How trainee pharmacists can be supported through the registration exam

Nadia Bukhari, chairwoman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society pre-registration panel, and panel member Oksana Pyzik, both from UCL School of Pharmacy, describe the support that trainees can access through RPS events.

Trainee pharmacists attend a revision course to prepare for their registration assessment

Preparing for the registration assessment can be a stressful time for trainee pharmacists, as those who completed the recent examination may attest. Many seek extra support to ensure they pass the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) test that determines their competence to practise safely.

In 2014, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) ran a series of mock examinations and revision courses to help its pre-registration associate members prepare. Nine two-day conferences took place in Brighton, Cardiff, Huddersfield, London and Nottingham from February to June 2014.

Pharmacists are required to have both specialist and general knowledge, which is reflected in the wide scope of the GPhC syllabus. This ranges from aseptic techniques, nutritional requirements and behavioural pharmacy to in-depth knowledge of the British National Formulary (BNF).

The pass rate for the registration examination is generally around 80–90%, although in June 2012 there was an unusually high pass rate of 96%. By comparison, there was a substantial drop to 78% in June 2013. The June 2014 rate was up again at 85%.

Many trainees who are unsuccessful in the registration assessment make the mistake of learning from past and outdated exam questions alone and therefore miss large areas of the latest syllabus. The GPhC’s examination syllabus, to which all pre-registration trainees and tutors have access, should always be used as a primary source when revising. But events such as the RPS pre-registration conferences can help trainees further embed the necessary information.

The events have expanded year-on-year since their launch in 2012, when what was planned as a single conference sold out. Plans for the 2015 events are well underway. The RPS’s pre-registration advisory panel is again hoping to hold the conferences in various cities around the UK.

The programme takes place over two days, and learning is supported through case studies, quizzes and didactic lectures, led by pharmacy experts. The first day of the conference addresses the key areas of the GPhC syllabus, including responding to symptoms, the BNF, the BNF for Children, and the Medicines, Ethics and Practice guide. Attendees are directed to the syllabus to support self-study in the other areas for the examination.

The second day of the conference is a full mock assessment under exam conditions, including time constraints. From the layout to the invigilation, the mock examination aims to mirror the GPhC process.

We believe this experience helps participants identify areas of weakness that require further attention.

For more information on the RPS pre-registration conferences, contact

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 18 October 2014, Vol 293, No 7832;293(7832):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066768

You may also be interested in