First online pharmacy registration assessment takes place


A total of 2670 candidates have sat the GPhC’s first online registration assessments held on 17th and 18th March 2021. The vast majority of candidates sat in Pearson VUE test centres, with 83 candidates sitting remotely in Great Britain and overseas using Pearson’s OnVUE system.


The GPhC highlighted that a small number of individual candidates experienced some technical issues during the sittings. Several candidates sitting remotely were unable to sit the online registration assessment, with initial analysis suggesting this was due to internet connection issues they were experiencing.


A small number of candidates sitting in test centres also experienced some technical issues, which were largely resolved by the test centre staff. Our staff also worked with Pearson VUE to resolve wherever possible some other minor issues experienced by candidates.


There have been some concerns raised by candidates that the papers for each sitting were the same or very similar and that this could have an impact on which candidates pass the assessment.


The GPhC sought to reassure candidates that different papers were used for each sitting.  The majority of the questions were different, with some questions appearing similar but having appropriately different answers. Although a number of questions were the same, this is standard assessment practice in high-stakes assessments to ensure consistency, fairness and reliability across the two sittings.


The GPhC said that there is a robust, thorough and evidence-based process for setting and moderating the papers and ensuring that fairness and an appropriate standard are maintained across papers.


Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:


“I would like to congratulate everyone who has now completed the assessment. And thank you to candidates for your patience and professionalism while waiting to sit the assessment, and during the assessment itself.  We know many of you have faced significant difficulties during a very stressful year. Our thanks also go to all those colleagues, family members and friends who have supported candidates through this process.


“I am very sorry that a small number of candidates experienced technical issues, either at home or in test centres, and our team will be following up with them on an individual basis to explain their options.


“Some candidates have expressed concerns that the papers were very similar across the two sittings and this may lead to some advantage for some candidates.  We would like to reassure candidates that there were different papers for each sitting.


“The Board of Assessors will be carefully reviewing the reports from each sitting and taking forward a thorough and evidence-based standard-setting process to set the standard across the sittings and papers, to make sure the outcomes are fair and robust.  We would like to wish every candidate the best of luck for their results.”


Candidates who sat the assessment will receive their results on 29 April 2021.


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The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has confirmed that it will be working with an international assessment company to deliver the online registration assessment. It has been confirmed that Pearson VUE, a company that specialises in computer-based testing, will hold the registration assessment sittings online for the first time from 2021.


The GPhC has said that the registration assessment provides assurance to patients and the public that the pharmacy professionals on our register can practice safely and effectively, by testing that pre-registration trainee pharmacists can demonstrate that they understand how to apply knowledge appropriately and in a timely way, to make professional judgements in pharmacy practice.


Candidates must pass the ‘high-stakes assessment’ to be eligible to join the register as a pharmacist.


Sittings usually take place twice a year in June and September, but sittings in 2020 were postponed as a result of the pandemic. From 2021, the registration assessment will be held online.


Pearson VUE provides a suite of services from test development to online proctoring for information technology, academic, government and professional testing programs around the world. This currently includes holding assessments for the Nursing and Midwifery Council in Great Britain, the Australian Pharmacy Council and the New Zealand Pharmacy Council.


The GPhC had previously communicated limited details about the date for this year’s registration exam. They had said that the exam will take place in the first quarter of 2021 and have assured those involved that the exam will not happen in the first two weeks of January.


Mark Voce, GPhC Director of Education and Standards said:


“I’m pleased to confirm that we have identified Pearson VUE as our preferred supplier through a thorough tender process which assessed bids against our rigorous requirements for quality, security and accessibility of the registration assessment.


“We are confident that together we can hold online assessment sittings which give candidates a robust and fair test opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply their skills and knowledge.”


Matthew Poyiadgi, Vice President EMEA, Pearson VUE, commented:


‘’Licenses and certifications uphold the standards of safe practice in the healthcare sector, proving that professionals such as pharmacists have the knowledge and ability to provide safe and effective treatment. We are delighted to be able to support GPhC in its delivery of online assessments from next year.’’


Gail Fleming, RPS Director of Education, said:


“It’s still very disappointing that the GPhC is not able to provide trainees with a definite date for the delayed assessment. This remains a very difficult situation for those affected and RPS continues to support them.


“Whilst we welcome this latest communication from the GPhC as a step in the right direction, we continue to push for quicker action to set an exact date to provide certainty to those who will be sitting the exam. Information about the format of the assessment including resources and the arrangements for reasonable adjustments is needed now to alleviate the ongoing concerns of many trainees.”



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