I was disappointed by your editorial ‘Exam gap must be closed’ (The Pharmaceutical Journal online, 24 September 2018).
You highlighted two schools — one at the top and one at the bottom of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) pass league tables — with the implication that attending one school of pharmacy is likely to enhance your chances of becoming a pharmacist relative to another. The editorial does not make it particularly clear that these figures are based only on the first of three possible attempts to pass the preregistration examination; the more meaningful figure would be the number who fail to pass after three attempts and therefore cannot go on the register. The GPhC does not publish these figures and one suspects that this is because they are much less discriminating between schools of pharmacy and so less newsworthy.
Did you pass all your exams on the first attempt during your academic studies? I suspect many of your readers would not have and were grateful for the resit opportunity. The reasons for not passing on the first attempt can be varied, but one important issue flagged by some graduates is the difference in the nature of the GPhC assessment to that encountered at universities during the students’ undergraduate studies; universities must make strenuous efforts to ensure that assessments do not disadvantage minority groups.
So the situation is a far less clear cut than suggested in the opening of your editorial and I do hope you will bear this in mind in future commentary.
John Smart, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton