Just 40.8% of trainee pharmacists who sat the registration assessment in September 2016 passed, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has revealed in figures published on 28 October 2016.
The September exam was the second time the assessment’s new methodology, introduced in June 2016, has been used. In June, the pass rate reached a four-year high of 95%.
The GPhC’s Board of Assessors says in its report to the GPhC that a drop in the pass rate from the summer to autumn exam has been observed in previous years and it was likely to result from a greater proportion of September’s candidates retaking the exam, having previously failed.
In June, over 90% of candidates were sitting the exam for the first time, compared with only 60% in September.
In 2015, before the new methodology was introduced, the September pass rate was 64% compared with 74% in June.
The board says that statistical analyses support the reliability of the September exam. It also notes that the three months between June and September leave resitting candidates little time to improve.
“The board is not suggesting there should be a change in the pattern of sittings at this stage but it will continue to monitor cohort performance in future years to see whether further evidence suggests a change might be in the best interest of candidates,” the board states.
The GPhC reports that the overall pass rate for 2016 is 84.9%, which is in line with previous years.
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, says: “Each assessment is carefully set so that only the candidates who demonstrate the required knowledge and understanding can pass and be eligible for registration. The Board of Assessors also carries out a thorough analysis after each sitting to make sure outcomes are fair and consistent.”