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GPhC responds to record low June pre-reg exam results

The regulator will discuss the "full analysis" of the exam at its council meeting in September
The regulator will discuss the "full analysis" of the exam at its council meeting in September

The GPhC “expects variation” in registration assessment pass rates, it has told C+D in response to record low exam results for June.

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”.

How did you do in the exam? Listen to C+D’s podcasts to learn what you should do next.

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Do you agree with any of the complaints raised about the exam?

R T, Manager

Dont think interruptions are appropriate in an exam. All test centres should be operated the same as much as possible.

But the exam is solid generally. Won't we ever address the unfairness and discrimination being experienced by british university studying students who are penalised by doing an incredibly hard gphc pre reg exam while year by year, EU pharmacists are allowed to fill in a form and do some work experience and then are added on the register? It's better for any student here to go over to the EU and study and qualify there and then fill in the application form to jump on the register here in the UK.

Conditions of getting onto the pharmacist register need to be fair for everyone and currently, this is a discriminatory system.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Interruptions are part and parcel of being a pharmacist. If they can't cope with a few sparrows in an exam hall, they will never cope with the day to day reality of being a pharmacist. A much more realistic examination process would be to have it in the middle of a working dispensary.

As for 'test of speed, rather than a test of clinical knowledge' - welcome to retail pharmacy!

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

Wonder what you'll then say about thousands of overseas pharmacist who not only have to complete their home country degree but also do IELTs minimum pass 7 accross all 4 test areas in one sitting a one year conversion course at significant cost then do a one year prereg then write the prereg exam then face some pretty insurmounatble visa hurdles then finally get on the register only to find EU pharmacists accepting £17/hr per shift with very bad English language abilities and totally wrecking the industry

R T, Manager

Be interesting to see how many students studied @ UCLAN

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Why about Uclan?

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

[I recant my statement on UCLAN following advice from my solicitor]

R K, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I sat the June exam.. it was a lot easier than I was expecting. Maybe one question I can think was a bit ambiguous and there were only 2 amendments in questions announced during the exam. One of them didn't affect the question at all as it was clear what the question was asking .. the other one I cant remember ... I wouldn't say it was hospital bias either .. and I worked in community.. 5.6% is not representative at all..

K M, Student

Maybe the 5.6% have worked in hospital all their life and never set foot in a community pharmacy. I felt exactly the same as you.

A N, Community pharmacist

It reflects community pharmacy today. this is the enviroment we have to work everyday, fast, not birds but patients come and go, phone rings and even the firealarm is real. 

Paul Summerfield, Community pharmacist

Also, is a 5.6% response rate really representative?

Paul Summerfield, Community pharmacist

It is about being able to sift through the vast volumes of information in front of you and then homing in on the most appropriate information or chossing the most appropriate source. It does not matter if the resource pack is "too big". 

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

But isn't every day in Pharmacy a combination of speed (ie answering queries promptly and without undue delay) and knowledge?

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

How do you mean querries ? I only get asked if one can have two packs of co-codamol with the already purchased sleep aid to which I ....wait for it ...always clear my throat, look pained and reply; unfortunatly no./..everytime

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Good point

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