FRCEM Primary - a closer look

  • March 24, 2022

To help make your FRCEM journey a success - here we’ll take a closer look at FRCEM Primary, including eligibility, dates, fees & exam centers.

We will also provide some tips to give you the best chance of passing first time - giving you FRCEM success and moving closer towards full Membership of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (MRCEM). 

Designed to help you prepare and sit the exam, we consider the following topics: 

What is the FRCEM Primary? 

The FRCEM Primary Examination is the first examination in a series of three and is mapped to the Emergency Medicine 2015 Curriculum. You can find more detailed information provided in the RCEM Basic Sciences Curriculum (June 2010) which is available here or as a downloadable PDF

The MRCEM Part A has been replaced by the FRCEM Primary exam with effect from August 2016. 

Completion of the FRCEM examinations (Primary/Intermediate/Final) results in the award of Fellowship of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine. 

The Royal College strongly advises all applicants to familiarise themselves with the Basic Sciences Curriculum when preparing to sit the FRCEM Primary Examination.

General advice is to get to know the curriculum as early as possible and use it as a road map for your study plan. 

What is the content and structure? 

The FRCEM Primary exam consists of one 3-hour paper of 180 multiple choice, single best answer questions (SBAQs). 

You must choose one best answer from a choice of five feasible answers. 

The paper will examine all the domains of knowledge in the Basic Sciences Curriculum including:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Evidence Based Medicine

Can I sit the exam more than once? 

Candidates are permitted a maximum of six attempts in which to pass the FRCEM Primary Examination. 

Previous attempts at the MRCEM Part A examination prior to August 2016 do not count towards the number of available attempts. 

The examination is conducted in English and candidates are advised that IELTS Level 7 is the expected standard for completion of the FRCEM examinations. Remember, you will need to have a pass of 7.5 average in all areas of IELTS to complete your GMC registration.

What is the curriculum? 

The blueprint for the FRCEM Primary Examination is as follows: 





Upper limb 

Lower limb 



Head and Neck 

Central Nervous System Cranial Nerve Lesions



Basic cellular physiology

Respiratory physiology

Cardiovascular physiology

Gastrointestinal physiology

Renal physiology 

Endocrine physiology



Gastrointestinal pharmacology 

Cardiovascular system 

Respiratory system 

Central Nervous System 


Endocrine system 

Fluids and electrolytes 

Muscoskeletal system 

Immunological products and vaccines Anaesthesia



Principles of microbiology 

Pathogen groups



Inflammatory responses 

Immune responses 


Wound healing 



Evidence Based Medicine

Statistics Study methodology

Principles of critical appraisal





Am I eligible? 

To be eligible you must hold a Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) that is recognised by the GMC for registration purposes.

You do not need to be registered with the GMC to enter.

Don’t forget! You may need a visa to enter a different country to sit the exam. Failure to check this could prevent you from sitting the exam and your examination fee will not be refunded.

How can I apply?

All applications are made online.

Please note, the application can take some time to complete so it is always advisable to apply well in advance of the deadlines.

Applications submitted after the application period will not be accepted. 

Links to all application forms and application windows are available here.

Where and when can I take the exam? How much will it cost me? 

Exam dates and locations for 2019 are currently available, these are regularly updated by the Royal College and can be found here

Dates dates for 2020 have not yet been released – IMG Connect will post these as soon as they become available. 




FRCEM Primary

Short Answer Question Paper


London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Leeds, Cardiff


Chennai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Reykjavik, Kuala Lumpur, Muscat


How do I prepare for the exam and what resources are available?

With lots of resources available online, we have discussed with IMGs the best place to start looking for materials relating to the exams. Most IMGs recommended starting with the Royal College, who have created useful resources to help you to prepare for the exams. See below: 


Applicants are tested on a range of common and important disorders in Emergency Medicine as set out in the Emergency Medicine Training Curriculum 2015.

Information Packs:

These provide detailed information for the relevant examination components so that you can best prepare for your studies and what to expect on the day:

Sample questions: 

Test your knowledge using example questions from the current exam syllabus provided by the Royal College, see below:

Glossary of Terms: 

The royal college uses many terms that may cause confusion, so take plenty time to understand the terms and definitions used in this guide. 

Candidates are expected to be rigorous in their use of these terms.

Glossary of terms used in RCEM exams.

Online resources: 

There are lots of resources online, such as videos on YouTube, FRCEM courses and useful reading materials. We think that these are a great addition to your study plan, just be sure to check your sources. 

For a useful overview of how to prepare for exams, including advice on study groups, online community support, best use of online resources & Royal College materials and courses, take a look at our blog: IMG Connects Top Tips for exam preparation 

Passed? What next? 

If you are completing the papers in order, the next step will be to apply for FRCEM Intermediate Certificate. For more information take a look at our blog where we explore FRCEM Intermediate and everything that you need to know about how to sit the exam, including syllabus, dates, results, fees and preparation. 

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