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Registration assessment: GPhC has ‘clear evidence’ of cheating

Pharmacy News

Registration assessment: GPhC has ‘clear evidence’ of cheating

By Arthur Walsh

The GPhC is to take action against individuals who shared questions from this summer’s registration assessment, saying “clear evidence” has been brought to its attention.

In papers published ahead of the GPhC’s council meeting on Thursday September 8, the regulator spoke of its “serious concern that candidates are violating the registration assessment regulations by sharing questions after the assessment – the GPhC has clear evidence of this”.

“The GPhC is taking action where there is sufficient evidence to take a case forward,” it said.

The papers set out a number of steps to be taken by the regulator to prevent a repeat of the disruption seen in this year’s June assessment, which was beset by reports of significant delays, IT issues and poor invigilation, in addition to concerns over cheating and “unprofessional environments”.  

For example, in the coming November assessment the regulator plans to ensure there is “a representative from the GPhC in every test centre” to verify that the centres are equipped to provide the exam, provide a direct line of communication to candidates and compile a short report following the assessment detailing “any issues raised by candidates… including any potential misconduct”. 

Potential for back-up paper exams

The GPhC said it is seeking assurances from exam provider BTL – which won a three-year contract in January this year – that it will make improvements ahead of the November assessment, such as carrying out sufficient testing to avoid IT issues like freezing computers and poor online connections. 

It is also exploring the “practicalities” of offering paper exams at test centres in the event of IT failures.

As a further precaution, the November assessment will only be staged in test centres that are “permanently set up to deliver assessments,” with BTL currently auditing centres for suitability.

The regulator also said it will set out a “revised approach” for the council to consider “in relation to schools of pharmacy where the first-time pass rate remains low despite previous interventions”.

GPhC approves 82% of appeals

In its report on the June assessment, which was sat by 2,697 candidates, the GPhC noted that the pass rate of 80 per cent was comparable to previous years, and that there was no “statistically significant variation” in the pass rate among candidates who sat the assessment in one of the six test centres that faced significant delays of 30 minutes or more.

It said that 82 per cent of appeals that have been decided to date have been upheld (103 of 126), “primarily due to grounds relating to delay or technical issues”.

“This is in addition to 53 candidates who were automatically regarded as having a successful appeal due to experiencing delays of 30 minutes or more,” said the GPhC, adding that is “continuing to process the remaining appeals”. 

All candidates deemed as having a successful appeal are to be refunded the cost of sitting the exam. 

After meeting with a group of protestors on July 12 regarding their concerns over the assessment, the GPhC said that two of the protesters’ four demands had been met, including offering provisional registration to candidates affected by delays.

It said it was unable to meet demands to offer all those who failed the June setting an additional attempt and to only require candidates to resit the part of the exam they failed, on the grounds that this would give them an unfair advantage over candidates who sat the exam in previous years.

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