Results of September 2016 registration assessment

There were 660 candidates who sat our registration assessment in September, with 269 candidates who passed the assessment; a pass rate of 40.76 per cent.

See the registration assessment pass list here.

There were 393 candidates who sat the assessment for the first time; 135 for the second time and 132 for the third time.  Pre-registration trainee pharmacists are permitted three attempts at the registration assessment.

This was the second sitting of the assessment using a new format and methodology, following the first sitting in June 2016.

The total pass rate for all candidates who sat the registration assessment in 2016 is 84.93%. In previous years, the overall pass rate for the year has ranged between 71.38% and 89.54%.

After each sitting, the board of assessors reviews the results, including an analysis of the performance of all questions, and prepares a report for the GPhC Council.

In its report, the board noted that the pass rate for the September sitting was lower than in the June sitting and considered potential factors that may have contributed towards the lower pass rate.

One factor identified in the report is the higher number of candidates sitting for the second or third time in September compared with June. In the September sitting 41% were sitting for the second or third time, having been unsuccessful in previous attempts, compared to 7% in the June sitting.

An additional factor is that significant numbers of first sitting candidates sat in September either because they chose to withdraw in June or were ineligible to sit at that stage because they had started their pre-registration training late, after having failed the first sitting of their MPharm finals or for other reasons.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said:

“I want to congratulate the candidates who passed this year’s registration assessment and wish them all the best for their future careers.

“The registration assessment remains an important tool for us to ensure that only those candidates who have the knowledge and skills to practise safely and effectively can join the register.

“Each assessment is carefully set so that only the candidates who demonstrate the required knowledge and understanding can pass and be eligible for registration. The Board of Assessors also carries out a thorough analysis after each sitting to make sure outcomes are fair and consistent.”

Updated on 1 November 2016:

The standard a pre-registration trainee must achieve to pass the registration assessment remains the same across each sitting. The pass mark for each paper varies from sitting to sitting depending on the combined difficulty of the questions; this is to make sure that the assessment is fair and that the standard is maintained. Before agreeing pass marks for each paper, the board of assessors undertakes a full review of the performance of the questions, and the papers as a whole. This includes statistical analysis of the relative level of difficulty.

The pass mark for each part of the assessment is arrived at using an evidence-based standard setting process -  a recognised method used by examination bodies to derive pass marks for papers in order to apply a set standard across sittings. When preparing assessment papers, a standard-setting panel of pharmacists assesses the standard of each question in each of the papers. Panel members all have first-hand experience of working with recently qualified and preregistration trainee pharmacists. Members work in hospital or community pharmacy and are based in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The standard setting panel review each question in relation to difficulty and this process produces a provisional pass mark for each paper.

The final percentage pass mark for each paper is calculated using a formula, and candidates must achieve this percentage or above in order to demonstrate they have achieved the required standard for safe and effective practice in the assessment.

September 2016 sitting

Part 1 –  65.25% pass mark

For part 1, one mark was awarded for each correct answer. In order to achieve the pass percentage for part 1 candidates needed to achieve 27 marks or above out of 40 (or 67.5%). Those achieving 26 marks (65.0%) failed to meet the pass criteria for this part of the assessment.

Part 2 – 65.45% pass mark

For part 2, one mark was awarded for each correct answer.  In order to achieve the pass percentage for part 2, candidates needed to achieve 76 marks or above out of 115 (or 66.1%). Those achieving 75 marks (65.2%) failed to meet the pass criteria for this part of the assessment. (NB - 5 of the 120 questions in this paper were removed by the board of assessors at the post assessment review stage).

Candidates must achieve the pass mark for both the part 1 and part 2 papers in the same sitting to achieve an overall pass. No compensation is given between papers and marks are not averaged between papers.

Further information on the creation and marking of registration papers can be found on our website at

Sittings prior to 2016

For sittings before 2016, the assessment papers were of a different style, with a different numbers of questions per paper,  with a different time allowance. Candidates previously had to achieve 70% overall in the two papers, as well as 70% in the calculations section.

More information about the changes to the assessment for 2016 can be found on our website.