Changes to the FRCA Exams

Exam Change Date
Final Exams From 1st April 2015 the Irish Primary/MCAI exam will no longer be accepted as an exemption exam as part eligibility towards the Final FRCA exams 1 April 2015
FRCA Exam From 1 August 2014 the composition of the Final FRCA MCQ examination will change to ensure the question topics fully reflect the breadth of the relevant anaesthetic training curriculum. 1 August 2014
FRCA Exam From 1st November 2014 the maximum number of attempts for all Primary FRCA examinations increased to six attempts.  Conditions apply for all final (6th) attempts. 1 November 2013

Changes to the FRCA
The FRCA Examinations and examination processes are regularly reviewed.  Changes are sometimes made in response to these reviews and sometimes due to requirements from the UK regulator (the GMC) or changes to training requirements.  Before a change is made it must be agreed by Examination Committee and College Council, then approved by the GMC.

The changes to the Exams are listed below in chronological order with the most recent changes listed first:

Implementation dates to be confirmed:

Following the 2015 examinations review the following changes have been approved by the GMC:

1. Format of Final FRCA Short Answer Question (SAQ) Examination to be changed to a Constructed Response Question (CRQ) Examination. 

2. A number of amendments to the Final FRCA Structured Oral Examination (SOE) to be introduced:
• Change to the SOE timetable, introduction of an extra table change, so that candidates will see six examiners instead of four.
• Reduce the Long case to two sections instead of three
• Merge short case topics with the applied clinical science that underpins the relevant topic.

3. With effect from 1st August 2016, the requirement to complete the Final FRCA exam in its entirety will move from the end of ST4 to the middle of ST5 (i.e. 30 months after commencing ST3).


1st April 2015

  • With effect from the 1 April 2014 the Irish Primary/MCAI examinations will cease to be recognised as an exemption examination as part eligibility towards the Final FRCA exams.

1st August 2014

  • With effect from the 1 August 2014 the composition of the Final FRCA MCQ examination will change to ensure the question topics fully reflect the breadth of the relevant anaesthetic training curriculum. The question structure of the Final MCQ will remain unchanged and continue to consist of 60 x MTF and 30 x SBA.  The Primary and Final FRCA Examination Regulations August 2014, Appendix 1:  Structure of the Examinations – Final FRCA Examination – Written, will be amended accordingly, full details regarding the change to the question composition can be found on the exams news page.

1st November 2013

  • With effect from 1st August 2014 the maximum number of attempts for all Primary FRCA Examinations will be increased to six attempts.  (This will come into force for all examinations set out in the 2014 - 2015 examination calendar and until further notice).  In addition to remaining eligible for the examinations applied for, at the sixth attempt at any component of the Primary or Final FRCA, a candidate must provide evidence of additional educations experience/training.


  • Primary – the dates of the Primary MCQ and OSCE/SOE Exams have been altered to allow successful candidates at the MCQ to apply for the next sitting of the OSCE/SOE.

September 2012

  • With effect from 1 September 2012 the Final FRCA examination components will be open to any doctor practicing anaesthesia in the NHS
  • As of September 2012 Council agreed the reduction of a validity of a pass in the Primary/exemption qualifications from 10 years to seven, This reduction will bring the length of validity for all FRCA examinations in line with the maximum of seven years, recommended by the GMC and supported by the AoMRC. It is anticipated that this will affect a very small number of applicants.  Extensions to the validity of a pass may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

September 2011

  • Primary – the primary components of the FRCA will be open to any anaesthetist.  Further information is available here.
  • Primary MCQ – addition of SBA questions, reduction of MTF questions from 90 to 60.  Further information is available here.
  • Final MCQ – the number of multiple true/false questions were reduced from 90 to 60; 30 single best answer questions (SBA) were added to the paper.  Further information is available here.
  • Guidance  –  guidance is no longer mandatory.  Candidates may have one guidance interview at Primary and Final level. Refunds of upcoming exam fees will not be provided after advice at guidance.  Further information is available here.

20 May 2011

  • Validity of Primary MCQ – extended from two years to three years.  Further information is available here.

March 2011

  • Final SAQ – examiners will no longer award 10% of the marks for clarity, judgement and ability to prioritise.  Marks will no longer be deducted for serious errors.  Further information is available here.
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