Passing the GPhC exam isn't easy, so don't be afraid to ask for help
Preparing for the registration exam can be a tricky business, says Zhyar Said – but there’s no shame in seeking extra support if you need it
I personally do not believe that passing the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) registration exam is a target out of reach for any student who has already passed the MPharm degree.
Not achieving the desired results is by no means a direct reflection of your intellect; you may just need some extra assistance and guidance – something that is never frowned upon in the world of pharmacy.
First of all, congratulations to any trainee pharmacist who has just passed the GPhC exam. Perhaps you can pass on this information to a future trainee or a friend in need!
Failing is never easy – I know this with first-hand experience. It may sound cliché, but it was my failures that taught me exactly what not to do again and streamlined my revision method, allowing me to go from thinking I’d never get through a year of university without a resit to getting 100% in my calculations paper.
When I reached out to survey trainees who didn’t pass June's GPhC exam, I noticed that there were three main things that may have hampered them:
1. Not practicing enough questions in timed conditions
Many candidates who didn’t pass omitted this part of their preparation for the exam. You must cover a large number of practice questions to build up confidence in applying knowledge to questions.
2. Not writing your own notes
Yogi Bhajan once said: “If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.” This is a principle that has never failed me.
For the GPhC examination, it is not enough to simply read somebody else’s notes. You must write out your own to ensure you have understood the content. The exam is not an exercise in regurgitation, and therefore simply learning without understanding the content is not enough.
3. Not asking for help
Put your pride to the side. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Though I have trained thousands of trainee pharmacists, I also encounter quite a lot of people who don’t want help. This is perfectly fine if you know what it is that you need to do to pass the exam. It is not the best idea if you do not know what to do to get there on your own.
A major reason for avoiding help may be due to the cost attached – maybe help comes in the form of a course or private tuition. But if you feel that you really do not understand what is going on, it is better for your own outcomes to just ask for help.
On an additional note, most paid-for help is more economical than losing months of salary you would have earned if you’d joined the register.
Sometimes, you may not need to ask for help in an educational sense. You may have other issues in your personal life that need to be addressed. There are multiple support groups, including but not limited to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and Pharmacist Support, as well as general wellbeing support services including Samaritans (116 123), emergency services (999) or your local GP.
Why am I pointing these things out? It goes back to my opening statement of not believing that passing this exam is out of reach for anyone who has passed their MPharm. You may need to just take some time to reflect on what you need to do and what to avoid for the next sitting.
Take some time to process the news. You have plenty of time until the next sitting – and remember, you’re not starting from scratch. Statistically, you are very likely to become a pharmacist, just with a bit of fine tuning, and taking positive steps towards smashing out your next attempt.
If this was your last attempt, you can still apply for a variety of jobs – remember, you have a Masters degree.
Zhyar Said is a healthcare analyst and the owner of a trainee pharmacist educational platform Revise Pharma, which you can also follow on Instagram @Revise_Pharma