page.
  • The poor fail boundary in the SAQ will no longer be used. Candidates will no longer have their papers reviewed if they receive three or more poor fails in the SAQ.
  • Click here for further information.
Final FRCA SOE Links
Final FRCA SOE Home Page
Exam Structure
Dates Fees and Applications
Results Allocations and Statistics

 

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