FRCEM Final SBA: The ultimate guide for Doctors

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The FRCEM SBA is the penultimate step towards the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) fellowship. In this guide, we explain the eligibility for applying, exam style, what to read, how to prepare for FRCEM SBA, how to apply, and more.

Fellowship of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (FRCEM) is a postgraduate award from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine for specialists in Emergency Medicine. Doctors can obtain fellowships by passing their MRCEM exams and FRCEM exams alongside the appropriate emergency medicine training. It would usually take a doctor a minimum of 8 years including foundation training to obtain FRCEM.  If you are looking for more information on the clinical exam, you can review our OSCE guide.

All you need to know about FRCEM SBA

Why do Doctors get FRCEM?

Fellows of the RCEM are distinguished consultants or specialty doctors who are able to use the FRCEM postnominal. FRCEM is highly regarded among clinicians and having this on your CV will showcase your abilities and make your CV stand out. You will also have access to support, education, resources, training, and conferences to keep your emergency medicine knowledge and skills up to date. The fellowship exams are adapted to the curriculum and form basic tests and knowledge, so it is advised that all CESR and CCT applicants complete all parts of FRCEM.

Who can sit FRCEM exams?

The FRCEM exam is open to doctors who have MRCEM and have completed at least 12 months in a UK or Irish training programme in emergency medicine at ST4/ST5 level.  Non-trainees must have completed 6 years of training post-qualification, 4 years of which must be in emergency medicine and 1 year should be at a level above ST3/SHO.

Are you looking for information on MRCEM?

You can read more about preparing for your membership to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in our MRCEM preparation guides; MRCEM Primary, MRCEM intermediate SBA, and MRCEM OSCE.



The FRCEM SBA is the penultimate step towards the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) fellowship. In this guide, we explain the eligibility for applying, exam style, what to read, how to prepare, how to apply, and more.

What is the format of the exam?

The FRCEM SBA examination consists of 180 SBA questions presented across two papers each lasting two hours. An hour’s break is provided in the middle of the exam. This means you will need to complete 2 x 90 SBA questions over 120 minutes each.

How much does it cost?

At the time of writing this article, the price of FRCEM SBA exam is as follows: 

•             FRCEM SBA - £345

This price may be subject to change in the future.

How do I register?

Candidates must apply for the exam online, during the published application window. Applications will open at 10.00 am on the morning of the application opening date listed on the Exam Calendar and close automatically at 5.00 pm (UK time) on the listed closing date. Applications must be completed before 5.00 pm on the closing date, late applications will not be accepted.

There is normally no restriction on the number of places available for FRCEM SBA, but candidates may not always be allocated their first choice of venue.

Am I eligible to apply for FRCEM SBA?

The FRCEM SBA exam is open to candidates who have MRCEM after 2012. Candidates are required to have a certain level of experience depending on their training. Doctors in a UK or Irish training programme need to have completed 12 months of training in Emergency Medicine at ST4-ST5 grade. Non-trainees need to have completed 6 years of training post-qualification, 4 years of that should be in emergency medicine, and at least one year at a level above ST3/SHO. Candidates can sit the FRCEM SBA and FRCEM OSCE in any order.


Discover your next job today 

Make the move that's right for you. At A&E Agency, we're part of many major NHS frameworks and have strong relationships with private healthcare providers, meaning our doctors have access to thousands of jobs across the UK.   

Apply today



How can I prepare for FRCEM SBA?

Curriculum Preparation

Similar to the preparation for MRCEM, it’s important to digest the curriculum being tested so that you can road map the areas you need to study and make sure you don’t spend time on areas that won’t be included in the exam.

RCEM FRCEM Final Examinations Information Pack – includes SLO blueprint

RCEM 2021 Curriculum

The FRCEM SBA examination is blueprinted against the 2021 Emergency Medicine curriculum. Not all of the SLOs are covered in every exam so it’s important to understand which SLOs are covered in FRCEM SBA to plan your revision. Candidates should refer to the key capabilities and descriptors for each SLO assessed in the examination. The clinical syllabus will be sampled throughout FRCEM SBA. The syllabus categories and descriptor highlights are explained against each SLO as a revision aid. The blueprint for the FRCEM SBA is as follows:

• SLO 1 - 35 questions

Care for physiologically stable patients attending the ED across the full range of complexity.

• SLO 3 - 40 questions

Resuscitate and stabilise patients in the ED, knowing when it is appropriate to stop

• SLO 4 - 35 questions

Care for injured patients across the full range of complexity.

• SLO 5 - 30 questions.

Care for children of all ages, at all stages of development, and children with complex needs.

• SLO 6 - 13 questions

Proficiently deliver key procedural skills needed in Emergency Medicine.

• SLO 7 - 10 questions

Deal with complex or challenging situations in the workplace.

• SLO 8 - 7 questions in total to cover SLO 8 and SLO 12

Lead the ED shift.

• SLO 12 - 7 questions in total to cover SLO 8 and SLO 12

Manage, administer, and lead.

• SLO 10 - 10 questions in total to cover SLO 10 and SLO 11

Participate in research and manage data appropriately.

• SLO 11 - 10 questions in total to cover SLO 10 and SLO 11

Participate in and promote activities to improve the quality and safety of patient care.

TOP TIP – Make sure you follow the RCEM 2021 curriculum and go through the sub-topics, not just the umbrella of SLO. It’s easy to forget that research is included now so whilst only 10 questions, don’t forget to look at that.


You must pass FRCEM SBA and FRCEM OSCE within 7 years of each other. Candidates can sit FRCEM SBA and FRCEM OSCE in any order.

Previous candidates have said this exam is very tricky with a higher standard and more “trick questions” where familiarity with the national guidelines is required. Understanding the basic principles is not enough to get you through FRCEM SBA. At least 6 months of preparation time mapping and understanding the curriculum, completing question banks, and timed practice is advised to be in with the best chance of passing this exam on your first sitting.

Reading and resources 

In August 2021, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine changed the FRCEM examination components and mapped each element to the RCEM curriculum. Due to this there still isn’t a high volume of FRCEM SBA revision available based on the FRCEM 2021 curriculum. We have searched emergency medicine forums, groups and discussed tips with candidates who sat the exam since August 2021, to bring you the best tried and tested resources for FRCEM SBA.

RCEM learning

RCEM Learning is the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s (RCEM) e-learning platform and the number one cited resource for revising all of the topics in preparation for FRCEM SBA. Previous candidates have said the content of the exam is well represented by the modules of RCEM learning. One account mentioned images from the online modules had even appeared in the exam. Whilst the structure of the exam is SBA, it can be beneficial to study the SAQ and SLO sections as well. The topics in these are the same just presented in a different way, this can help you get a grasp of the topics and principles. 

RCEM guidelines

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) has clinical guidelines available for professionals working in emergency medicine. In particular, the NICE, SIGN, BTS, and GMC guidelines are mentioned as coming up in the exam, so it is recommended to know all of the main guidelines in preparation for FRCEM SBA. As you are learning these you could populate your portfolio at the same time.

Bromley Emergency Courses

Bromley Emergency Courses is frequently cited as a leading resource for doctors completing their FRCEM exams. Bromley Emergency Courses send all candidates two practice papers in advance of the course. You will complete these two papers before the course starts and then they will be discussed in detail on the first day, with in-depth discussions on why each answer is the correct one. You will also complete a third paper, which will be unseen, on the first day. On day two you will complete papers 4 and 5 as interactive quizzes before sitting paper 6 under timed, exam-like conditions. Those who booked the course also get free access to their online FRCEM SBA practice quizzes


SBAs for the FRCEM by Dr. Tom Jaconelli published by Cambridge University Press and released in September 2022. This has been cited as accurately reflecting the content and standard of FRCEM SBA.

Moussa Issa books and eBooks have been recommended, however only SLO6 is currently available. Dr. Moussa Issa and his team apologise for the delay in publishing the new editions of the FRCEM books. However, they are determined to do everything necessary to complete the remaining work on the books by the end of 2023.

Practice Exam

In the run-up to the exam, you should revise previous exam questions and topics as you will have with the MRCEM exams. Practicing under timed conditions is beneficial to give you the experience and confidence to get through 90 questions in 120 minutes.


Top tips for revision 

  1. Making your own SBA questions is a good way of consolidating things you don’t know, and you can share this information with your study partners. 
  2. Make sure you follow the RCEM 2021 curriculum and go through the sub-topics, not just the umbrella of SLO.
  3. Make sure you have read all the national guidelines, along with SIGN, BTS, NICE, and even GMC. If you work through RCEM learning you can enjoy populating your portfolio at the same time.
  4. Have a study partner with whom you can review small topics together like Dermatology and Ophthalmology.

At A&E Agency, we’re passionate about the quality of our people and proud of the services we provide. You can arrange a call with a member of the team to discuss your career by registering today with A&E Agency. Our team are here to help doctors find great work opportunities in the UK. If you are a doctor and looking for Emergency Medicine locum or permanent opportunities, you can browse our A&E vacancies.


Register for job opportunities 

You're not just a doctor, you're a specialist. Our team offers doctors a personal service throughout the recruitment process. Register today to stay up to date with all the latest job opportunities.  

Register today