Chapter 2: The FRCEM OSCE

Overview of the FRCEM OSCE

Page 15 of the regulation pack gives a blueprint of the types of stations covered in the FRCEM OSCE (see below).

At the time of writing (March 2021) this is currently a virtual OSCE, with 12 rather than 14 stations, and all being of 8 minutes duration (i.e no double resuscitation stations). Further details can be found here. There is a possibility that subsequent FRCEM OSCE sittings may follow the hybrid MRCEM OSCE examination format, however, the exams section of the RCEM website states the May 2021 FRCEM OSCE sitting is ‘online’.

OSCE Stations

  1. Core Acute
  2. Resuscitation (double station in face to face)
  3. Core Major
  4. Common competencies
  5. Common competencies
  6. Anaesthetic competencies
  7. Paediatric resuscitation (double station in face to face)
  8. Paediatric Acute
  9. Paediatric Major
  10. HST Major
  11. HST and Adult Acute
  12. Practical skills
  13. Paediatric practical skills
  14. Non technical skills

Courses and books


There are limited resources for the ‘Final FRCEM’, but other books are available covering the MRCEM OSCE.

Tips and tricks

Preparing for the OSCE

  • Spend time looking into how you revise best. If you are someone who needs cribs sheets and repetition don’t underestimate the time this takes.
  • Review current OSCE advice regarding stations and whether virtual, face-to-face or hybrid.
  • Buddy up with colleagues who are reliable and you don’t mind looking silly in front of. 
  • Get hold of old mark sheets, buy a book and/or go on a course.
  • Use the experience of examiners in your hospital. Ask them to do practice OSCEs. You may need to ask more than once (don’t give in!)
  • A lot of marks can be obtained from a good opening and closure. Developing a standard ‘patter’ will help you maximise those easy to get marks.
  • Practise, practise, practise. Time keeping is something people often fall down on. 

Examination day

The Environment

Regardless of the format, you will have:

  1. Candidate registration (acceptable form of ID needed – typically passport or driving licence. Hospital ID is not normally considered acceptable)
  2. Candidate briefing
  3. The OSCE

Don’t forget

  • Eat and drink
  • Toilet break
  • Scrubs


  • Before the exam: ensure reliable internet connection, look at RCEM device specification requirements, attend the pre briefing and practise how to navigate the system.
  • On the day: make sure you are in a quiet environment with good lighting. Log in ahead of time, know your candidate number as you are asked on every station.   
  • Headphones with a microphone are recommended.

Test Centre

  • Plan how you are getting there, ensure that you have plenty of time and the correct identification.  


  • Each station will have a description of the scenario and what will be expected.
  • The allocation of marks is displayed as a pie chart.
  • Read the pie chart carefully AND answer what it asks, not what you want it to ask.
  • If you feel lost, stop, you can always ask for or say you want  to look at the pie chart. 
  • Remember there are no sudden death stations. If one doesn’t go well try to put a line under the sand, easier said than done I know!

The Virtual OSCE

Twelve stations – no double stations, all of 8 minutes duration, no rest stations.

Three IT platforms have previously been used in the running of the OSCE: 

Previously a Q+A session has been run leading up to the OSCE to introduce candidates to the different IT platforms and answer any questions about the running of the exam. It is strongly advised you attend this. For those who can’t attend, it is normally  recorded to allow viewing at a later date.

  • There is a FRCEM remote OSCE video demonstration that can be found here

A demo page for the OSCE platform is usually accessible to allow candidates to practice logging on/off, viewing ‘assets’ (pie chart, vignette and any investigation results) and moving between stations. 

Once the OSCE has started you are instructed to log into your first station, you will then be:

  • Asked your candidate number
  • Told when your reading time (pie charts and any assets) has started
  • Told when the station has started
  • Told if applicable, when your summing up time has started – this is normally the mental health station
  • Told when your time has finished
  • Asked to move virtually onto the next station

The Face to Face OSCE

Traditionally 14 stations – two being double ‘resus’ stations, there are also normally two rest stations

Candidates are briefed together.                                                                                      

  • Candidates are placed  outside their first station 
  • A bell will ring informing you of the start of your reading time
  • Another bell will ring signalling the start of the station
  • Depending on the scenario the examiner may ask you to present your findings or say nothing with the ending of the station being signalled by another bell. 
  • You will then be directed onto each further station until the exam is complete.                                                                       

Cite this article as: Trudie Pestell, "Chapter 2: The FRCEM OSCE," in St.Emlyn's, March 23, 2021,

Translate »