FFPMRCA Examinations

FFPMRCA Examinations

Next MCQ sitting: Wednesday 09 February 2022

  • Opening date: Monday 22 November 2021
  • Closing date:  Thursday 06 January 2022 - application window now closed

Next SOE sitting: Tuesday 29 March 2022

  • Opening date: Monday 17 January 2022
  • Closing date: Wednesday 02 March 2022

Remote Examinations

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the recent sittings of the FFPMRCA MCQ and SOE exams were held remotely. Information on the delivery of these exams is available below.



The next sitting of the MCQ is TBC. Like the last MCQ sitting on 6 January 2021, this exam 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 candidates enrol on the exam, TestReach will support them personally in the set up and pre-test trial of their examination. 

TestReach tutorials for candidates

Generic tutorials of the TestReach system are available on the RCoA website for any candidates who wish to view the system in advance and can be accessed via this page.


The last sitting of the FFPMRCA SOE exam took place on 13 April 2021. To ensure the exam proceeded and was not impeded by new restrictions or circumstances beyond our control, the decision was taken to deliver the FFPMRCA SOE virtually using Zoom video conferencing

Please note, this change only affects the delivery method. The exam format, content and constructs remain unchanged. 

Candidates sat the SOE from a location of choice and communicated with examiners virtually. Sitting the test in this way removed the need to travel to London and any accommodation costs that may have incurred. 

SOE Exam Prep Course 

This event was also held online - more information can be found on the event page.

Applications for the SOE now open.


FFPMRCA Examination Dates

Applications and fees not accepted before Monday 22 November 2021 Monday 02 August 2021
Closing date for FFPMRCA exam applications Thursday 06 January 2022 Monday 13 September 2021
Examination date Wednesday 09 February 2022  Tuesday 12 October 2021 
Examination fees




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 2020-21 £

2021-22 £

(from Jan 2021)

FPM Final MCQ 555 560
FPM Final SOE 775 780

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


Examination Results

Results are emailed directly to candidates.

SOE: Results for the SOE are emailed to candidates on the Monday following the SOE exam. 

MCQ: Results for the MCQ are emailed to candidates on the Friday or Monday 2 weeks after the exam is held. 


Contacting us

For all queries regarding the FFPMRCA examinations please contact the RCoA examinations department at  exams@rcoa.ac.uk or call 020 7092 1520


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.