More than 100 preregistration pharmacists have told the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) that the June 2019 preregistration assessment did not reflect the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) framework for the exam.
In a report published on 26 July 2019, the BPSA said that 135 out of 166 people — or 81% — who sent feedback following the exam felt that the majority of the assessment comprised “medium- to low-weight topics”, in contrast to the Registration Assessment Framework, which states that 60—70% of questions will be focused on high-weighted outcomes.
The framework allots a ‘weight’ to an outcome that the assessment could help to measure in a future pharmacist, such as the ability to analyse prescriptions for validity and clarity — in this case medium — and then sets out what proportion of questions should relate to those outcomes.
There was particular concern expressed around paper two of the assessment, with the BPSA reporting that it had received “little to no positive feedback” on this section of the assessment. The report said that 100 respondents claimed paper two did not reflect the framework in terms of the proportion of high-weighted questions.
In its report, the BPSA recommended that the GPhC’s board of assessors report on the June assessment — which will be published in September 2019 — include the proportions of questions from each weighted category.
The GPhC said that exam papers are quality checked by the council’s board of assessors prior to registration assessments and that this process includes ensuring that all questions are mapped against the registration assessment framework.
The pass rate for the June 2019 sitting was the lowest since 2011, with 72% of 2,942 candidate passing the exam, compared with 79% in June 2018. A spokesperson from the BPSA told The Pharmaceutical Journal that “we recognise that [2019’s] pass rate is a record low and are keen to learn which areas were particularly challenging this year”.
Mark Voce, director for education at the GPhC, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We expect there to be variation in the pass rates as no two cohorts are the same.
“We do not identify a desired pass rate: instead, we set a standard which preregistration trainee pharmacists have to meet before they can pass and join the register.”