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Book review

SBAs and MCQs for the Final FRCA

European Journal of Anaesthesiology: December 2012 - Volume 29 - Issue 12 - p 605
doi: 10.1097/EJA.0b013e32835abad3
  • Free

Edited by Rakesh Tandon

Published by Oxford University Press: 1st edn., 2012

ISBN 978-0-19-966133-6

Pages: 287; B&W

Whilst a sound theoretical knowledge is essential for success in postgraduate anaesthetic exams, technique is also an important part of exam preparation. The Royal College of Anaesthetists (UK) has recently revised the written part of the Final FRCA examination to include Single Best Answer questions in addition to traditional five stem true or false questions. Single Best Answer questions consist of a question or scenario followed by five options, one of which will be the ‘best’ answer. They are thought to be a better method of testing the processing and application of knowledge than the traditional true or false questions, which test pure factual recall.

SBAs and MCQs for the Final FRCA has been written to address the paucity of published material available to prepare for the new style of examination. Whilst other books offer true or false or Single Best Answer questions alone, this is one of the first books to combine the two styles of questions in the manner they appear in the real examination. The introductory chapter provides an outline of the format of the new examination and suggests to readers a sensible approach to answering questions. The book then provides four mock examination papers in the new format. Each consists of 60 true or false and 30 Single Best Answer questions, covering a wide variety of topics as specified by the curriculum. The questions are well written and of a level of difficulty representative of the real examination. The options presented for the Single Best Answer questions are plausible, requiring the candidate to apply their knowledge to select the most appropriate answer. Relevant new topics such as H1N1 influenza and novel drugs such as PF0713 are included. In addition, the fifth chapter contains a further three mini exams each consisting of 30 Single Best Answer questions to provide the reader further opportunity to practice this new style of question. Each examination paper is followed by an answers section. The question number and corresponding answer (A to E) is listed, followed by a concise summary of the topic. This could have been improved by reminding readers of the question together with the answer to prevent unneccesary flicking between chapters.

The topic summaries are, on the whole, concise and well-presented, offering key definitions and facts. Occasionally these can appear as ‘blocks of text’ making it difficult to skim read to find an explanation for a certain stem. Particularly relevant to the clinical Single Best Answer questions, the authors have tried to explain the reasoning behind why the correct answer is the most appropriate amongst a number of plausible answers. This seems to be where candidates have struggled the most in recent examinations and is, therefore, useful preparation. Up-to-date relevant references to key guidelines, journal articles and popular textbooks are presented to enable further in depth study of topics should the reader wish. The questions from this book (plus further questions) also appear on the PASSit website ( should a reader prefer an online subscription instead of a paperback book.

In summary, this text helps candidates familiarise themselves with the Final FRCA written examination, allowing them to test their knowledge and improve their technique. It addresses the lack of Single Best Answer material available. As the papers reflect the structure and content of the actual examination, the papers could be used to practice under timed, examination conditions. The book may also be of interest to candidates preparing for other international postgraduate anaesthetic examinations where a similar style of question is used.

Dr Joy Abbott

Department of Anaesthesia

Queens Medical Centre



Email: [email protected]

© 2012 European Society of Anaesthesiology