Reviews of Educational Material  |   October 2017
Reviews of Educational Material
Author Notes
  • Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom (J.E.A.).
  • (Accepted for publication May 2, 2017.)
    (Accepted for publication May 2, 2017.)×
Article Information
Reviews of Educational Material / Education / CPD
Reviews of Educational Material   |   October 2017
Reviews of Educational Material
Anesthesiology 10 2017, Vol.127, 731. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000001745
Anesthesiology 10 2017, Vol.127, 731. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000001745
Possession of the diploma of Fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FRCA) is an essential requirement for trainees in anesthesia in the United Kingdom. The final FRCA examination is typically attempted midway through the current 5-yr United Kingdom training program (postgraduate year 7), and it represents the gateway to higher specialist training in anesthesia.
The written component of the final FRCA examination comprises two papers: a short answer question paper and a multiple choice paper consisting of 60 true–false multiple choice questions (MCQs) and 30 single best answer (SBA) questions. SBAs have been included in both primary and final FRCA examinations since 2010–2011. SBAs are considered to be much better at testing reasoning and clinical judgment than traditional MCQs. Although a good number of books providing examples of MCQs are available, there are still relatively few anesthetic texts that specifically cover SBAs. Get through Final FRCA Single Best Answers seeks to address this deficiency and, perhaps somewhat reassuringly, all of the authors possess the FRCA diploma!
The book provides five separate practice papers, each with 30 SBAs followed by the answers and a detailed discussion of the plausible options. From an examiner’s perspective, SBA questions should adhere to certain “house rules”: a clinically relevant, unambiguous, and comprehensive question stem no more than three sentences in length, followed by five homogeneous plausible answers of similar length, forming a grammatically consistent and logically consistent continuum, arranged in alphabetical order. One of the five answers is considered “best,” and it should be possible to read and answer each SBA in less than 1 min without reference to the five listed options. Writing good SBAs is difficult, time-consuming and best done by examiners (or authors) working in small groups.
Get through Final FRCA Single Best Answers covers a wide range of relevant subjects in clinical anesthesia, intensive care medicine, and pain management. Although the SBA options are not listed in alphabetic order, the authors have successfully avoided the common SBA writing pitfalls—spelling and grammatical errors, element repetition, and use of extremes such as “never,” “only,” and “always”—that inadvertently cue a reader to the correct answer. The answers and discussion sections provide a clear and logical question-by-question explanation of why the correct answer is the best answer. Each question discussion has at least one reference to a relevant peer-reviewed publication or practice guideline. Although it is intended that each practice examination paper be tackled under examination conditions in a 30-min block of time, the extensive index allows the more impatient reader to target specific areas for revision.
From a candidate’s perspective, the book is reasonably priced and pocket-sized, making it ideal for both strategic and “on-the-go” studying. It is well laid out, and the answers are comprehensive and form a good learning tool. This sheds some light on the best technique for correctly answering SBAs, an art in itself and best learned through practice. The most useful aspect of the book is that the questions are up to date, and the authors cite recent published recommendations and clinical guidelines. The level of difficulty of the questions is perhaps a little greater than SBAs appearing in current final FRCA examinations, but nevertheless it is a very useful asset for revision and is highly recommended.
Emira Kursumovic M.B., B.S., Joseph E. Arrowsmith, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.A., F.F.I.C.M. Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom (J.E.A.).