The petition – launched on Wednesday (July 11) by a pre-reg trainee who wishes to remain anonymous – claims that pharmacy students are “being set up to fail” because of the repeatedly “unsuitable” assessments.
It also claims there was “great uproar” after the most recent assessment “due to the GPhC setting exam papers that were not suited for aspiring pharmacists”.
Speaking to C+D yesterday (July 12), the author – who sat the exam on June 28 – said: “It was more suited to pharmacists who had been working for many years and have [a lot] of experience behind them.”
Other issues reported include the exam not testing all areas of the GPhC’s registration assessment framework, with questions on “new, unexpected areas” instead, and it being “completely different” to the mock exams students sat in preparation, the petition claims.
“Some of the framework topics weren’t even assessed and there were barely any community [pharmacy] questions,” the author told C+D.
The wording of the questions was “ambiguous”, “misleading” and “confusing”, they added.
The author told C+D they were “taken aback” that more than 900 people have signed the petition already.
The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) – which collates feedback from students after each exam – stressed to C+D that the petition is not affiliated with the organisation and “it is more beneficial to get the opinion of [every] individual rather than using a template which only encompasses the opinion of its author”.
The deadline to submit feedback to the BPSA on the June assessment was Wednesday.
“If any of the points raised in the petition have also been sent through our official feedback channels, then this information will form part of our report and be provided to the GPhC,” the BPSA said.
The GPhC told C+D it had responded to the issues raised by the BPSA about last year's exam in a council report in September, and confirmed that it will be meeting the BPSA to discuss feedback on the June 2018 exam.
“Concerns not taken into account”
It is not the first time students have raised concerns around the exam. A petition triggered by the perceived difficulty of the September 2016 assessment garnered almost 700 signatures, with some students threatening to protest. The pass rate of the exam was the lowest in five years, at 41%.
Last year, a lack of time, desk space and adequate preparation topped complaints about June's pre-reg exam, according to the BPSA.
The latest petition's author told C+D: “It is actually quite shocking that this isn’t the only year [students] have felt the same. If [the GPhC] had really taken on the feedback [from previous year’s], this year’s paper would’ve been a lot different and the complaints wouldn’t have been the same.”