In an announcement to employers, training providers, tutors and trainees this afternoon (March 12), the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) confirmed that the summer registration assessment will take place over three days – July 27,28 and 29 – and that the autumn exam has been pushed back to November 16.
While the summer and autumn assessments usually take place in June and September, “these dates in July and November are the earliest available where Pearson VUE test centres can accommodate the predicted number of candidates under the current social distancing guidelines”, the GPhC said.
“Although social distancing rules may be less restrictive by the time of the sittings, this is not guaranteed, and it is important that we are able to offer a place to all candidates who are eligible to sit,” it added.
The social distancing guidelines in place at Pearson VUE centres means capacity is “greatly reduced”, but holding the summer assessment over three days “will increase the opportunity for candidates to find a test centre place near to them”, the GPhC said.
The regulator came under fire ahead of next week’s registration exam, after some candidates claimed they would have to travel hundreds of miles to sit the assessment.
“Candidates on each of the three days will sit a different paper, but we would emphasise that number and types of questions, and the standard required to pass will not change,” the GPhC explained.
Extension to provisional register
The delayed assessments mean the earliest possible date that candidates who pass in the summer can join the register will be September 15 and for those who pass the autumn exam, January 15 2022.
In recognition of the impact this will have on trainees, provisionally registered candidates and employers, who have been expecting newly qualified pharmacists to join the register from August, the GPhC has agreed to extend the provisional registration of pharmacists to January 2022.
This will “enable trainees from the 2020/21 cohort to apply to join the provisional register once their training is satisfactorily completed, so that they can take up offers of employment at the same time as they usually would”, the regulator said.
“This will also allow current provisionally-registered pharmacists who do not feel fit to sit in March, and decide to sit in the summer or autumn instead, to continue working in their current roles until they receive their registration assessment results,” the GPhC added.
The regulator stressed that candidates “should only take the assessment if they are confident they are ‘fit to sit’”.
“The extension of provisional registration gives candidates important options,” the GPhC said.
“Hugely valuable contribution”
Duncan Rudkin, GPhC chief executive, said: “Pre-registration pharmacy trainees who have been completing their training during the last 12 months, including those who have gone on to join the provisional register, have risen to the challenge of dealing with a range of unprecedented circumstances.
“They have made a hugely valuable contribution to providing pharmacy series and delivering patient care during the pandemic, in all areas of pharmacy practice, and we are grateful for all the work they have done.”
He acknowledged that pushing the assessments back will have an impact on pre and prov-regs and employers, but “the pandemic continues to be a significant factor in the logistics of holding assessment sittings and has meant that earlier dates are simply not feasible”.
“We regret any challenges this may cause and we hope that extending provisional registration will help mitigate these challenges for trainees and employers,” he added.
The GPhC is “committed to learning from candidates about the forthcoming March assessment and are working with Pearson VUE to improve candidates’ experience of sitting the assessment”, Mr Rudkin said.
Are you due to sit the registration assessment? Listen to top tips for passing the exam from Luso Kumwenda, CEO of the Focus Pre-Reg Revision platform, in the podcast below.