What Reference Sources Are Used in the GPhC Exam?

GPhC Pre-Reg Exam Preparation Specialists

There are two key points to consider regarding references. One is – what do you need to bring, if anything? The other is – what is provided for you?

In terms of whether or not you need to bring anything to the exam, you don’t need to bring any reference sources. You do need to bring some items with you, which are covered in our separate article on what to bring with you for the exam. 

Considering reference sources, you will be provided with specific items. That means you don’t be given an entire book, for example.

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Reference Sources in the GPhC Exam

The GPhC site lists the following as likely reference sources:

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

These sources are provided to you as an ‘extract booklet.’ This reduces the amount of extraneous information – everything you need to know is contained within the booklet. You might also expect to see extracts from the BNF for children, for example, or from patient records. The goal with the references is to assess how well candidates can apply their learning to realistic practice scenarios. SPCs should be studied before the exam – they are published for all legal drugs, be that prescription only, drugs available over the counter in a pharmacy, or drugs on the general sale list. You ought to familiarise yourself with SPCs, what they cover, and what the most important pieces of information to extract from them are.

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Revision Using other Sources

It’s also worth considering other common types of reference material used in pharmacy. Beyond the BNF, and the BNF for children, commonly used reference materials include:

Martindale: The complete drug reference
– This provides information on conventional and complementary drugs, proprietary names used internationally, and treatments for disease

Clarke’s Analysis of drugs and poisons
– This is the definitive source of information for drugs and poisons. This can be used by everyone form hospital pharmacists through to forensic toxicologist and forensic laboratories

– Stockley’s Drug Interactions
– This is the world’s most comprehensive reference on drug interactions. It provides evidence based information on interactions, covering therapeutic drugs, proprietary medicines, herbal medicines, and drugs of abuse.

British and European Pharmacopoeias
– This provides quality standards for UK Pharmaceutical substances and European products as well, according to EU law.

The above are unlikely to be used in the exam itself, but are great sources of information, and if you can get access to them through the hospital library, for example, are a good way of familiarising yourself with the challenge of finding information fast from a source that you might not be used to using.

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