Figures from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) show that 90.4% of provisionally registered pharmacists have passed the March 2021 registration assessment.
The regulator said that 2,666 candidates sat the exam over 17 and 18 March 2021, of which 2,281 were provisionally registered.
This year’s pass rate is higher than in recent years. The most recent assessment, held in June 2019, saw a pass rate of 72%, while in 2018, it was 79% and in 2017, it was 78%. There has been a pass rate above 88.2% only twice in the past decade.
The 218 provisional registrants who sat the assessment and did not pass will, from today, no longer be able to work as pharmacists — although some employers have said that they will work with the cohort to find solutions, which could include alternative employment.
The assessments had been postponed from June 2020 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said: “We expect there are a number of factors that may have contributed to this relatively high pass rate. This year has obviously been very different compared to previous years, and it is not possible to determine with any degree of certainty which factors would have had the most significant impact.
“We are confident that we have maintained the overall standard required to pass both sittings, and that all successful candidates have suitably demonstrated the knowledge, skills and experience needed to practise safely and effectively. We wish the successful candidates all the best in their future careers.”
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) extended its congratulations to candidates that passed the assessment, noting that “COVID-19 has been such a challenging period, so this is such an incredible achievement”.
The RPS added that members who did not pass this time will have their membership extended free of charge, so that they can continue to access support ahead of the next assessment.
“Considering the unusual circumstances presented by the pandemic, this is an outstanding achievement and we at the RPS are very proud of the commitment shown by all trainee pharmacists in preparing for the exam,” said Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS.
“If you didn’t get the result you were hoping for, try not to be downhearted. We are here to help and will support you in the best way we can to help you become a fully-qualified pharmacist.”
On 5 May 2021, the RPS will host an online event to offer advice and support for those who did not pass.