Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Prepare for your pre-reg assessment with these 10 steps

With the September pre-registration exam just around the corner we have put together a step by step guide to help you prepare for your assessment. Whether you are sitting the assessment for the first or second time, these 10 useful steps will help you prepare and stay focused on the day.

  1. Read the GPhC assessment registration syllabus
    Set aside time to read through each part of the GPhC handbook, highlighting any gaps in your knowledge and skills. Devise a plan or an objective list on how you intend to cover these gaps and increase your knowledge base in these areas.
    If you are resitting the assessment, use this period as an opportunity to reflect. Read the GPhC feedback provided from your first attempt and match the areas identified with the syllabus to identify where you need to improve.
  2. Tag your BNF appropriately
    Putting tags into the most useful sections of your BNF can save you vital time in the assessment and ensure you’ll find required information quickly. Read through the guidance pages at the front of the BNF and BNFC and tag any relevant tables and guidance throughout. Good sections to cover include the equivalency tables regarding antipsychotics (4.2.1), benzodiazepines (4.1.1), opioids (prescribing in palliative care), iron equivalencies (, and steroids (6.3.2). Also noteworthy are the tables regarding which drugs to avoid in acute porphyria’s (9.8.2), and the quantities for creams (13.4), although there are many more.
    Go through and review your reference sources before the assessment, ensure you have annotated and tagged the sources effectively so you can quickly refer to the exact page. Quality is more important than quantity, remember you want key aspects to stick out and be easy to find.
  3. Familiarise yourself with all resources
    Make a list of all the resources you are expected to know before the assessment, cover this list and know the key resources in depth, such as the MEP, BNF and BNFC. Look at the GPhC website, keep up to date with any changes you may need to know for the assessment. You are expected to be familiar with the GPhC’s standards of conduct, ethics and performance, as well as the GPhC’s guidance documents. One of the new resources in this year’s assessment is the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC). Print out some example SPC using the Electronic Medicines Compendium (EMC). Go through the layout and contents to familiarise yourself with what type of information is contained in each section. It’s good to know where to locate the side effects, contra-indications, and storage instructions.
  4. Practice, practice, practice!
    The GPhC publishes learning points from previous assessments; these make great practice questions. Another great resource is OnTrack, which has 100s of questions to help you prepare for the exam (don’t forget to add your RPS number at checkout to get 30 days for free, or 50% off additional subscriptions). It’s a good idea to do at least two complete mock exam papers in the timed conditions you would in the exam, this will allow you to manage your time effectively as timing is a key aspect for assessment success.
  5. Use your pre-registration tutor
    Keep in touch with your pre-registration tutor in the run up to your assessment, they are a useful source of advice and can help cover any knowledge gaps. Talk though your learning objectives with them, as they may be able to help you with any issues you’re not clear on.
  6. Don’t panic during the assessment
    Read all the details on the front pages of the assessment paper and check you have filled in all your details correctly. Take a deep breath, stay calm and begin the exam. Remember, you’ve passed every assessment on the way up to this one, so you know the drill.
  7. Read the question properly in the assessment
    Read each question thoroughly, highlight any key words in the question and eliminate any extra information that may be used to set a scenario. Don’t be put off by large introductory paragraphs, read through and find the question that they’re asking.
  8. Give an answer to all questions in the assessment
    Answer the questions you are confident with first, do not spend too much time on questions you cannot answer. Place an asterisk (on your answer sheet) near any questions you are unable to answer, so you can identify these easily and come back to them later. If you are confused with a multiple choice question, try and answer the question without looking at the options, then pick an option that was closest to your answer. If you are really struggling with a question, choose what you think is the best possible answer as you may get it right. Remember, there is no negative marking!
  9. Complete the calculations first
    For the open book assessment it’s good to answer the calculations first. Go through all calculation steps carefully and transfer to the answer sheet afterwards. If you cannot answer a particular question first time then move onto the next; after you’ve warmed up your maths skills and look back with fresh eyes you may find it much easier, and quicker to answer. Make sure you are happy with your calculation answers before you move on to the open book part of the assessment.
  10. Allow yourself extra time at the end
    Try and give yourself 5-10 minutes at the end of each paper to go through and answer any questions you were unable to do first time, or weren’t that confident with. Check everything has been transcribed properly and you are happy with your answers, or have chosen the best possible option.

With the right preparation and approach to the assessment, you’ll find that the pre-registration assessment is certainly achievable. Stay positive – and good luck!

The RPS Support team is here to support you right up to the assessment, please get in touch if you need any assistance on 0207 572 2737 (9am-5pm Monday-Friday).


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