Overseas-based candidates for the pharmacy registration assessment who live in countries with a time difference of two hours or more from the UK will be allowed to sit the exam remotely at the same time as UK candidates, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.
Previously, 69 candidates currently living in countries with a six-hour or more time difference were told that they would not be able to sit the March 2021 exam in their home country, either in a test centre or remotely.
In a statement published on 15 February 2021, the regulator said it accepted that its decision had caused “significant frustration and disappointment”. It added that it had taken on board feedback from affected candidates — including that many would be prepared to sit the exam at the same time as UK-based candidates, even if that meant taking the assessment during unsociable hours.
“As a result, candidates in countries with a time difference of two hours or more will now be able to apply to sit remotely at home, subject to availability of remote sitting places,” it said.
The GPhC said it could not guarantee that every candidate would be able to book a place for a remote sitting “as there are a limited number of slots for remote sittings available on Pearson VUE [the exam provider], which are available to candidates across all Pearson hosted tests”.
It added that it would still not be possible for those living in countries with more than a two-hour time difference from the UK to sit the exam on UK time in a Pearson assessment centre, as Pearson VUE had confirmed “that it is not possible for the test centres they use in these countries to open late to accommodate candidates sitting concurrently with UK candidates”. The regulator encouraged candidates to “think carefully” about whether they wish to sit in March 2021, or wait for a later sitting when travel to the UK may be more feasible.
The chairs of the three Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) national pharmacy boards had previously written to the GPhC urging them to review the original decision. Gail Fleming, RPS director for education and professional development, said the Society welcomed the latest announcement.
“Trainees should not have been asked to travel to the UK to take an online assessment in the midst of a pandemic. The online capability is there and we are aware that a broad range of professions have been using this to run their assessments overseas. It is important that all pharmacy trainees can access the registration assessment, irrespective of their location or personal situation that may impact on their ability to attend a test centre in person.
“We will continue to engage with the GPhC to ensure that similar scenarios do not happen in future”.