Changes to the registration assessment in 2016

We are taking forward some changes to the registration assessment from 2016 onwards, which the board of assessors have agreed are necessary to reflect the changes in pharmacy practice since the assessment was introduced in 1993.

If you are preparing or supporting pre-registration trainees to prepare to sit the assessment in 2016, this page gives useful information about the changes.

We will update this page as we progress through the implementation of these changes. If you have any questions, please contact us at

What are the changes to the assessment from 2016?

The changes which the board of assessors have agreed are:

  • Replacing  all open book source references, including  the BNF, with artefacts from clinical practice, such as patient information leaflets, which candidates will need to use to answer questions

  • Allowing calculators to be used in one of the papers

  • Removing multiple completion and assertion reason questions, and introducing a new type of multiple choice question, so that there are two types of questions - single best answer and extended matching

  • Reformatting the assessment syllabus so that it is mapped to the current  Future Pharmacists learning outcomes, and to make sure that the assessment covers the areas of the learning outcomes


Why are the board of assessors changing the assessment?

In 2011, we introduced revised education standards and learning outcomes for pharmacy students. The first group of trainees who have been educated and trained according to these standards will sit the assessment in 2016.

Although the board has made changes to the assessment over time, it has agreed that more significant changes need to be made to make sure the assessment takes advantage of current education best practice to enable trainees to better demonstrate the competencies set out in the learning outcomes.


Will anything else change in pre-registration in 2016?

No, apart from small changes we make year on year, the overall format will stay the same. Practical pre-registration training in addition to a national registration assessment still provides a relevant and comprehensive way to assure that trainees have the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competence necessary to become a registered professional pharmacist.


Will calculators be allowed?

We are going to allow trainees to use calculators for some questions but not for others. We will provide a set of sample questions that will include both sorts of questions in 2015.


Will reference texts be used?

No, instead we are going to use excerpts from the BNF and CBNF, and other documents like patient information leaflets and medication charts. You won’t need to bring reference sources to the assessment.


Does this means trainees don’t need to use the BNF or CBNF?

No. The BNF and CBNF will remain core reference sources that we expect trainees to use regularly when they are training (and once they are registered). Excerpts from these sources will be included as part of the assessment.


Will these changes affect the June and September papers in 2015?

No those papers will be the same as they are now. You will still need to use reference texts, and will not be able to use a calculator. Find out about the 2015 registration assessment here


What happens if I fail in 2015 (or earlier) but have to resit in 2016?

Everyone who sits the registration assessment in 2016 will sit the new paper, even if this is your second or third attempt. We are telling you about the changes now – 18 months before the first sitting in 2016 – so you have plenty of time to prepare.


How do I find out more about the changes?

We will be keeping our website updated as we progress through the implementation of these changes so you can check back regularly. We have a proactive communications plan over the next 18 months and will make sure that tutors or trainees starting pre-registration training in 2015 are made aware of the changes.