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FRCR Physics Notes

Revision notes for the First FRCR physics exam

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18 mock anatomy exams for the first FRCR examination

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FRCR 2A exam

Also known as the Final FRCR (Part A) exam



After passing the First FRCR exams (anatomy and physics), the next step is to pass the Final FRCR (Part A) exam.  The FRCR 2A exam consists of 2 papers sat on the same day; each paper containing 120 single-best-answer questions (240 questions in total).  Each paper lasts 3 hours.

   Two papers, One exam

  • The exam is split into two papers purely to allow for a break during the 6 hour assessment.  The papers comprise one exam and there is no concept of passing one paper.  The pass mark and results issued related to the one single exam.

Candidates are examined on all aspects of clinical radiology and this exam must be passed before a candidate can attempt the Final FRCR (Part B) exam.  The exam can only be attempted after passing the First FRCR exam and candidates must have acquired a minimum of 24 months formal radiology training (i.e. ST3).

The exam is made up of 40 questions from each of the following subspecialties:

  • Cardiothoracic and Vascular
  • Musculoskeletal and Trauma
  • Gastro-intestinal
  • Genito-urinary, Adrenal, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Breast
  • Paediatric
  • Central Nervous and Head & Neck

Both papers will be completely mixed and contain questions from all subspecialties.  The results after the exam will be broken down by subspecialty so you receive feedback on your strong and weak areas.  The pass and fail will be based purely on overall percentage.

The examinations are held twice a year in December and June.  Exact exam dates can be found on the RCR website here.  We recommend starting revision as early as possible (mid-ST2).  More information including sample questions can be found at the Royal College of Radiologists website.

Top tips for the 2A exam

  1. Apply for the examination in good time

    • Many trainees (and we know this has happened to some of our colleagues) forget that the exam application deadline comes pretty early and miss out by applying too late.  You must ensure that you receive confirmation that your application was received by the college BEFORE the deadline, even if submitted online.  Always apply at least 2-3 weeks before the deadline.
  2. Do lots of practise questions

    • Probably the most important tip!  Practise questions get you used to the style of the exam and are a great way to learn.  We recommend the following approach for each question:
      1. Attempt the question
      2. Understand the answer
      3. Spend time reading around each of the stems of the single best answer (SBA) question to understand why they are incorrect
  3. Invest in several question books, a general radiology textbook and a reference text

    • Question books are a must (see point 2).  It is also worth getting a general radiology textbook such as Grainger & Allison’s Diagnostic Radiology, Fundamentals of Diagnostic Radiology (Brant & Helms) or Primer of Diagnostic Imaging (Weissleder).  These are good to read through before starting practise questions to give you a good overview of the sort of topics you will need to cover in more detail.  Lastly reference text(s) are an absolute must.  Radiology Café recommends the Radiology Review Manual by Wolfgang Dahnert.  You will not be expected to learn this cover to cover (as that will probably take all of your free time!), but when looking things up and reading around questions, few others books have the required level of detail that Dahnert has.
  4. Read Radiographics articles

    • A wise consultant once said that if you read all of the Radiographics articles from the last 10 years, you’ll probably pass the exam… and they’re probably right.  Radiographics review articles are a great resource and will teach you a specific topic in detail.  They are the perfect revision resource for the 2A exams!
  5. Mark the answer sheet clearly

    • A computer is used to read the answer sheets so mark them clearly with a HB pencil. If you place an incorrect mark, ensure you rub it out fully!
  6. Don’t be discouraged if you fail

    • The 2A exam is tough.  Just remember that when you come to retake, you will have already done half of the work!  You probably just need that little bit extra to pass!

What are the best revision books for the FRCR 2A exam?

Recommended reference:

Crack the Core Exam - Volume 1
Crack the Core Exam - Volume 1 and 2
Prometheus Lionhart

A good core textbook which succinctly covers a lot of the common exam topics with many good aide memories. There are some inaccuracies so you'll need to cross-reference with other sources, and it is written by an American so doesn't cover any national UK guidelines and sometimes uses brand names for basic drugs which you may need to look up. We suggest you annotate with your own notes as you revise.

Fundamentals of Skeletal Radiology
Fundamentals of Skeletal Radiology
Clyde Helms

Known as "the pink book". A superb introduction to musculoskeletal radiology providing a good overview of tricky areas, particularly bone lesions. Recommend reading cover to cover before doing 2A practise questions.

Radiology Review Manual
Radiology Review Manual
Wolfgang Dahnert

A comprehensive radiology reference text with logical organisation, extensive lists of imaging findings and differential diagnoses. Many diagrams, but no radiology images. The 2A exams often ask you about the smallest of details straight out of this book. Do not read cover to cover (that's insane), but use as a reference while revising for the exams.

Recommended question books:

What FRCR 2A courses are there?

  FRCR 2a Courses

What are the best online resources?

  Recommended PodCast

Songs 4 FRCR: Radiology FRCR 2A Revision PodCast logo

Songs 4 FRCR: Radiology FRCR 2A Revision
Passive FRCR 2A revision for commutes and lazy days combining revision with cheesy music.  Worth a listen.

If you have anything you would like to add to this page or know of any useful tips/resources for future exam candidates, then please contact us and we will consider adding to this page!