Chapter 1 – The FRCEM Single Best Answer (SBA)

Overview of the SBA

We are officially out with the old; the SAQ, and in with the new!

The first sitting of the SBA took place on the 28th September 2021. Anything listed in the 12 speciality learning outcomes can be tested. Pages 9-11 of the 2021 regulation pack provide a blueprint of the marks in the SBA paper mapped to the 2021 RCEM curriculum. The resources page of the RCEM curriculum website has released a podcast covering the SBA, and can be found here. Sample questions can be found on the RCEM learning website

The SBA paper consists of 180 multiple choice questions. This is presented as two 90 minute question papers with two hours allowed for each paper.

It can assess anything listed in the 12 specialty learning outcomes.

Tips and tricks


  • Give yourself enough time – for me that was six months of little and often but everyone is different.
  • Focus on high yield areas by using the blueprint found on pages 9-11 of the regulations pack
  • Share the load and buddy up.
  • Go on a course, use a question bank or book.
  • Time goes quicker than you think – timed practice is crucial!

On the day

  • The SBA  will be online at home or at a test centre – think carefully about the pros/cons of each.
  • GENERIC: eat; drink and toilet break before.
  • HOME: quiet environment; good lighting; reliable internet connection; look at RCEM device specification requirements; log in ahead of time. 
  • TEST CENTRE: plan how you are getting there; ensure plenty of time and  correct identification.  
  • Pace yourself.
  • The exam is divided into two halves – for the SAQ once the first paper was complete you were unable to go back. It is not clear whether this will still be the case for the SBA.
  • Read the question carefully AND answer what it asks, not what you want it to ask.
  • No negative marks – give every question a go!
  • A ‘flag’ function exists for those questions you think you may want to revisit/haven’t answered.
  • Guidance for those who feel they may be eligible for reasonable adjustments (March 2021) can be found here.

Courses and other resources

I went on the RCEM final SAQ preparation course and I found it a really useful 2 days, spent with College examiners giving advice about exam technique, why people fail and common themes that come up, so hopefully they will do the same for the SBA.

Resources for the SBA are starting to appear, for example the Bromley SBA Course and FRCEM Mentor Course (I have no conflict of interest to declare). We will add resources here as we become aware of them.

Collated Resources

In this section you will find  a collation of links useful not only for the SBA but also for the OSCE. It is divided into adult and paediatric sections, with each area broadly divided by specialties. NICE guidelines are found in the first half of each speciality with other guidelines, for example RCEM; BTS in the second half. The links are regularly checked to ensure they still work and are current.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) recently released a pdf document that contains links to the latest NICE; SIGN and RCPCH guidelines, it can be found here

A number of the topics are relevant to both adult and paediatric EM. These will be found in the adult section.

  • It is assumed that you all will have access to ALS/APLS /NLS/ATLS/ETC resources. Specific links for these have not been included.

Adult Guidelines

Paediatric Guidelines

Other resources: Adult and Paediatric

Cite this article as: Trudie Pestell, "Chapter 1 – The FRCEM Single Best Answer (SBA)," in St.Emlyn's, March 21, 2021,

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