FRCR 2A Exam Advice
Basic Introductory Information
The FRCR 2a examinations comprise of 6 different written papers called ‘modules’ which are systems based and consist of single best answer questions (no radiological images). Candidates are only eligible for the 2a examinations once they have completed both components of the FRCR Part 1 examination. The 2a examination sittings occur twice a year in April and September. Candidates may sit any number of modules at the same sitting and must successfully pass each module before being allowed to attempt the FRCR Part 2b examination to obtain the full FRCR qualification.
For further advice on the examination dates, fees, syllabus, candidate guidelines and rules on how to apply please do look carefully at the Royal College of Radiologists website - http://rcr.ac.uk/content.aspx?PageID=2235
How Do I Revise for the 2as?
This is a common dilemma for many radiology trainees and many do feel a little daunted by the prospect of having to complete 6 written papers! This article aims to help give some advice and experience of previous trainees to help guide anyone feeling a little lost in this area.
First things first – you must ensure you register and apply for the examinations in good time! Many trainees forget that the deadline for registration can be quite early and miss out at this early hurdle. Do ensure you know the deadlines for applications and also post your form early (at least 2-3 weeks before the deadline)!
All applicants will get confirmation that their application has been received and processed. If you do not hear anything from the college after a week of sending your form, then do chase them up on this and ensure it has been received so you can resend another application before the deadline should it get ‘lost in the post’. Alternatively you may wish to send your application by registered/trackable mail.
How Many Modules Should I Take?
Good question! This is really dependent on the individual trainee.
Most trainees will take 2 or 3 modules at each sitting. If resitting some of the modules at later date, trainees may attempt up to 4 modules. It is possible to sit all 6 modules at one sitting, however do be aware this is extremely taxing and will require a lot of hard work and dedication!
You should probably identify what sort of commitments you will have during the revision period and where you will be on rotation when making this decision – if you know you will have free sessions for revision and that you will not need to be commuting long distances to work, then trying to do 3 modules may be possible. If you know you have other work/family/travel commitments at the same time then it may be best to be conservative and attempt 2 modules at first.
Which Modules Should I Take?
Another good question! Again, this also depends on the individual trainee. You may wish to do modules based on the rotation you are currently doing or if you have had a lot of clinical experience in a particular area, you may want to attempt this module first to give you the extra advantage.
In general, it is useful to try to sit modules which do have some overlap in their content to help reinforce learning and make revision easier. Many trainees start off by sitting the ‘Gastrointestinal’ and ‘Genitourinary’ modules together – but do be aware that the ‘Genitourinary’ module does also encompass breast imaging, adrenal imaging and O&G imaging as well.
‘Neuroradiology’ and ‘musculoskeletal’ imaging are also modules that are commonly attempted together as there is some overlap with spinal imaging and trauma imaging topics. Although again, do be aware that neuroradiology module also includes head and neck imaging as well as orbital imaging too!
Cardiovascular imaging is a large module with a lot of content to learn. It includes chest, cardiac and interventional imaging within it and therefore trainees tend to attempt this module a little later when they feel they have more clinical experience, however doing the module earlier on may also enhance your clinical training too!
In general, the paediatric module is one that trainees attempt last as it covers a wide range of systems and after a trainee has already sat and passed the other modules, it does make revising for paediatrics slightly easier.
How Long Should I Take to Revise for Each Module?
Again… this is very dependent on how much time you have, how you revise and what other commitments you have in your work/personal life as well as whether you get any ‘study’ sessions during your working week.
On average, it is worth spending about 6 weeks per module you are attempting. So if you are trying to sit 2 modules then do start revising approximately 2-3 months in advance.
What Books Should I Use?
1) It is worth investing in a good general radiology text book. Popular ones include one of the following:
Grainger & Allison’s Diagnostic Radiology Essentials, Grant and Griffin
Fundamentals of Diagnostic Radiology, William Brant, Clyde Helms
Primer of Diagnostic Imaging, Wittenberg MD, Mukesh MGH, Harisinghani MD, John Chen
2) Also a good reference text is a must:
Radiology Review Manual, Wolfgang Dahnert
3) Question books – just search through amazon for ‘FRCR 2a’ and you will come up with lots of textbooks of past questions. The majority of them are decent, and without a doubt, the more questions you attempt the higher your chances of succeeding. They can however be expensive and to save on money I recommend that you try to buy these textbooks secondhand from senior trainees, from personal sellers on amazon/ebay or even better see if you can borrow them for free from friends or your local hospital/departmental library.
4) Although this advice may be somewhat controversial and probably more useful for the 2B exams- having a flick through the ‘Case Review Series’ (by Mosby/Elsevier publishers) and ‘RadCases’ (by Thieme publishers) book series for the particular module you are sitting can be a real help in breaking down the periods of revision with pictures and putting your radiology knowledge into some sort of clinical context.
The most popular online resources for revision reading include:
Radiology Assistant – www.radiologyassistant.nl
Radiopaedia – www.radiopaedia.org
If you wish to do some practice questions online, you may want to check out:
Examdoctor – www.examdoctor.co.uk
West Midlands Radiology Training – www.radiologytraining.co.uk/frcr-2a
At present there are only a few 2a courses available which have only started being run in the last 2 years or so.
www.frcrcourses.com - based in Nottingham
www.merseyschoolofradiology.co.uk - based in Mersey School of Radiology
If you are a trainee who has some good advice on exam technique and revision you would like to share, why not post a message on our forum or alternatively email us at email@example.com