GPhC and PSNI announce results for the first common registration assessment

A total of 959 candidates sat the registration assessment in four countries on 16 November, with 584 candidates passing the assessment: an overall pass rate of 61%

The results of the first four-country common registration assessment for pharmacists, held jointly by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI), have been published.

The registration assessment is one of the ways trainee pharmacists can demonstrate that they understand how to apply knowledge appropriately and in a timely way, to make professional judgements in pharmacy practice.

Passing the registration assessment is a vital element of being eligible to apply to become a registered pharmacist.

In the November assessment, 43% candidates sat for the first time, 45% for the second time and 12% for the third time. In comparison, for the July sittings 90% of candidates were sitting for the first time, 8% were sitting for the second time and 2% were sitting for the third time.

Trainee pharmacists are permitted three attempts at the registration assessment.

This autumn’s pass rate of 61% compares with the 69% pass rate for the autumn 2019 registration assessment, and the 65% pass rate for the Autumn 2018 registration assessment.

For this sitting, 30% of the candidates in Great Britain were provisionally-registered pharmacists.  This compares with 9% of candidates who sat in July and 77% of candidates who sat in March.

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:

“We have worked closely with the Pharmaceutical Society NI to hold the first joint common registration assessment for trainee pharmacists in all four countries of the UK. Each assessment had to be carried out simultaneously across the United Kingdom to ensure a fair and robust process.

“We would like to congratulate the successful candidates and thank them for all their hard work and dedication in what continues to be a challenging time for health professionals. 

“There will be candidates who unfortunately did not pass, and we understand they will be disappointed by this news. We hope that they will use the guidance we have produced to help them with their next steps and understand their options.”

Pharmaceutical Society NI Chief Executive and Interim Registrar, Trevor Patterson said:

“We are delighted that the four-country common registration assessment, held jointly with the GPhC , has been successfully and safely delivered during the ongoing pandemic and we are grateful to colleagues in the GPhC for their support and assistance in Northern Ireland.

“We congratulate all those candidates who have been successful and wish them every success in their future careers as much needed additions to the healthcare workforce. 

“Those candidates in Northern Ireland who have been unsuccessful should refer to guidance on the Pharmaceutical Society NI website for further help and support on next steps.”

Further information and statistics

November 2021 summary statistics

Candidates Number % of total
Total number of candidates 959 100%
Number of first time sitters 414 43.2%
(of which were provisionally registered) (283) (29.5%)
Number of second time sitters 433 45.2%
Number of third time sitters 112 11.7%
Candidate performance - pass rates     
First sitting candidates - pass 244 58.9%
(of which were provisionally registered - pass) (176) (62.2%)
Second time sitters - pass 272 62.8%
Third time sitters - pass 68 60.7%
Overall pass  584 60.9%
Overall fail 375 39.1%

Previous 2021 sittings  

Registration year Total sitting Total passing Pass rate
March 2021 2666 2353 88%
July 2021 2907 2371 82%

Registration assessment results for previous 5 years (Autumn sittings) 

Registration year Total sitting Total passing Pass rate
2019 1057 731 69%
2018 834 544 65%
2017 825 481 58%
2016 660 269 41%
2015 976 626 64%

Quality assuring the registration assessment

The registration assessment papers are developed by experienced pharmacists and assessment experts. Questions are written by practising pharmacists, then the standard of each question is set by standards setters, all of whom are practising pharmacists with current knowledge of pre-registration trainees and/or recently registered pharmacists.

Papers are then set by an appointed body of pharmacists and assessment experts, the Board of Assessors. All questions and papers are mapped on to the GPhC’s registration assessment framework to ensure they reflect the practice of a day one pharmacist.

After a sitting, the performance of all questions and papers as a whole in that particular sitting are analysed and, using statistical methods applied across health professional examinations, the pass mark for each paper is confirmed and candidates are awarded passes or fails. Candidates who pass both papers pass overall.

The Board of Assessors set the passing standard, not the percentage of candidates who pass the assessment. This means that candidates are not being measured against each other or selected to pass or fail according to where they sit in the cohort of all candidates.

Further information on how papers are created and marked can be found on the registration assessment pages of our website.

For more detailed statistics on the result, see our statistical breakdown [PDF 217KB]