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How many GPhC exam candidates nullified their June 2022 attempt?

Fewer than one percent of candidates who sat the June registration assessment requested to have their attempt nullified following a controversial exam that saw many complain of delays and chaotic examination conditions, C+D can reveal.

A total of 2,697 candidates sat the online registration assessment on June 29, with 80% scoring a passing mark, the GPhC and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announced last week (July 29).

But of these, only 23 asked the regulator to nullify their sitting, a GPhC spokesperson confirmed to C+D yesterday (August 4).

It follows widespread discontent over problems some candidates faced during the sitting, which lead to protests outside the GPhC’s offices in Canary Wharf, east London, last month (July 14).

Read more: 'People’s lives have been affected': Trainees on the impact of GPhC exam chaos

The regulator was unable to confirm to C+D the number of appeals it has received after notifying candidates of their results.

“The appeal deadline is August 22, and therefore we would be able to provide figures for numbers of appeals in September once we have finalised numbers,” the spokesperson said.

The GPhC is allowing candidates to appeal their results if they faced delays to sitting their exam or other "procedural errors" such as "screens repeatedly glitching or freezing", it revealed last month.

The passing mark for the June sitting marks a two percentage point drop on the summer 2021 exam, but a 19 percentage point increase on the pass rate recorded for the November 2021 assessment, which was just 61%.


Overall community pharmacy fail rate: 27.2%


The percentage of trainees who completed their trainee placement in a community pharmacy and passed the registration exam is lower than that for hospital trainees, additional GPhC data released last week revealed.

Of the 2,697 candidates, 1,557 had completed their training placement in a community pharmacy. Of these, 1,134 passed the exam, resulting in a pass rate of 72.8%.

Read more: What are the factors behind different GPhC exam pass rates by sector?

Meanwhile, a total of 658 candidates completed their placement in a hospital, with 594 successfully passing the exam and bringing the pass rate for that sector to 90.3%.

The pass rate for those completing their training year in both a hospital and GP setting also stood high at 93.5%, while for candidates who had chosen a community/GP training programme, it was 78.3%.

The June sitting was the second common registration assessment for all four UK countries, allowing for direct comparisons between each UK nation.

A total of 84.3% of candidates undertook their pre-registration training in England, with the country scoring the lowest pass rate of all four nations at 78.2%.

Candidates in Scotland achieved the highest pass rate with 88.7%, while candidates in Wales and Northern Ireland achieved 88.3% and 83.5% respectively.


“There is not a fixed pass mark of 70%”


To pass, candidates must have scored 24 out of 40 questions in paper 1 and 80 out of 119 questions in paper 2. Marks cannot be added up between papers.

A spokesperson for the GPhC told C+D that its board of assessors – who set and “quality assure” the papers – uses an assessment method “in which the pass mark is based on the difficulty of papers and can vary between papers”.

Therefore, “if detailed statistical analysis shows that either of the papers are more difficult than the papers in previous years, the pass mark will be lowered to the appropriate level to make sure that the standard across different years is the same”, they added.

“Contrary to some comments seen, there is not a fixed pass mark of 70%,” they said.

“All marking is anonymous and the board of assessors does not know where any candidate sat or what attempt they were undertaking during the mark-awarding process,” the spokesperson added.

C+D understands that further details about the pass marks for each paper will be released later next month.


How does the June 2021 pass rate compare with previous June pass rates?


The graph below shows the percentage of candidates who passed the June exam each year between 2011 and 2022. Please note that no June assessment was held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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