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Education

Black African pharmacy students still least likely to pass GPhC prereg exam

White British students achieved the highest pass rate of 92.5% in the General Pharmaceutical Council’s summer preregistration exam, while Black African students had the lowest pass rate of 66.2%.

Black African trainee pharmacists had the lowest pass rates in the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) summer preregistration exam, despite attempts by the pharmacy regulator to discover why this ethnic group has historically performed poorly in the assessment.

According to figures from the GPhC, Black African students achieved a pass rate of 66.2%, the lowest of all the listed ethnicities. The second lowest pass rate was seen among Pakistani students, who achieved a pass rate of 71.6% (see table).

Meanwhile, White British students achieved the highest pass rate of 92.5%, followed by Chinese/Chinese British students, who achieved a pass rate of 89.5%.

The results are comparable with the 2017 summer preregistration assessment when Black African candidates again had the lowest pass rate of 65.6%, while White British students had the highest pass rate, at 93.6%.

In 2016, the GPhC carried out an investigation into why Black African trainee pharmacists performed less well in the registration assessments, with results suggesting that they could be more likely to struggle because many are also mature or overseas students. The research also showed that some Black African candidates experience bias and prejudice.

In July 2018, the GPhC said it would rewrite standards to ensure “equality of opportunity” for all preregistration pharmacists. It also said it would require pharmacy schools to be more “proactive” on equality and diversity.

The GPhC’s breakdown of the preregistration assessment also showed pass rates by pharmacy school (see table). The school with the lowest pass rate was the University of Central Lancashire, which had a pass rate of 56.8%. The highest pass rate was achieved by students from the University College London, which had a pass rate of 93.6%.

In response to the low pass rate, a spokesperson for the University of Central Lancashire said: “Preparing our students for professional practice as pharmacists is of the utmost importance to us.”

“We will be contacting the General Pharmaceutical Council to establish the validity of these results as they have not yet been officially shared with us. We are therefore unable to comment further at this time.”

In November 2017, the GPhC said it planned to meet with pharmacy schools to discuss poor performance by preregistration students in that summer’s exams.

In the council papers, the GPhC’s Board of Assessors defended the preregistration assessment despite hundreds of students saying the June 2018 exam was “complex”, “ambiguous” and “misleading”.

In a report on the exam, published by the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA), compiling feedback from 266 of the 2,942 candidates who sat the assessment, several recommendations were made. These included ensuring that resources available to students revising for the assessment were better aligned to the actual paper and that questions be distributed in such a way to allow candidates sufficient time to complete the paper.

After considering the BPSA report at its Board of Assessors meeting on 19 July 2018, the GPhC responded by highlighting that learning points were added annually to the resources available on its website and that the Registration Assessment Framework was also refreshed each year to ensure it reflects contemporary practice.

“The sample questions and questions for live papers are written by the same people and many of the sample questions have been used previously in live papers. For these reasons, the board is confident that the alignment between resources and live papers is good,” said the GPhC’s response.

It also said that the board had no evidence to suggest that there was insufficient time for candidates to complete the papers and that the questions were varied in terms of the length of time required to answer and overall difficulty.

The BPSA said it was aware of the comments of the Board of Assessors regarding the Registration Assessment Feedback presented to the GPhC by the BPSA and would formulate a response to be published on the BPSA website, in due course. 

Table 1: First attempt at the June 2018 registration assessment by ethnicity (≥ 20 candidates in a category)
 Source: GPhC. The following categories have not been reported because they contain <20 candidates: Black-Caribbean, Black-Other, Other Mixed, White-Irish, White and Black African, White and Black Caribbean. In addition, ‘Not supplied’ and ‘NULL’ have not been reported.
   

Average % mark

Ethnicity

Number of candidates

% pass rate

Part 1

Part 2

Asian — Other

177

73.4

76.2

74.4

Bangladeshi

81

74.1

76.5

74.6

Black African

219

66.2

70.6

72.2

Chinese / Chinese British

229

89.5

84.7

78

Indian

466

82.2

78.8

76.3

Other ethnic group

83

74.7

77.1

75.3

Pakistani

408

71.6

72.8

72.7

White British

679

92.5

85.2

81.1

White and Asian

24

83.3

80.3

76.1

White — Other

73

79.5

77.9

77.4

 

Table 2: First attempt at the June 2018 registration assessment by school of pharmacy attended (MPharm degree)
 Source: GPhC. *Data have not been presented (1) for OSPAP providers, (2) for The Queen’s University, Belfast and University of Ulster (most of whose graduates sit the PSNI’s Registration Examination in Northern Ireland) and (3) the five-year integrated degrees at the University of East Anglia and University of Nottingham, because in all cases candidate numbers are <20.
   

Average % mark

School of Pharmacy*

Number of candidates

% pass rate

Part 1

Part 2

Aston University

118

89.8

81.1

77.8

University of Bath

103

93.2

85.8

81.8

University of Birmingham

55

83.6

79.6

77.0

University of Bradford (four-year continuous degree)

69

73.9

73.2

73.4

University of Bradford (five-year sandwich degree)

75

78.7

75.6

77.0

University of Brighton

64

70.3

75.3

73.3

Cardiff University

103

92.2

85.0

81.5

University of Central Lancashire

95

56.8

68.9

69.2

De Montfort University

113

75.2

75.0

72.8

University of Durham

29

82.8

77.2

78.7

University of East Anglia

96

86.5

83.8

78.6

University of Hertfordshire

78

73.1

73.4

73.7

University of Huddersfield

68

77.9

78.8

76.3

Keele University

70

75.7

79.5

75.6

King’s College London

88

90.9

83.0

78.0

Kingston University

101

65.4

70.4

71.4

Liverpool John Moores University

130

78.5

79.3

76.6

University of Manchester

102

85.3

80.3

78.5

Medway School of Pharmacy (universities of Greenwich and Kent)

98

87.8

79.3

76.9

University of Nottingham

160

90.6

85.3

79.7

University of Portsmouth

104

72.1

74.9

74.4

University of Reading

101

74.3

77.0

74.2

The Robert Gordon University

89

76.4

79.6

74.9

University of Strathclyde

133

90.2

82.6

78.6

University of Sunderland

101

89.1

80.8

82.5

University College London

140

93.6

84.8

80.5

University of Wolverhampton

67

65.7

70.1

69.9

  

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205438

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