By: 25 May 2012
Single Best Answer MCQs in Anaesthesia – Volume 2 (Basic Sciences)

Single Best Answer (SBA) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) were introduced first in to the Finals Written paper in September 2010 and then into the Primary MCQs in September 2011. This was following their introduction into the curriculum of most medical schools and subsequently into the exams for many of the other Royal Colleges. In both parts of the FRCA they make up a third of the MCQs, the remainder being the older style True/False MCQs. The principle behind the question is that there are five options, only one of which is correct and the candidate must identify which option best fits the scenario given. In some of the colleges they are known as best-of-fives (BOFs) for that reason.

The book itself is written by Cyprian Mendonca who is also the author of several other text books aimed at the FRCA exams and the Programme Director for the Coventry FRCA courses which have previously been well regarded by those who are sitting the Primary and Final alike. In this book he is joined by Mahesh Chaudhari who also co-authored the Volume 1 (Clinical Sciences) of the series and Arumugam Pitchiah in his first book.

The book is divided into six papers each of 30 questions followed by the answers with each answer including detailed feedback of the basic science involved. The papers are each a mixture of physiology, pharmacology, physics, measurement and statistics questions and provide coverage of most of the areas covered by the Primary FRCA.

At this time it is impossible to determine how well these questions will reflect the actual SBAs used by the College. There has, as yet, only been one primary exam that included any SBAs and those, along with those released by the College, are all that are currently available of the genuine question bank. In terms of my own experience the questions fairly well reflect the type of knowledge that makes up the Primary, however my experience is of the old style questions and so may not reflect the new style of exam. It is also impossible to be sure whether the difficulty matches that of the actual exam questions, however I would say that I found the questions requiring calculation to be very difficult for mental arithmetic. If they reflect what the College require then I hope they will be allowing candidates to bring calculators in future. My only other gripe would be the use of American spelling in a British exam.

I have found the book to be a useful reflection of the knowledge in the curriculum and covers the topics extensively making it a very useful revision aide towards the exams.