FRCR Part 1 – a detailed guide for international radiologists
FRCR Part 1 or CR1 is the first exam in the FRCR postgraduate qualification.
The completion of all the exams in the Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists (FRCR) examination suite leads to eligibility for GMC registration. The exams can be taken by IMGs from any country, provided certain criteria have been met. In this article, we’ll take a look at the following:
Skip ahead to the relevant section if you know what you’re looking for.
An Overview of FRCR
FRCR is the set of postgraduate examinations administered by the Royal College of Radiologists to test a candidate’s knowledge and clinical understanding within the scope of the Specialty Training Curriculum for Clinical Radiology.
The exams are as follows:
Please note that only full FRCR satisfies the postgraduate requirements for overseas doctors.
You can read an overview of the full FRCR examination suite via our IMG Resources library.
For doctors who are interested in securing senior roles in the NHS which are reflective of their current practice or grade, we advise that FRCR is the best route to take to GMC registration. FRCR is often a requirement for NHS locum consultant job postings where candidates are not already on the Specialist Register for radiology. The FRCR route allows senior candidates to better align their qualifications with the specifications of relevant jobs.
FRCR Part 1 - Anatomy & Physics
FRCR Part 1 is the first in the set of FRCR exams. This exam expects candidates to have gained knowledge of the physical principles that underpin diagnostic medical imaging and of the anatomy needed to perform and interpret radiological studies.
The exam is designed to assess whether candidates have an appropriate knowledge of the anatomy that underpins all radiological imaging including radiography, fluoroscopy, angiography, computed tomography (CT), ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The two components of the exam are Anatomy and Physics.
The exam features an electronic image viewing session, mimicking what radiologists would encounter in clinical practice in order to be valid, thus the questions consist of radiological images on a computer screen as this is the normal medium, as opposed to film or printed on paper.
The exam includes 100 questions - most of these are quite straightforward with an arrow indicating a specific anatomical structure as shown by a specific modality. These are typically “name the arrowed structure” questions, with space provided for a free text answer.
The exam lasts 90 minutes and individual modalities are given roughly equal weight as follows:
- plain radiographs
- contrast studies
Different body parts are also given roughly equal weight covering the following areas:
- head, neck and spine
- chest and cardiovascular
- abdomen and pelvis
Recognising a radiological anatomical structure and unprompted recall of its precise name is a key aspect of the everyday work of clinical radiologists, and doing so in a timely manner without routine recourse to reference material reflects real-life clinical practice.
The purpose of the physics exam is to assess whether candidates understand the underlying principles that underpin the generation of images in the various modalities, such that they:
- select the most appropriate imaging technique for a clinical scenario from the intrinsic properties of the method of image generation
- understand the risk, safety and quality consideration that are inherent in image generation to allow an informed choice of the appropriate modality and any alteration in technique
- demonstrate the requirements of legislation that require the use of those techniques that require ionising radiation to be justified by a professional had been met
This exam lasts two hours and comprises 40 questions. Each question includes a stem (a question or statement) and five items (answers). The answers must be marked true or false and it is possible for all five items to be true or for all to be false.
The question distribution of the physics paper is as follows:
- matter and radiation – 3
- radiography & fluoroscopy – 6
- radionuclide imaging – 6
- radiation safety – 6
- computed tomography – 6
- magnetic resonance imaging – 6
- ultrasound – 6
- other – 1
Both exams are marked by a delivery platform which is programmed with the correct answers.
Marks are awarded for each exam as follows:
The anatomy examination is marked out of 200, and answers are marked as follows:
- full accuracy = 2 marks
- less accuracy, but still correct (e.g. omits ‘left’ or ‘right’ for a paired structure) = 1 mark
- incorrect = 0 marks
The physics examination is marked out of 40, and answers are marked as follows:
- correct = 1 mark
- incorrect = 0 marks
The standard for success is determined based on the difficulty of the questions in each sitting and may therefore vary between sittings and sets of images.
For more information on the exam content and structure, read the guidance notes for candidates on the College website.
The eligibility criteria for FRCR Part 1 is:
- holding a Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) that is recognised by the GMC for registration purposes.
- holding a formal clinical radiology post in which they are actively receiving clinical radiology training.
- no minimum period of clinical experience or training is required to enter the exams
The current venues for the First FRCR (CR1) exam are:
Belfast, Birmingham, Bridgend Wales, Crewe, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Plymouth. Overseas centres for now are in Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Egypt and Malta.
The exam is typically held three times a year over two consecutive days. 2023 exam dates are as follows:
- Physics – Thursday 9 February
- Anatomy – Friday 10 February
- Physics – Thursday 8 June
- Anatomy – Friday 9 June
- Physics – Thursday 14 September
- Anatomy – Friday 15 September
For updates on exam dates, including the application window, keep an eye on the Royal College website here.
Applications & Cost
First FRCR (CR1) 2023 exam cost:
- Members - £319
- Non-members - £406
Please note that these costs vary slightly for some overseas centres.
UK trainees are given priority for examination places, followed by members of the Royal College and finally non-members. Each window lasts around a week and all candidates should apply for the exams through the Royal College website here.
Although there are many online materials to aid in your preparation for FRCR Part 1, as always, we recommend you start your preparation on the Royal College website, particularly with the Specialty Training Curriculum for Clinical Radiology. In using these as a blueprint for your preparation, you will ensure your study is focused on the most relevant and useful information as prescribed directly from teaching materials.
Instructional video and demonstration site: a walkthrough video of the FRCR Part 1 exam format with guidance and instructions which can be found here for the physics component and here for anatomy.
Anatomy module guidance: advice for the anatomy module has been compiled by the College here.
Specimen questions: sample questions and answers have been put together by the College and are available here.
- Prepare early – the best way to avoid stress and last-minute cramming is to get started as soon as possible.
- Get familiar with the exam content – during your study (at least to start off with), the curriculum should be your guide to the FRCR exams.
- Practise, practise, practise – go through as many practice questions as you can and regularly review your progress using mock exams.
I’ve passed the First FRCR exam, what’s next?
Firstly, congratulations! This is an incredible achievement, and you deserve to treat yourself after all that hard work! With a pass in the First FRCR in hand, you can look ahead to the Final FRCR CR2A and CR2B exams. Once you have completed all parts of FRCR, you can apply for full GMC registration with a license to practice.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team to learn more about the opportunities available to you once you’ve passed FRCR.
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