The results of the June pre-registration assessment were published on Friday and revealed a pass rate of 72%, the lowest since the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) took over responsibility for the assessment in 2011.
When asked by C+D about the reason for the low pass rate, the GPhC said it “expects there to be variation in the pass rate, as no two cohorts are the same”.
The full analysis of the June registration assessment will be discussed at its council meeting in September, although this meeting will not include information about pass rates per exam location, the GPhC said.
While the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) said it cannot comment on the pass rate, feedback from students who sat the exam was presented in a report by the BPSA to the GPhC on July 16.
The representative body identified “regular trends” from the feedback received, which it said consisted mostly of “concerns regarding paper two of the assessment”.
Of the 2,953 candidates who sat the exam, 166 (5.6%) sent feedback to the BPSA.
Some of the issues that students complained about included the environment in which they sat the exam, amendments to questions during the exam and ambiguity of content.
Students who sat the exam in Aintree, Liverpool experienced a fire alarm and had to evacuate the premises, while candidates who sat the exam at the Excel centre in London complained of “birds flying around the assessment hall”.
The GPhC confirmed that there was an unplanned fire alarm in the Aintree exam centre, but said “past experience shows that even if a centre is affected in some way, candidate performance is not”.
The full feedback report can be read here.
“More hospital-themed than community”
The majority of feedback received by the BPSA related to the papers themselves, with 136 students providing feedback on paper one, and 148 commenting on paper two.
Paper one was criticised for not being varied enough, for timing being insufficient and for question amendments being made throughout both papers.
The second paper received “little to no positive feedback”, according to the BPSA, with 100 respondents finding that the paper did not “reflect the registration assessment framework”.
Some respondents said the second paper was “more hospital-themed than community, with a lack of over-the-counter and law and ethics questions”, while some questions were said to be “incomparable to practice”, ambiguous or worded in a complex way.
The resource pack was also found to be too large by the majority of respondents, and the exam itself received negative feedback from some candidates for being a “test of speed, rather than a test of clinical knowledge”.
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