Only 52 candidates for the March 2021 registration assessment will sit the tests away from a test centre in Great Britain, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.
A spokesperson for the GPhC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that as of 12 March 2021, 109 candidates had arranged to sit the assessments remotely — that is, somewhere other than a Pearson Vue test centre.
Of these, 57 are candidates from overseas. A further seven candidates will sit the exam in an overseas test centre.
Following the postponement of the original exams, the regulator said in June 2020: “We have decided it is not a realistic option to try and reschedule sittings of the assessment within venues and are now intending to hold the registration assessment online instead.”
Then, in November 2020, the GPhC wrote to candidates saying that concerns over “internet connections, available technology and suitable home environments” had led it to hire exam provider Pearson VUE to provide test centres for the assessment.
The assessments, postponed from June and September 2020, will now take place on 17–18 March 2021, and a total of 2,899 candidates will sit the exam.
In a statement published on 5 March 2021, the regulator said that the “vast majority” of candidates across Great Britain would be able to sit the registration assessment within 50 miles of their home address. This followed initial reports that some candidates, particularly those based in Scotland, had been faced with potentially having to travel considerable distances from their home. In that statement, the GPhC added that “additional capacity in Scotland has been identified and Scottish candidates who want to sit the assessment in Scotland should be able to do so”.
On 12 March 2021, the regular announced that the summer and autumn assessments would take place on 27, 28 and 29 July 2021, and 16 November 2021. These dates were, it said, the “earliest available where Pearson VUE test centres can accommodate the predicted number of candidates under the current social distancing guidelines”. It went on to say that “holding the summer sittings over three days will increase the opportunity for candidates to find a test centre place near to them”.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it was “disappointed” that the regulator had not been able to secure venues for June and September 2021. The delay would, it said, “cause further anxiety to provisional registrants who have deferred the March sitting”.
However, the Society welcomed news that the provisional register had been extended until January 2022, saying that this would help to bridge the timing between the end of pre-registration training employment contracts, exam results and registration.