The pass rates for June's registration exam was the lowest since the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) became responsible for the assessment in 2010, the regulator has revealed.
Of the 2,811 students who sat the exam this year, 74% passed - compared with 85% in June 2014 - the GPhC announced last week (July 24).
The second lowest pass rate for the June sitting recorded by the GPhC was 78% in 2013, when the regulator introduced its new-look exam.
The June exam usually has a higher pass rate than the September sitting, which usually has a higher proportion of candidates sitting it for the third time.
The GPhC also revealed wide discrepancies in pass rates between candidates from different sectors who took the exam for the first time in June this year. While 91% of the 675 hospital candidates passed, this figure was just 71% for the 1,944 community pharmacy candidates.
In response to a C+D query about the reason for the low pass rate, the GPhC said its board of assessors had "benchmarked the assessment against previous years to make sure that outcomes are fair and consistent". It would present an analysis of the exam results to the board in September, it told C+D today (July 27).
The British Pharmaceutical Students' Association (BPSA) presented a list of recommended changes to the registration exam to the GPhC earlier this month (July 13), following feedback from BPSA members. These included removing the use of double negatives from the exam and ensuring a balance of questions from all areas of the syllabus.
The regulator also told C+D it would "shortly" be publishing a response to the recommendations.
In November, the GPhC revealed it was investigating why only 61% of students passed the September 2014 exam.