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Pass rate for contested September exam drops to 41%

The pass rate is the lowest for a September assessment since 2011

The pass rate for September's registration exam is the lowest in five years, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has revealed.

Just four in 10 students (41%) who sat the exam passed, compared with 64% of students who passed the September assessment last year, the regulator announced today (October 28).

Of the 660 candidates who sat the exam, just 269 passed, compared with 95% of students who passed the June sitting.

September's exam had already proven controversial before the results were released. Some students threatened to protest over the perceived difficulty of the two papers, while an online petition demanding the "traumatic" exam be reviewed garnered more than 600 signatures.

September's assessment marked the second sitting of the GPhC's revamped registration assessment, which it said would allow students to better demonstrate their clinical skills.

The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association met with the regulator to discuss the exam earlier this month. The GPhC’s board of assessors will meet with the BPSA in the future to discuss the exam further, it said in a report on the assessment , also published today.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin congratulated those who passed the exam. The assessment is an important “tool” to make sure that only students who will be able to practice “safely and effectively” become qualified pharmacists, he stressed.

Why was the pass rate so low?

The GPhC’s board of assessors pointed out that the September sitting of the exam tends to have a lower pass rate in general because more students are taking it for the second or third time

Students taking the September sitting because they failed the exam in June may not have improved much over the three-month period, it noted. The board will monitor this trend in the future to see whether changing the dates of the exams could benefit students, it said.

The board also suggested that September’s cohort appeared to be have performed “significantly weaker” on the calculations paper than students in June. This could suggest why some did not manage to complete the paper last month, it added.

However, it refuted the BPSA’s suggestion that that it should review the amount of time students are given to complete the second part of the exam. There is “no verifiable evidence” suggesting that the time allocated was “inappropriate”, it stressed.

How have September pass marks changed?


Pass rate















What do you make of the results?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Could we just unleash Han and Mehmet on this one then sit back and watch the show? Might be fun. We'd probably learn a few insulting phrases to mutter to customers when they aren't listening, at least.....

Mehmet Fopal, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Throw in a few of yours and sharon's rambling jibes and we could be on our way to an oscar winning comedy.


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I never ramble. I leave that to you and yours.

I have to agree with you on one thing though. Han Solo is a xenophobe and to be truthful a bit embarrassing to have in the profession.

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Lucky Ex Locum

"Xenophobe" So asking foreign graduates to prove themselves to be above and beyond what we already have here is xenophobic....even though other countries ask foreign grads to do the same?? *Sigh*

…and you complain about the oversupply deary me.

The only embarrassment to the profession are pharmacists (not highlighting you here btw) who allowed this over supply to happen in the first place with far lefty relaxed views and an open register to the world are the prime culprits if you ask me.

We’re not afraid of words like “xenophobe” “Racist” anymore, these far lefty trump cards won’t work anymore. Trump’s victory over in the US should show you that there are a lot of us and you will be seeing more and more of us openly.

No one has an issue with nationality or race, everybody is fine to practice as a pharmacist here in the UK, however now that we have an oversupply it now makes no sense for us to have an additional surplus from the EU and the rest of the world whilst our own tax funded grads are now facing a 40% pass rate.

Jaz Kaur, Pharmacy

Hey,  why none of your B*** S*** on the other articles ????

Shendo Mclean, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Really it's just a case of fiscal responsibility

R T, Manager

We shouldn't blame anybody but ourselves. We're unwilling to do the things that need to be done to protect our profession. Because we direct our efforts to the wrong targets (companies instead of the gphc) or we're afraid to bring about change. So let's just get used to the way things are. 

Alan WHITEMANN, Communications

Han Solo

You say the GPhC wants to recruit the best of the best.  Why would you argue against that although they probably realized the error of their ways after they had let you through. Yes , the others are correct, you are offensive and xenophobic. 

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Alan Whitemann

I am not arguing against the GPhC recruiting the best of the best. I'm all up for it. They are doing the right thing. I’m on the same side as them. If there is an effort to control numbers by recruiting the best of the best I’m with them. I would just like to suggest to them that penalising a home grown UK cohort isn’t the right way to go about it.

What I am against though, is a 40% pass rate, in fact I’m against any pass rate below 90%. If you add up the costs of educating a whole bunch of UK Mpharm grads and then look at the amount of tax wasted when the pass rate is below 90% its staggering. 

Using the exam to recruit the best of the best is still however penalising UK grads, as EU pharmacists don’t have to take an exam, and there is an entire generation of pharmacists that didn’t sit an exam or had easier exams before they got harder to take. You only had to do past papers and memorise answers to prepare for an exam back when the RPSGB did the assessment papers, we have a whole bunch who passed through those just by memorising limited bank questions.

Foreign graduates i.e. the EU and rest of the world must prove themselves to be above and beyond what we already have here in the UK cohorts. Yes they should sit a different exam system and it should be of greater difficulty. This is where the GPhC should be hunting for the best of the best more stringently.  I stand by this 100% 

UK grads would have to show themselves to be above and beyond what they produce in Canada to enter their register.

Australia only make exceptions for New Zealand Grads which is understandable and make all others take a separate set of examinations Stream A and B but I am no expert in Australian procedures. No special treatment for UK grads there either.

Here in the UK we have EU pharmacists getting on our register without an exam, and the rest of the word take the same exam as the UK cohort. Think about it.

Now you tell me Alan, are the Australians and Canadians “xenophobic” because they have a system that looks after their own grads first and make the rest of the world do a separate exam system?  Are the Canadians “xenophobic” because they make sure their pharmacy school admissions are Canadian only or permanent residents to their respective provinces?

Here are the facts Alan

Pharmacists are not a skill shortage or need here in the UK

We have an oversupply of our own UK graduates

Words like xenophobic are words that far lefty’s throw at you when they have no sensible answer or rebuttal to what you have for them. Their pompous self-entitlement and unwillingness to listen to others are their worst qualities, they shout words such as racist and xenophobic when they can’t get their own way and resort to personal attacks rather than make some valuable contribution. By the looks of things there are a few here on the C and D.

Only a few days ago we had comments on here where pharmacists were gloating at UK grads for their miserable state and “favoured harder exams” to filter their numbers, and were “encouraged” by the 40% pass rate. But now as hard arses like me turned up here and said, hang on….we need to make foreign grads sit harder exams here just like they do in other countries…they now are all reeling in retreat and are shivering wrecks who have resorted to thumb downing my comments because they don’t have anything to say in their own defence.  It’s funny how they change when the boot is on the other foot.

There is nothing racist or xenophobic about protecting your own UK grads and nobody with any sanity would oppose what I have suggested. We are probably the only developed country/profession that do not protect our own graduates or even ourselves.  There are two sides to every argument Alan, you can’t resort to shouting xenophobia racism where there is no such thing.

Mehmet Fopal, Pre-reg Pharmacist

It is xenophobia when you want to disrupt a free movement of skilled labour based on your hysteria that foreigners are taking your jobs.

There are currently 38,867 registered pharmacists in the UK of which 3500 are from the EU do the math einstein!


Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist


You clearly are not on board with the common sense lot. We already have a surplus of UK grads, Columbus. Why on earth would we want to encourage more surplus!

Where have i promoted this "Hysteria" that they are taking our jobs? No where. We already have more than enough UK cohorts to meet UK pharmacy needs hence does it help to have more surplus on top of that?

Xenophobia is defined as:  "dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries"

I do not dislike people from other countries and neither do I hold prejudices against people from other countries.

Free movement of skilled labour is itself detrimental to home grown work forces especially when the skilled labour is already in surplus supply! It is also detrimental to our tax payer who will see chronic wastage with the high failure rate that has been brought about thanks to a surplus.

"There are currently 38,867 registered pharmacists in the UK of which 3500 are from the EU do the math Einstein!"

Common-sense would tell you that out of the 38,867 registered pharmacists some of them will have been international grads and EU grads back when the UK did not have a surplus. I’m not against them at all. 

Yes the EU registrants are at about 3500, but I have not made an argument only against EU Pharmacists. I am including international grads in the surplus today.  EU Pharmacists dont sit an exam to get access to our register, when our tax funded uk grads have to. My point is about the now existing situation of surplus, protect UK grads first.

All I am saying is this, you simple minded fellow;

Right now we have a surplus, hence we need systems in place similar to Canada and Australia that places preference on UK grads first. R.O.I and Commonwealth realm grads can also come in with the UK cohort so I’m not saying UK only.

The rest i.e. the EU and rest of the world should have to sit a separate exam system and show themselves to be above and beyond what we have here to enter our register. They would have to do the same in other countries. No other country would do what we are doing. In fact they are protecting their own Pharmacy grads unlike us.

Why oh why can’t you see what I’m saying.

S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

You just go on and on.....boring.

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Dont reply and dont read the exchange then. Simple.

Mr V, Community pharmacist

That to be fair does make sense.

Mr V, Community pharmacist

That to be fair does make sense.

Sharon Stone, Communications

To Han Solo

I've pointed out to you before under the guise of Mehmet Fopal, that nobody particularly welcomes your contribution  because it gets personally offensive and your opinion is xenophobic as the other authors point out . Shaun , et al, are quite correct in their summation of you so if you are the coolest pharmacist in the galaxy as you profess to be,  pharmacy can expect to go into oblivion.

Mehmet Fopal, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Under the guise? Seriously sway away from that one track opinionated mind of yours! I have no issue with EU pharmacists! Infact judging by your string of assumptions in the past your no different to your xenophobic pal above.

Jaz Kaur, Pharmacy

Why, what she said about you ???    Just wondering what assumptions she's made in the past ???   

S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

We all know Space Monkey and Fopal are the same person.

Mehmet Fopal, Pre-reg Pharmacist

anything else that tickles your wild imagination? want to accuse me of being the reincarnation of polpot and hitlers dad too?? *rolls eyes*

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser


S Pessina, Pharmacist Director

To The Editor

I find the comments of Han Solo racist, insulting to fellow professionals and xenophobic. You surely can't continue  to entertain this person on your site ??  

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Banning EU pharmacists? That would be like reducing job applications from 50 per vacancy to 45 - irrelevant. EU pharmacists have a minor influence on the poor conditions experienced by UK pharmacists. 

If you want to know who is to blame for the mess we find ourselves in - look at yourself. UK pharmacists are a bunch of bedwetters who couldn't argue themselves out of a paper bag. Spineless, lower middle class deference is the cause of the decline of this profession. 

I agree, ban this xenophobic lowlife.



Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

Shaun      Well said fella, he has a go at everyone who doesn't agree with him .

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

No he doesn’t, he has a go at anyone who calls him a racist or xenophobe, even though proposing measures similar to Canada to protect UK grads here would be common sense. 

I take great offence to anybody who believes that Canada is a racist and xenophobic country if it takes measures to protect its own Pharmacy profession.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

Han Solo

What a Liar. ...... You had a go at Mr Dow & Ms Kaur who never called you a racist or xenophobe. Shaun was correct, you are a lowlife

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Sarah Smythe

Please find enclosed comments from Jaz Kaur calling me a "Xenophobe."

"Haha. wrong on all counts but wouldn't employ with your xenophobic outpourings, you are such a jobs worth...*this comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles

dated Monday 31/10/2016

Jaz Kaur also had her comment moderated for violating the principles of C and D. My My My very unprofessional. 

Please find enclosed Jaz Kaur's first comment addressed to me with personal attacks.

"And yours dummies and nappies for you. 

You could never elevate yourself to a professional.

An old quote that fits your profile  "You can take the person out of the gutter but you can't take the gutter out of the person." "

dated Sunday 30/10/2016

Now Sarah who's the liar now? .....uummmm don’t have a brain cramp...let me tell you, it’s you.

Then again how could we expect the truth from someone from Insurance...of course you would want an oversupply, how else would you sell insurance to an infinite number of people. God forbid you have to make an honest living. Never trust lawyers or Insurance sales men/women as they say.

Champagne socialists like you are the real low lives in this country and you are the reason the country is in the mess it's in...False socialist principles just so you can keep capitalising on vulnerable people who need insurance whilst at the same time create fictional xenophobia and race issues just to divide up people for votes and play them off against each other.

The other thing i don’t get is that Jaz Kaur believes that she is some kind of high born because if you don’t agree with her you come from a gutter apparently... 

The last time i checked, Sikhs were a bunch of low born peasants and untouchables who didn't want to be low caste Hindus anymore. If there were anyone here who’s ancestry came from the gutter it would most certainly be Jaz Kaur's. Better think twice before she implies that i come from the gutter....she certainly is no way near in comparison to the lords, earls and dukes in this country…especially when her ancestors toiled the high caste Hindu owned fields of India in their bare feet and were paid in bread crumbs.

Her gutter ancestry shows, she got her comment moderated due to the filth in it. Better go back to serfdom ey? Being a professional may not be for you Jaz kaur.

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Shaun Steren

*Sarcastic claps*

You clearly didn’t read any of my posts. Never have I suggested there should be a “complete ban on EU pharmacists” and neither did I make the EU pharmacists my case and point. I did not say they have a “major influence on our poor working conditions” – you’re making stuff up out of your backside and you are most likely one of those brainwashed far left students who have been convinced that the world is fine and dandy, and if you question anything with common-sense you are either a racist or a xenophobe….hopefully you’re intelligent enough to know what those words mean.

It doesn’t matter how you look at this pre-reg exam. You either subscribe to

Option 1 The exam is being used to control the pass rate

Option 2 The GPhC want to recruit the best of the best

It does not matter what option you subscribe to….both are very valid options but both have resulted because there is an oversupply of pharmacists and there is no great demand for them.

What I have said is simple. We have an oversupply of OUR OWN UK graduates, thus it does not help to have an additional surplus population of EU Pharmacists and pharmacy graduates from the Rest of the world.

This pre reg pass rate was extremely low and rather than penalise UK cohorts because there is a surplus of them which is the wrong thing to do, I strongly believe that Pharmacists from the EU and the rest of the world have to be above and beyond what we are already producing here in the UK if they wish to obtain access to our register. Therefore they should be subjected to a harder pre-registration exam or multiple exam paper system of greater difficulty and from them we should take the best of the best. Why not? UK grads would have to do the same to gain access to a register of another country, Canada being one of them.

It makes absolutely no sense what so ever to fail a large UK cohort, who have been funded by UK tax payers, unless you would like to foot the bill yourself.  £9000 a year for 4 years which makes £36000 just in tuition fees for one student, add on the maintenance grant etc. etc. and then multiply it by all UK students in total. New students are added on every year. This amounts to a lot of tax money and its incredibly expensive, tax that we pay as well by the way.  If you then look at a high failure rate that has hit the exams in recent years this represents an incredibly low return and a massive waste. At some point the UK tax payer is going to have to say there is no point in funding this education.  

An EU pharmacist does not have to sit an exam unlike a UK graduate. As far as I am concerned, they have an unjustified easier access to the register over a UK tax funded graduate and that to me is extremely unacceptable and I stand by it 110%.

Whether you like it or not, there will at some point have to be controls. Unless you would like a growing infinite number of Pharmacists on the UK register. This infinite number is what aids the fall in wages and the declining state of the profession. NOT the EU pharmacists alone. The GPhC recently released the number of EU pharmacists on the register and it was something over 3000, which is a LOT considering that pharmacy is a small world. The GPhC has not declared how many outside EU pharmacists there are on the register.  The issue here isn’t hostility to foreign grads you muppet, the issue here is clear, we have a surplus of our own and thus additional surplus does not help.

Other avenues of controls would be to cap student numbers, or cut down UK schools, they went to parliament and none were accepted.

What I proposed is no different to Canada, In fact it was more generous, and R.O.I and Commonwealth realm citizens could pass through along with UK cohorts. Canada does not even do that.

"UK pharmacists are a bunch of bedwetters" you definitely got that right! And you're one of them. People like me and people who give my posts a thumbs up are the only ones speaking and thinking common sense right now. And are the few actually thinking about UK grads. Pharmacists like you have completely trashed this profession with your self-righteous, know it all attitudes that the Far left tend to ingrain in impressionable minds.

Think clearly before you call someone a xenophobic lowlife.

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

Racism is a very big word to use without any can land you in legal hot water i must warn you. 

Protecting your own job market and UK graduates is not "Racist" or "Xenophobic" UK graduates come from all colours and creeds as do British citizens and tax payers. Citizens from commonwealth realms also come from all colours and creeds. We have to protect our own job market and UK graduates first.

Speaking of racism, first sort out your caste system, don’t come here and cry out "racism" where there is none.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I am pretty sure these comments will be deleted by the editor when he comes to work tomorrow.


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