GPhC defends questions in preregistration exams

More than one fifth of candidates who sat the June 2017 pre-reg exam contacted the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) after the assessment, with the vast majority complaining about the length and complexity of questions in the exam, particularly in paper 2.

General Pharmaceutical Council signage

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has defended the questions it set for June’s pre-registration exam after hundreds of students complained about them.

In its review of this summer’s exams, the GPhC’s Board of Assessors said: “all questions are subject to a rigorous, multi-stage review process before they are included in a paper. However, as the Board has noted elsewhere in this report, questions which are ambiguous or otherwise perform unsatisfactorily are removed after a sitting.”

More than one fifth of candidates who sat the June pre-reg exam contacted the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) after the assessment, with the vast majority complaining about the length and complexity of questions in the exam, particularly in paper 2.

The GPhC said one question from each of the two papers had been discounted from the final results, after analysis of all students’ answers.

One of the BPSA’s recommendations after listening to its members’ feedback on the pre-reg exams was that the GPhC should review the whole pre-registration year to “better prepare all candidates for registration and future practice”.

And it called on the GPhC to address “issues” with the pre-registration training year including a disparity of study time among training providers and a lack of regulation of pre-registration tutors.

In its response, the GPhC said it was aware of the concerns and would continue to meet with national commissioning bodies including NHS Education Scotland, Health Education England, and the new Health Education and Improvement Wales to try to ensure an even quality of training in candidates’ pre-registration year.

The GPhC also accepted that the venue used for half of the students taking this summer’s pre-registration assessment may have been too noisy, but said it was unlikely to move to another centre in September or beyond.

A number of students complained of the noise from aeroplanes at the GPhC London exam venue ExCel, which is near London City Airport.

“We appreciate that the noise may be considered intrusive by some candidates, and [we] will continue to try to source another venue, but finding one of that size with good transport links in London is difficult,” the GPhC said.

The overall pre-registration assessment pass rate was 78.2% this summer, and the GPhC has released figures that reveal the pass rate by different categories:

By pharmacy school — the highest pass rate was the University of Sunderland with 93.1% and the lowest pass rate was Kingston University with 60.8%.

By country — Wales 87.5%, Scotland 85.7%, England 80.7%.

By ethnicity — White British 93.6%, Chinese 90%, Indian 79.6%, not declared 78.9%, Asian-other 74.3%, other ethnic group 74%, Pakistani 72.1%

  • 13 September 2017: This article was amended to correct an error after we wrongly said that students from the University of Hertfordshire achieved the lowest pass rate in this June’s General Pharmaceutical Council pre-registration assessment with a pass rate of 71.3%. In fact, students from Kingston University achieved the lowest pass rate, at 60.8%.
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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, September 2017, Vol 299, 7905;299(7905):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203560