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Preregistration trainees claim exam conditions affected performance

By News team

More than 70 preregistration trainees have complained to their student body because they are concerned that increased stress levels might have affected their performance in this year’s registration examination. They say their increased stress was brought about because of the way the examination was organised.

A number of candidates have said they encountered problems on the day of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s 2011 summer registration examination, including delays, last-minute venue changes and invigilators talking during the test.

Just over 85 per cent of candidates passed. The figure is down from previous years (85.4 per cent compared with 86.9 per cent for 2010 and 89.9 per cent for 2009).

The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association expressed its disappointment in the falling pass rate. "The BPSA feels it is a shame that the examination pass rate has decreased again this year compared to previous years. We have been contacted by a significant number of preregistration pharmacists concerned that adverse circumstances and increased stress levels on the day may have impaired their performance," said Ryan Hamilton, the BPSA’s president.

"Worst organised" exam day in 10 years

Principal pharmacist lead for education and development at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust Aamer Safdar has attended all summer registration examinations for the past 10 years. Mr Safdar commented on PJ Online: "This was by far the worst organised day I have ever seen. The agency staff who were acting as invigilators had little idea of what to do, so I am concerned about the induction or training that they had received. While the organisation was poor, there were some critical procedural errors which took place." He explained that not all of the trainees had their reference sources checked for additional printed material. The GPhC was not prepared to comment.

Students fail by one calculation question

Roy Sinclair, a preregistration manager, had 30 candidates who sat this year’s examination, of whom three failed on account of one calculation question. Mr Sinclair commented on PJ Online: "The GPhC has admitted that there were difficulties with this year’s exam. If the feedback from those who sat in London is correct, then for a professional exam, there were not simply difficulties — [it was an] unprofessional shambles with ill-prepared administration, unprofessional tutors, inappropriate invigilation and checking and significant delays and disturbances."

BPSA encouraging students to appeal

Candidates who fail are able to resit the examination or appeal the result. However, the BPSA said that it is too early to determine the number of candidates who will be appealing against a fail status as a result of the problems encountered. The association is encouraging candidates to appeal individually to the GPhC and contact the BPSA’s graduate officer with any concerns.

The GPhC has apologised to students who sat this year’s examination but said that the pass rate was not significantly different from those of previous years and that those students who took the assessment in London did not underperform in relation to previous years. "Without understating the problems which arose for candidates on the day in some centres, the public and the profession can be assured that the quality, fairness and robustness of the exam as the final assessment leading to registration were up to the required standard," the GPhC said.

The examination was the first to be held by the GPhC since it became operational as pharmacy’s regulator in September 2010.

See also: TP ONtrack — designed to help prereg trainees pass their exam 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11081373

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  • Students in examination hall (Mrloz/

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