Trainee pharmacists will likely continue to take the registration assessment online for the next three years, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.
The GPhC has been offering the assessment online through Pearson VUE test centres and, for a small number of candidates, remotely since March 2021.
As of June 2021, the GPhC had said that it had not made a firm decision about the format of the registration assessment beyond the exams in summer and autumn 2021.
However, in a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 4 August 2021, the GPhC said it was now tendering a contract for a supplier to deliver a computer-based registration assessment in test centres across the UK for a three-year period.
The statement added that it is the GPhC’s “intention for the registration assessment to be delivered online during that time”.
According to the contract, the supplier will be paid £2,083,000 to host the assessment over three years, between 1 November 2021 and 31 October 2024.
Nearly 3,000 preregistration pharmacists took the assessment online in March 2021, with 50 candidates sitting the exam remotely in the UK and a further 57 sitting the exam overseas.
Bella Shah, president of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, said that the association “would like to see the GPhC continue to improve on the computer-based registration assessment as this model is beneficial, including local sittings”.
“We would also like to see more flexibility if technical issues arise so that candidates do not have to wait until the next assessment date.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England, said: “The RPS supports the computer-based model for the registration assessment, and welcomes the news that the GPhC has announced it will be in place for the next three years.
“However, there must be provisions in place for risks on the day of the exam, and they must be properly understood and adequately mitigated. We have previously written to the GPhC in this regard.
“Trainees impacted by issues, as witnessed this year, through no fault of their own, should not be put at a disadvantage due to these risks.”
While the results from the March 2021 sitting showed a higher than usual pass rate of 88.2%, some candidates reported technical difficulties.
In the July 2021 sitting, which also included nearly 3,000 candidates, the GPhC said “several candidates” sitting the assessment remotely were unable to sit the exam, possibly “due to internet connection issues they were experiencing”.
It added that four candidates “were not able to sit the second paper, due to a system failure in one test centre”.
“We are sorry that it has not been possible for these candidates to complete their assessment, and understand how distressing this has been for them,” the GPhC said in a statement.
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