If you fail
Nobody likes to fail. If you fail the assessment it is only natural that you will feel disappointed. Feelings of anger, despair and disappointment are common; however, it is important to try to keep your perspective. You might find it useful to talk to a Listening Friend. Listening Friends is a free and confidential listening service staffed by pharmacists who are familiar with the particular pressures on those working in pharmacy. Listening Friends can be contacted direct on: 0808 168 5133.
Options after failing
Trainees who have failed the assessment can no longer request a re-mark. This is because the GPhC has introduced a new marking process consisting of five stage checking system that will ensure that all answers have been interpreted correctly. For further information on the new marking system, see the GPhC website.
Appeals can be submitted, however trainees will need to have sufficient grounds to do so.
The GPhC stress that an appeal can only be made on the basis of new information/circumstances coming to light that you could not have been aware of on the day. The GPhC website has examples of situations that will not be considered grounds for appeal. If something goes wrong on the day of the assessment you must inform the invigilator, and contact the GPhC as soon as possible to request a nullification.
Appeals are not accepted for anything that could have formed the basis of a request for nullification. Requests for appeals must be submitted, in writing, within 21 days of the date printed on the results letter.
Even if you are waiting for the outcome of an appeal, it is advisable that you register for your next attempt of the exam by the deadline date. If you have special requirements and need adjustments, such as extra time, you will need to put in a fresh application to the GPhC. You cannot carry over any adjustments agreed for a previous exam.
For full details about appeals, including the address to send them to, see the GPhC guidance booklet that is sent to you with your assessment results.
If you have failed twice
In order to undertake a third attempt at the assessment, a trainee will normally be required by the GPhC to undertake a further six month placement. The purpose of the six month period is to provide more pharmacy practice experience to prepare the trainee for the final assessment attempt. There are no minimum requirements as to the number of hours per week trainees have to work. The GPhC say trainees will need to decide how many hours per week they will need in order to pass the registration assessment.
Once trainees have found a suitable placement, they must then ensure that they get the approval of the GPhC, and complete the necessary paperwork, before beginning their placement. When contacting the GPhC, trainees should ask to speak to a member of the pre-registration team. Trainees will need to complete a Notification of six month placement form. This is available to download from the GPhC website.
At the end of the placement, the supervising pharmacist will need to sign a standard declaration form stating that the trainee has successfully completed the six month period and that they do not know of any reason that would prevent their registration as a pharmacist. This form is available to download on the GPhC website. The trainee must sit the assessment within 12 months of completion of the placement.
The six month placement does not have to be further training as a pre-registration trainee. For example, you could look for paid work as a counter assistant or dispenser, although you will need to ensure that there is a supervising pharmacist who is willing to sign the standard declaration at the end of your placement. The key point to remember about the six month placement is that trainees will need to be in a pharmacy environment, with access to current pharmacy knowledge. Equally, it must be a patient facing role, therefore internet pharmacies are not suitable for the additional six month placement.
For further guidance regarding the six month placement, see the GPhC website.
Financial difficulties following failed assessment
Requests for financial assistance can be considered by Pharmacist Support for those where hardship is evidenced, however the level of finance is limited. If you are currently experiencing hardship, do not hesitate to contact us. We can help you assess whether an application for financial assistance is the best route and discuss what other support might be available for you.
Pharmacist Support may also be able to help by referring you to a specialist Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) adviser for for debt and benefits advice. If you would like to be referred, contact us on our general enquiry line: 0808 168 2233, ask us a question via live chat or email us on:firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to find an additional placement
There are a number of places that you can look for vacancies, here are some suggestions.
Chemist and Druggist
C+D have a jobs section where you can see the latest vacancies. For further information, see their website.
National Pharmacy Association (NPA)
The NPA have an interactive map on their website that enables you to search by locality. For further information, see their website.
Pharmaceutical Journal (PJ)
The PJ has an on-line careers section that includes a job search section. For further information, see their website.
Our Looking for Work fact sheet includes a compilation of specialist pharmacist sites, locum agency sites and more general job sites.
If you have failed three times
If you have failed your pre-registration assessment three times, rest assured that there are a number of alternative options available to you. Remember that you do have a good science degree as well as your own skills, knowledge and experience and many graduate vacancies do not specify particular degree disciplines. Pharmacist Support’s Careers advice and options for pharmacy graduates fact sheet has information on getting careers advice and on career options, including alternative career suggestions such as teaching, further research and medical/scientific proof-reading.
Please note, you can also still submit an appeal if you meet the mitigating circumstances criteria.
The new assessment
Changes were introduced to the assessment in 2016. The GPhC replaced 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. Calculators are now allowed in paper one and there is a new type of multiple choice question. For further information about these changes, see our Pre-registration assessment fact sheet.