FFPMRCA Examinations

FFPMRCA Examinations

Next SOE sitting: 13 April 2021

  • Closing date:  2 March 2021, 17:00

Next MCQ sitting: 6 January 2021

  • Closing date: 8 December 2020, 17:00

Update on FFPMRCA SOE on 13 October 2020

The next sitting of the FFPMRCA SOE exam is confirmed for 13 October 2020.

The UK is once again opening up, however, there is still great uncertainty around whether this will and can be maintained. R-rates have been increasing in parts of the UK and overseas, changes to rules on quarantining when returning from abroad that may impact those returning from holiday have occurred with late notice, and recently, we have faced regional lockdowns.  We have therefore taken the decision to deliver the FFPMRCA SOE virtually using Zoom video conferencing. This will ensure that the exam goes ahead and is not impeded by circumstances beyond our control.

Candidates will sit the SOE from a location of choice and communicate with examiners virtually. Sitting the test in this way, removes the need to travel to London and any accommodation costs that may incur. It should also result in a more relaxed delivery, which will help candidates perform to the best of their ability. Please note, this change only affects the delivery method; the exam format, content and constructs remain unchanged. 

A number of pilots have already taken place using Zoom to deliver the SOE, and we are confident that the exam can be delivered in a reliable, valid and fair way. 

A detailed FAQ regarding the online delivery of the FFPMRCA SOE is available here.


The SOE Exam Prep Course will also be held online and is now open for bookings - more information can be found on the event page.

Keep an eye out for our next Exam Tutorial

Change of delivery for the next sitting of the FFPMRCA MCQ Examination - August 2020

The next sitting of the FFPM MCQ exam is confirmed for 26 August 2020, with a start time of 10am.  

To ensure that these exams go ahead and are not subject to changes in circumstance caused by COVID-19, we have decided to change the delivery method. The test will be delivered online and invigilated by remote invigilators through a company called TestReach. TestReach are very experienced in running online invigilated tests and expert on guiding candidates through a remote delivery of their examination successfully. Once you are enrolled on the exam, TestReach will support you personally in the set up and pre-test trial of your examination.   

With this type of test, candidates decide where they wish to sit their exam, be it their home or workplace, but whatever is decided, the environment must be quiet and free from distraction, and with a reasonably stable internet connection. We hope that sitting the test at a location of choice, will make the process less stressful and enable candidates to perform at their best. Most reasonable adjustments can be catered for and the standard process for adjustments will apply. 

A full list of requirements to sit the online exam and FAQs are available here.


TestReach tutorials for candidates

Generic tutorials of the TestReach system are now available on the RCoA website for candidates who wish to view the system prior to receiving a personal log in three weeks before the test date. 

The tutorials are in TestReach's Flexible canvas, which will be used for your test. In this canvas, you can adjust the panel size and highlight and annotate text.

Calculators are not permitted in this examination, therefore the calculator option shown in these tutorials will not be available in the live version of the test. 

TestReach tutorials can be accessed via this page.


FFPMRCA Examination Dates

Applications and fees not accepted before Friday 12 June 2020 Monday 26 October 2020 Monday 10 August 2020 Monday 1 February 2021
Closing date for FFPMRCA exam applications Tuesday 21 July 2020 Tuesday 8 December 2020 Tuesday 23 September 2020 (extended) Tuesday 2 March 2021
Examination date Wednesday 26 August 2020 - Online Wednesday 6 January 2021 Tuesday 13 October 2020 - Online Tuesday 13 April 2021
Examination fees



(2020-21 fee)



(2020-21 fee)



The Examination

The Fellowship of the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FFPMRCA) examination is consistent with the requirements for Fellowships of other UK Colleges and Faculties and established Faculties of Pain Medicine internationally. The examination is in addition to, not a replacement for, achievement of the competencies of Advanced Pain Training as currently assessed. The examination is conducted in accordance with the highest standards and further raise standards of Pain Medicine in the UK.

All Advanced Pain Trainees are required to take the examination (Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) paper and Structured Oral Examinations (SOE)) in order to achieve the FFPMRCA. For examination eligibility please see the regulations

Please click here for the RCoA CCT in Anaesthetics of which the Pain Medicine modules in Basic, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced and the generic modules from the curriculum for the examination can be found.


Examination Fees

Area Exam 2019-20 £

2020-21 £

(to take effect from Jan 2021)

FPM Final MCQ 530 555
FPM Final SOE 740 775

More information can be found in the RCoA Statement on Examination Fees.


Examination Results

Results (pass/fail list) are posted on the date indicated following each exam. 


Contacting us

For all queries regarding the FFPMRCA examinations please contact the RCoA examinations department at  exams@rcoa.ac.uk or call 020 7092 1523/1526/1529.


Examination regulations, guidance and related documents

FFPMRCA Examination FAQs

Following discussion with RCoA Council, it was agreed in 2008 that an examination needed to be created to award post-nominal Fellowships of the Faculty.  The Faculty Board introduced the examination, in line with other international pain examinations, to further drive up the standard and standing of Pain Medicine in the UK and of UK Pain Medicine internationally.

All questions are reviewed by the MCQ Core Group before and again after each sitting of the MCQ paper.   All queries about questions raised by candidates sitting the MCQ paper are discussed in detail at the MCQ Core Group’s meeting held a week after the MCQ paper.  Any questions assessed as being contentious or unclear are discounted from the marking of the paper.

The syllabus for the examination is the Basic, Intermediate, Higher and Advanced Pain Medicine component of the CCT in Anaesthetics curriculum. 

A trainee took and passed the examination has also written an article for Transmitter with a full library of suggested reading. The Training & Assessment Committee has provided a curriculum expansion document.

The Examination fee is set by the RCoA and the FPM and is designed to break even on paper (and in reality lose money once overheads are included). The Examination is subsidised by Fellowship subscriptions in order to not fully pass the cost burden onto examinees. The FPM appreciates that the cost is higher than the FRCA (although still lower than other Colleges) – holding a high standard, well designed, quality assured and continuing improving examination is not an inexpensive endeavour and the comparatively small numbers undertaking the exam mean we benefit less from economies of scale.

Yes.  The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) and Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) ensure that trainees, members and fellows are provided with an appropriate breakdown of costs of supporting trainees and in the provision of the examinations that form part of the relevant training programmes.  For the purposes of this analysis, the income and expenditure for FRCA, FFICM and FFPMRCA examinations have been combined, as the vast majority of the functions are managed centrally by the RCoA examinations department to improve economies of scale.

Each department within the College and each Faculty has its own budget which is managed by the relevant head of function and the overall directorate budget is the responsibility of the relevant director.

For further details on the cost of training please click here.

It is entirely understandable for those taking the exam to perceive the actual examination days themselves as the major part of the exam process. In reality, each exam sitting, whether MCQ or SOE, takes a considerable amount of development, both in times of physical days (Standard Setting Groups, Core Groups for question writing, training etc.) and remote development (IT systems, engagement with the Academy/GMC on national assessment changes). A difference in fee between the written and oral components of the exam has been agreed to reflect the different costs of the actual exam days, in similar ratio to that of the FRCA.

The FRCA has been in existence for a considerable time longer than the FFPMRCA and therefore has a bank of question many times bigger, allowing a number of used questions to be released for revision purposes. So far the FFPMRCA has released a small sample of questions (see below). We will continue to release example questions at a rate made possible by question writing. The Court of Examiners is already considering ways to increase question writing to support this.

For the MCQ: The pass mark for each MCQ exam is set using a modified Angoff method. An Angoffing group, comprising examiners and independent Pain consultants (including junior consultants who have recently attained the Fellowship), grade each question in the paper according to difficulty using the proxy of the likelihood of borderline candidates knowing the answer. A week following the exam a meeting takes place in which the group spends several hours discussing the scores given, with particular regard to the questions where there is disparity in the responses. Once an agreed score for each question has been reached a raw score for the paper can be calculated. The raw score is adjusted to allow for the potential for guessing the correct answers. The t pass mark is set as the adjusted raw score further reduced based upon the Standard Error of Measurement (SEM), a statistic relating to the reliability (Kuder-Richardson 20 score) of the exam. This resulting figure is then rounded down to the nearest whole number to give the pass mark.

For the SOE: At least two standard setting tools are employed in setting the pass mark for the oral component of the exam. Prior to the exam examiners are asked to consider a number of parameters based on pass rate and pass mark, for an exam at this level these parameters are then cross referenced against actual cohort performance to generate a Hofstee chart. During the exam, in addition to candidates being marked on each question, performance at the exam is graded by examiners on a global ratings scale. This global rating is then cross-referenced against performance in individual questions using a linear regression method. The suggested pass marks generated by these two methods (which, to date, have been the same figure) are then used as a basis for discussion between examiners. The individual performance of all candidates whose scores are just above or just below the suggested pass mark are reviewed by the court of examiners in coming to a decision regarding whether they have demonstrated sufficient knowledge and understanding to be awarded the Fellowship. Discussion of these borderline candidates’ performances’ determines the final decision of where the pass mark should be set. Angoff and Ebel referencing methods have also been employed to assist in setting the pass mark.