West Midlands

FRCR 2A – Exam Tips

Watch the video tutorial


Exam format

  • 6 modules x 75 questions
  • Can attempt any number of module (1-6) in each setting
  • Single best answer (SBA) – each question has a stem question and 5 opitions (a)-(e) to choose from,  only one option is the correct answer
  • No negative marking


Choose a reference textbook

You only need one.  I personally recommend Primer because I am more used to reading  information in bullet point form.

Popular textbooks Pros Cons
Primer of diagnostic imaging Concise easy to read – significant layout improvement in the latest version American textbook some info may not be applicable/relevant
Grainger & Allison's diagnostic radiology No info No info
Dahnert Radiology review manual Comprehensive text pretty much cover everything you need to know about radiology Complex format with too much details

Make sure you get lots of MCQs practice

Pros Cons
Reinforce your memory –  information better retained Sketchy information does not cover the entire syllabus
Highlight key points False reassurance/ sense of security
Concise summary in answer section Different MCQ books may give conflicting information



What to expect?

Topics Comment Example
Anatomy Yes they can still ask question on anatomy! Which of the following cranial nerves does not supply the tongue? (CNS)
MRI sequences Like it or not radiologists are increasingly spending more time on reporting MRI What is the best MRI sequence for diagnosing carotid/vertebral artery dissection? (CNS)
Suggest diagnosis It won't be straight forward – information will be either extremely convoluted or limited. Candidates are expected to make the best guess based on information provided Barium follow through study demonstrates narrowed thickened distal terminal ileum in this 29 year old male patient – what's the most likely diagnosis? (options include TB/ IBD/ malignancy etc)
Choice of investigation Helps if you have some medical/surgical background – keep in mind when revising for IIA exam What's the best test for investigating suspected urethral injury?
Common practice/ protocol This tends to catch ppl out – if you don't work with radiographer or actively participates in day to day activity A 1 week post partum female patient has arrived for a contrasted CT scan how will you advise her regarding breast feeding?

Revision tips

Tips Comment
Keep things simple! It's not about how much you know – it's about how much information you can RETAIN. Concise focused information is all you need.
"Compare and contrast" Don't study individual pathology – you will find it difficult to put things together in exam. Always compare and contrast similar conditions – recognise features that will separate one from other.
Identify the "theme" Each SBA usually has at least one "theme" – e.g.  sclerotic bone lesions/ cystic lung changes etc. Once you have identified the theme search for information that will point to the most likely diagnosis/ answer.
Pay attention to patien'ts parameters This information alone is usually enough to point to a definite diagnosis. E.g. age/ sex/ ethnicity/  duration of symptoms/ additional laboratory tests/ specific imaging findings

 Revision materials

Source Comment
Self-learning There is no established course for FRCR Part IIA that I know of – just do plenty of MCQs
IIA lectures Go to regional teaching if you wish however I personally don't find them very helpful since they are not exam orientated
MDT meetings ARE good source of information Things you won't learn from textbook – how to solve complex clinical case/ management approach/ choice of investigations
Part IIB film viewing sessions They ARE more relevant than IIA lectures in my opinion


Exam techniques

Tips Comment
Grab the points you deserve! Time allocated is short – you won't be able to go back to check your answer twice. Read the question carefully and decide whether you know the answer right on the spot put it down on answer sheet and move on. Make sure you don't lose points on things you know because you misread the questions or try to rush through them.
Don't dwell on difficult questions   Come back later to try to work out the answer for difficult questions after you have gone through all the questions at least once
Make a list of stuff you know you are going to forget during your revision There are things that we all tend to forget no matter how hard you study (e.g. TMN system/ eponyms etc) – make a note of stuff like that so that you can quickly go through them immediately before the exam.
Attempt only 2-3 modules in one sitting There is no incentive to try to pass all 6 modules in one go – the more modules you take the more difficult for you to pass each module. You have 4 attempts before part IIB exam take your time and focus on 2-3 modules at a time
Pick the right combination of modules I strongly recommend doing chest + GI + GU and MSK+ CNS + paeds in 2 separate sittings if you are going for 3 modules per exam. There are significant overlapping in those 2 combinations
Allocate time accordingly Chest is a huge topic if you just want to take things slow perhaps start with GI + GU. MSK and paeds are highly specialised areas – it makes a huge difference to attempt these modules AFTER you have done you specialty block
Plan your revision session according to exam timetable No brainer – study module that's going to happen last on the timetable first.
Prepare for oncall – don't do it! There is a misconception that studying for exam will help 2nd year registrars to cope with oncall duty – IT WON'T! So focus on the modules you are most familiar with first (i.e. chest/GI/GU for most first year registrars unless you have previous experience in CNS/MSK/paeds)

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