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GPhC rejects claims that exam questions were unfair


GPhC rejects claims that exam questions were unfair

The GPhC has hit back at claims from trainee pharmacists that last week’s registration exam did not reflect the materials they had been given to prepare for it.

After a week of intense criticism around last Wednesday’s exam, with some candidates raising concerns around the content of the calculations paper, the regulator issued a statement shortly before 6pm yesterday (July 5) insisting that its assessment board “follows a blueprint… [that] is the same for all papers and is always followed”. 

“All questions are linked to the registration assessment framework without exception,” it added.

“Ensuring that topics are covered does not necessarily mean that a question will be set on a specific subject, which is a common misconception by candidates.

“The standard of each question is set by a panel of standard setters, who are all practising pharmacists with current experience of pre-registration trainees and early years pharmacists.”

The GPhC said it is working with exam provider BTL to “rapidly investigate” other issues cited by exam candidates, such as claims of cheating and excessive noise in some test centres.

It also stressed that candidates may not necessarily have to score a minimum of 70 per cent in the exam to pass, as the pass mark can vary “based on the difficulty of papers,” and refuted claims on social media that future cohorts will not have to sit a registration assessment.

Option to nullify the exam

Candidates who faced problems “not relating to a procedure not being properly applied by the GPhC or the assessment providers” were informed they could submit a nullification form before today (UPDATE: The regulator has since extended the deadline to 9am on Monday July 11), and that if their request is upheld the sitting will not count as one of their three attempts to pass.

The regulator told trainees who feel their performance was “significantly affected by a procedural issue relating to how the assessment was held” that they should wait for their results to be released on July 29 and then appeal if they have not passed.

“Eligible” candidates affected by “severe delays” (such as those reported at the University of Nottingham) who do not pass are to be offered provisional registration on a temporary basis. They will have their assessment fee refunded, and last Wednesday’s exam will not count as one of their three attempts.

The regulator has faced further criticism after its statement last night. Pharmacist Siddiqur Rahman tweeted: “You are still currently investigating the various issues candidates have told you about but still insistent for them to gamble on whether they nullify the exam by tomorrow or wait till after the results if they fail to appeal which can affect their attempt number?” 

Meanwhile, former RPSGB president Steve Churton said the GPhC’s response “feels totally lacking in empathy and comes across as very procedural”.

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