GPhC announces results for the first-ever online registration assessment

The GPhC has announced a pass rate of 88.2% for those sitting the March 2021 registration assessment.

A total of 2666 candidates sat the registration assessment on 17 and 18 March 2021, with 2352 candidates who passed the assessment; an overall pass rate of 88.2%. Since 2011, pass rates for the registration assessment have ranged from 72% to 95%.
1310 candidates sat the assessment on 17 March, with a pass rate of 90.2%. On 18 March, 1356 candidates sat the assessment, with a pass rate of 86.4%.

The registration assessment was postponed from June 2020 and moved online, in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full analysis from the March 2021 registration assessment will be discussed by the GPhC Council in May.

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:

“Congratulations to the candidates who passed our recent online registration assessment. This truly is a great achievement, particularly given the challenges these candidates faced. I also want to thank the tutors, education and training providers and employers who supported candidates throughout this extremely difficult year.

“We know that candidates who haven’t passed this sitting will be very disappointed. We hope the guidance we have developed will help them understand their options for next steps and are grateful to all of the organisations and individuals across pharmacy who will also provide them with support and advice. 

“We expect there are a number of factors that may have contributed to this relatively high pass rate. This year has obviously been very different compared to previous years and it is not possible to determine with any degree of certainty which factors would have had the most significant impact. 

“We are confident that we have maintained the overall standard required to pass both sittings and that all successful candidates have suitably demonstrated the knowledge, skills and experience needed to practise safely and effectively. We wish the successful candidates all the best in their future careers.”

Further information and statistics

March 2021 summary statistics

Candidates Number % of total
Total number of candidates 2666 100%
Number of first time sitter 2398 90.0%
(of which were provisionally registered) (2281) (77.4%)
Number of second time sitters 142 5.3%
Number of third time sitters 126 4.7%
Candidate performance - pass rates     
First sitting candidates - pass 2151 80.7%
(of which were provisionally registered - pass) (2063) (77.3%)
Second time sitters - pass 100 3.8%
Third time sitters - pass 101 3.8%
Individual sitting performance    
17 March - pass  1181 44.3%
18 March - pass 1171 43.9%
Overall pass  2352 88.2%
Overall fail 314 11.8%

Registration assessment results 2011-2019 (June sittings)

Pass rates are rounded to the nearest whole number

Registration year Total sitting Total passing Pass rate
2019 2942 2128 72%
2018 2942 2318 79%
2017 2823 2208 78%
2016 2804 2672 95%
2015 2811 2077 74%
2014 2552 2175 85%
2013 2579 1999 78%
2012 2475 2342 95%
2011 2357 2015 86%

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. Without exception, all questions and papers are mapped on to the GPhC’s registration assessment framework to ensure they refect 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. 

The sittings on 17 March and 18 March were reviewed and marked separately from each other. The pass marks and pass rates for the registration assessments held on the 17 March and 18 March were not compared against each other and then adjusted. Separate sets of candidates sat each of these assessments. While pass rates might vary between the cohorts through differing individual performance, the standard to pass remains the same for both cohorts.

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

Notes to editors

For further breakdown of the March 2021 results, please see our supplementary document. [PDF 225 KB]