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How you should prepare for the registration assessment

How can you get through the registration assessment unscathed? This article covers advice and revision tips from current tutors, as well as views from two current preregistration trainees.

Tagged BNF

Trainees have a tendency to “over-tag” their British National Formularies and this can lead to confusion.

The day of the registration assessment can be daunting. Your performance will determine whether you will join the Register and put your formal training years behind you.

Be prepared or prepare to fail

Kathryn Davison – experienced tutor

The key to success lies in preparation. You will answer questions correctly if you remain calm and this stems from the knowledge that you know as much as possible and are confident in your abilities.

You should read the General Pharmaceutical Council preregistration bulletins regularly. Be aware of what you are allowed to take to the assessment and have on your desk. For example, highlighter pens, loose papers and Post-it notes are not permitted. Arriving at the venue early with plenty of time to register and find your place on the seating plan should also help you to feel more settled, so plan your journey in advance and allow yourself adequate time.

You should assess your fitness to sit the assessment beforehand. If there are extenuating circumstances that may affect your performance, it is crucial that you carefully consider whether you are ready to go ahead with the assessment or whether it would be more appropriate to delay your first attempt.

Time management and tagging BNFs

Kathryn Moffitt – new tutor

Many of you may have already had your final progress report with your tutor and, if this were satisfactory, you can now focus your efforts towards exam revision. There are two multiple choice assessment papers. You must achieve an average of at least 70% across both papers, including 70% in the calculation questions. The morning assessment is the closed book paper, which requires that you answer 90 questions in 90 minutes. The afternoon assessment is open book, and includes 80 questions (20 calculation style) with a time allowance of 150 minutes.

Most trainees find the open book paper the most challenging. The stumbling block is time management. It is unlikely you will have the time to look up every question.  Make educated guesses where possible and return to these questions if you have time left at the end.

Trainees have a tendency to “over-tag” their British National Formularies and this can lead to confusion. Tagging every section, every table and every Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) warning is unnecessary. The best way to decide what to tag is to practise with your sample questions. If some tags go unused, do not be afraid to remove them. Imagine a question regarding phytomenadione. It is easier to look up the drug in the index rather than waste time trying to find the “warfarin” tag. If you tag your index, when phytomenadione comes up you can go straight to the “P” tag, providing you with a page number more quickly than if you go through your chapter tags.

The index can also be used effectively by highlighting certain drugs. Enzyme inducers could be highlighted in pink, enzyme inhibitors in blue, drugs requiring monitoring in green, and so on. There might be a question you can answer just by knowing drug X is an enzyme inhibitor, which may be quicker than using the interactions section.  

Handwritten annotations and highlighted text are permissible and useful to help key points stand out. Rather than highlighting every word, use your revision and practice questions to judge what is important.

Published sample papers, online question banks (for example, ONtrack) and books can also help guide your revision. If you answer every question on hypertension correctly, but often have trouble with questions regarding asthma, tailor your revision accordingly. It is easy to continue revising topics that you understand well, but this takes time away from topics that you do not.

Consider whether you struggle with a particular style of question, for example: “is the second statement a correct explanation of the first?” Adjust your revision to include more of this type of question if you struggle with it.

Finally, think about different revision techniques. Ask your work colleagues to ask you questions at work. Often the support staff will ask different questions than your tutor.  Consider meeting up with other trainees for group revision sessions. You could each provide a revision guide for a certain topic or design a quiz.

Consider the entire syllabus

Talitha Orlandi – preregistration trainee

I found ONtrack (an online database of registration assessment type questions) to be a useful source to aid revision. The website segregates each section of the registration assessment into three categories: closed book, open book and calculations. This allows you to focus on your weakest areas. You can then select the number of questions you would like to complete, ranging from 10 to 50 questions. This is particularly useful when there are time constraints, for example, if you have a study hour during a working day. It can also be valuable when you need a short break from making notes or reading the BNF.

It is important to consider the entire syllabus when studying. The GPhC provides a registration assessment syllabus online listing what you should cover. It also provides a list of resources containing material to supplement and support your revision for the assessment.

What to consider during the assessment

Christine Wassef – preregistration trainee

Here are my tips for sitting the assessment:

1.    Assess the number of pages and questions, set mini time goals (for example, complete 10 questions in 10 minutes) and keep an eye on the clock.

2.    Answer every question. The assessment is not negatively marked. Skip questions you do not know and go back to them later. If necessary, guess.

3.    Always check that the answer number corresponds with the question number so that you do not fill in the entire answer sheet incorrectly.

4.    Double check your calculation. One small mistake will lead you to the wrong answer.


Citation: Tomorrow's Pharmacist URI: 11138938

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