Pre-registration Manual

5. The registration assessment


5.1  The registration assessment explained

The registration assessment is one of the ways we test whether you can demonstrate that you understand how to apply knowledge appropriately and in a timely way, to make professional judgements in pharmacy practice. It also tests your number sense and that you are able to perform the calculations needed to practise as a pharmacist.

The assessment makes sure that all trainees have reached the same minimum standard of ability, no matter where they have trained in Great Britain. Passing the assessment is part of the overall criteria for registration as a pharmacist. There are two separate papers to the assessment. You can have three attempts to pass the assessment, and must pass both papers in the same sitting.

This national examination is usually held during the last week of June and the last week of September, at several venues.

The registration assessment regulations set out key information and rules that cover the assessment. They are updated every year and issued before the first sitting of the year.

The registration assessment specification sets out how the assessment will be run and will help you decide if you need to request a reasonable adjustment.

The registration assessment framework sets out the outcomes that will be tested and gives an idea of some of the topics this may cover.

The registration assessment is set and moderated by an independent board of assessors.

5.2  Qualifying for the registration assessment

You can only be considered for entry to the registration assessment once you have achieved a week-39 progress report that is marked as satisfactory. If you are marked as unsatisfactory at the week-39 point, you may need to take the assessment at a later date. You should develop an action plan – including SMART objectives – to help you deal with your shortfalls against the performance standards.

You will be judged against the same principles in your week-39 review as in the previous reviews. This judgement will be based on the quality of your evidence and performance, and must not be made more lenient so that you can enter the registration assessment.

We will allocate you to one of the venues where you can sit the assessment. You can find out about the venues on our website.

We will allocate a provisional place at one of the assessment venues to all trainees who may meet the eligibility criteria to sit the assessment. We will write to these trainees to let them know where they have been allocated a place, but if you receive this letter, it does not mean you have been entered into the assessment. You will still need to submit an application form by the deadline on the key dates page, and show that you meet the eligibility criteria to sit the assessment.

Visit the main GPhC website to find out about applying for the registration assessment, including the full eligibility criteria.

5.3 Structure of the registration assessment

The registration assessment is in two parts. Each part is a separate paper, and you will sit them on the same day: one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

The topics covered by the assessment are set out in the registration assessment framework.

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. Candidates must achieve the pass mark or above for each paper in order to demonstrate that they have achieved the required standard for safe and effective practice.

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 all sectors and are based in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The standard setting panel reviews each question in relation to difficulty and this process produces a provisional pass mark for each paper.

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. You can find out more about how the papers are put together and find out more about how they are marked on our website. You can also find out more about how the registration assessment paper is developed and also how the papers are marked in our YouTube video presentations.

Reference sources

You won’t need to bring reference sources to the assessment. You will use only the reference sources provided in the resource pack. Click here to see the layout template for a resource pack.

Examples of possible reference sources include:

  • extracts from a British National Formulary (BNF)
  • a Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC)
  • diagrams and photographs
  • a medication chart.

Part one

Part One is the morning paper. It is made up of 40 calculation questions, and the time allowed to complete the paper is 120 minutes (2 hours). Click here for an example of the rubric for Part One.

You will be able to use calculators in this part of the registration assessment. 

You will need to bring your own calculator to the assessment. You must bring one of these models:

You will only be able to bring in a calculator listed above. Other types of calculators, mobile phones and other ‘connected’ devices will not be allowed for calculating in any circumstances.

You will need to bring your own calculator to the assessment and you are responsible for making sure that it works on the day. You may want to consider bringing a spare as there will be no replacement calculators provided on the day.

You will write your answers to the questions on an answer sheet, which will include the correct units for each question. We will only award marks for a correct answer and not for any rough working. 

See an example of the answer sheet

Watch our video presentation on how to complete your answer sheet

An example of a part one question is below - click to view full-size.

You can find more information about the questions in Part  One in our You Tube video series, and There are part one question examples here.

Part two

Part two is the afternoon paper.

It has 120 questions, and the time allowed to complete the paper is 150 minutes (2.5 hours). Click here for an example of the rubric for Part Two.

The paper is made up of ‘selected response’ questions. This means that for each question, you will need to choose one answer from a list of options. There will also be questions to test your number sense, but you are not allowed to use calculators for this paper. Your calculator(s) must be stored with your belongings, away from your workstation, during Part 2.

Two question formats will be used in part two: ‘single best answer’ (SBA) and ‘extended matching’ questions (EMQ). In a part two paper there will be 90 SBA questions and 30 EMQ questions.

See an example of the answer sheet

Watch our video presentation on how to complete your answer sheet

Single best answer questions

An example of a single best answer question is below - click to view full-size.

An SBA question has three parts: a scenario, a question and five answer options.

For this type of question the candidate must select the single best answer from the five options. Each question has one best answer, but there may be other answers that are plausible but are not the best answer – these are, therefore, incorrect.

Extended matching questions

An example of an extended matching question is below - click to view full-size.

An EMQ has four parts: a theme, a list of answer options, an instruction and a number of scenarios.

Candidates should choose the best option from the list provided. Between 6 and 12 options will be provided. Each option may be used once, more than once or not at all. Typically between two and five questions will be grouped together. This is an example of an extended matching question:

You can find more information about the questions in Part Two in our You Tube video series. There are more part two questions here.