The FAQs below apply to all exams, the Certificate and Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine and the Certificate and Diploma in Human Pharmacology.
They will be updated from time to time to ensure that any further questions are disseminated to all candidates sitting these exams. For any questions not covered by this FAQ please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about answering the exam questions online
You may have 1 or 2 pages of blank paper (max A4) and pen so you can make notes during the exam. You will be required to show these to the invigilator before the exam starts.
For written exams, you will have the option to format your answers.
Click here to see an example of the answer box from the short answer question paper. The same formatting options are available for the critical appraisal exam.
Click here to see what the critical exam article, question and answer box looks like online.
For the critical appraisal exam, you are provided with an article about which you answer questions. You will be able to highlight the article and add notes to it and it will remain visible as you answer the exam questions.
Click here to see how to highlight and add notes to the Critical Appraisal article.
There are 10 questions for the DPM SAQ exam but each question part is on one page to make it easier to read. The question stem is repeated at the top of each page (if necessary) and then the question part. The max parts a question has is five, but most have three or four parts.
After starting the exam, if you are not sure about how to use the online system, ask your invigilator for help.
If there is a question about an exam paper during the exam (for example, “Question 3 does not make sense, I think the XX should be X and not Y”), you should inform the invigilator and continue with the exam.
This query will be passed to an FPM examiner who will provide any guidance necessary to all candidates via the invigilators.
Questions about getting ready to take your online exam
It is very useful to try out the system before you sit your examination. Once you have downloaded the TestReach application, you can access a ‘test tutorial’ so you can be familiar with how it feels to answer exam questions in TestReach. You can take this tutorial as many times as you like.
In the weeks leading up to the exam date, you will be asked to download the TestReach application and TestReach will contact you directly to run a system check. This will ensure that your computer and system is set up to support a remotely invigilated exam. See system requirements in ‘What equipment do I need to sit an online remote invigilated exam?’
The Exam Protocols detail what you are permitted and not permitted to do during the exam.
Before the start of the exam, the invigilator will check that the correct person is sitting the exam by checking your photo ID.
Next, the invigilators will secure the test environment by asking you to use your webcam or mobile phone to pan the room. They will be checking that there is nothing in the room that is not permitted in the exam such as text books, study aids pinned to walls or your monitor.
When the exam begins, the system is locked to avoid internet searches during the test. In other words, you will remain within the test screen at all times for the duration of the exam. During this time, you will be watched by the invigilator in the same way an invigilator watches over an exam hall.
If needed, after the exam, the invigilator will notify FPM of any issues that arose during the exam, for example, candidate behaviour that breaks the rules of the exam. Again, the same process that happens in the exam hall.
If for example your exam is due to start at 9:30am, when you register for your exam with TestReach you may be asked to select an invigilator connect time of 9:45am.
In order to give the invigilators time to get all of our candidates checked and ready to start the exam, they will divide the candidates into two groups. Group 1 will connect with their invigilator at 9:30am and Group 2 will connect at 9:45am.
The exam will begin after you have connected with your invigilator so if you are in the 9:45am group, you will start your exam at 9:45am and will still get the full time allowance to complete the exam.
Candidates are advised to be in their chosen exam location 20 to 30 minutes before their scheduled exam start time in order to login, enter exam and go through the system checks. 15 minutes before exam, the “connect” option will activate, and candidates can click on this to commence the pre- validation process.
Candidates will be permitted to start their the exam up to 30 minutes after the scheduled start time. The duration of their exam remains the same. If a candidate has not connected within 30 minutes, their exam will expire and they will not be able to do the exam.
If a candidate’s equipment fails on exam day, then there are some troubleshooting steps that the TestReach support team can work through, see ‘Who do I contact if I have technical issues on the test day?’
In the unlikely event that you are unable to start or complete your exam due to technical issues which TestReach are unable to resolve, FPM will rebook your exam at the next available sitting at no charge, but you will not be entitled to a refund.
IMPORTANT: If you are unable to start or complete your exam due to technical difficulties with your PC/laptop or WiFi connection, FPM CANNOT provide you with another opportunity to take this exam (or an alternative version of this exam) at a later time or the next day.
You may visit the bathroom once during the exam. You must inform the invigilator that you are going to the bathroom and you must not be away from the exam for more than 5 minutes. The invigilator will note the amount of time you are away from the exam area, they will monitor you upon your return and note any changes in behaviour after the break.
You cannot accidentally shut down the exam once our secure computer lockdown feature is turned on so the only way to end the test is by actually submitting it. You have the option to submit the exam at any point and there is a double confirm (ie “Are you sure you wish to end the test?”). Like a pen and paper test, you can end the exam early if you wish.
General questions about online exams
We are using the exam papers prepared for the written exams using our usual procedures this year. Instead of writing answers using pen and paper, or in the case of multiple choice, using an MCQ answer sheet, everything is done electronically on a computer. Depending on the questions types, you might be selecting the answer by clicking your mouse or using your keyboard to enter data.
Online remote invigilation (also know as proctoring) essentially recreates the exam hall experience online. Candidates sit the exam online at a place of their choosing, such as the home or workplace, using their own hardware. The exam is invigilated by a proctor who will watch a maximum of 6 candidates at any one sitting. The proctor is not visible to candidates but you can communicate with them throughout the exam.
Restrictions on social gathering may prevent exams running at exam centres for some time. Online exams and invigilation means you are not required to travel to the London exam centre and removes the possibility of having to postpone the exams. TestReach have been carefully selected by FPM as the provider for these exams and they are providing the same service for other Colleges such as the RCoA.
The application period opens on Monday 1 March and closes Friday 6 August 2021.
If you are planning to take the Certificate in Pharmaceutical Medicine (CPM) or Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine (DPM), you need to be registered on the FPM website and then go to the the CPM or DPM webpage to book.
When you book an exam we will confirm we have received your application and send final confirmation of your exam entry by 20 August. Approximately two weeks before your exam, you will receive an admissions notice confirming your exam date and time, as well as instructions for setting you up for an online exam.
Certificate and Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine
CPM/DPM Part 1 Paper 1 (MCQ) – 15 September 2021 09:00 – 11:30
DPM Part 2 Paper 2 (SAQ) – 11 October 2021 09:00 – 11:30
DPM Part 2 Paper 3 (CAP) – 12 October 2021 09:00 – 11:30
Certificate and Diploma in Human Pharmacology
CHP/DHP Paper 1 (MCQ) – 26 October 2021 09:00 – 12:00
DHP Paper 2 (MCQ) – 27 October 2021 09:00 – 11:30
DHP Paper 3 (SAQ) – 27 October 2021 14:00 – 16:30
All times are as for the UK so GMT (BST).
You do not need any special equipment for a remotely invigilated exam, a standard desktop or laptop (no chrome books, tablets or surface pros) with a webcam, a microphone and good quality internet connectivity will suffice.
All of the key requirements are checked during the system check process and in the unlikely event of any issues, these will be brought to your attention and can be resolved well in advance of exam day. TestReach technical support is also available to assist during standard office hours (9:00-17:30 GMT), if required.
The following minimum system requirements are needed:
• Intel Core i3 (or equivalent) and 4GB RAM
• A working webcam*
• A working microphone and speakers
• Good continuous internet speed of 516kbps or higher
• They also recommend a screen size of at least 13″ and a resolution of 1024 x 768
• A MAC OS or Windows operating system only
*In order for the invigilator to be able to scan the room, you need to be able to either pick up your laptop or have a webcam which you can detach.
Candidates who do not have a suitable set up could borrow equipment or take the exam in a different location such as your workplace.
Our examinations only require short answers therefore candidates should not anticipate an issue with timing. Typing will also remove the legibility issues associated with handwriting. You will not be penalised for poor spelling but should ensure that the answer you wish to put is recognisable. If you require adjustments for a computer-based exam, you will need to provide documentary evidence to support your request, such as a certificate or letter from their general practitioner, specialist or an expert report from clinical/educational psychologist. This should be submitted to FPM when you book your exam entry, see FPM’s Reasonable Adjustment Policy .
All FPM examinations will be delivered electronically for 2021.
If you are unable to take an online exam, you may request to take a pen and paper exam. The test centre is the FPM offices in London* and we are unable to accept requests to take a pen and paper exam at other venues.
*This assumes that travel and small gatherings of people are permitted at the time of the exam.
The ratio for online invigilation is 1 invigilator for every 6 candidates, less than in the exam hall. A candidate’s test environment is scrutinised by the remote invigilator before the start of the exam and the exam will not start unless this environment meets the agreed criteria. The rules for the delivery of the exam will be set by FPM and passed to the TestReach invigilators. Candidates’ browsers are locked down to prevent navigation away from the test screen. Once the exam starts, the invigilator watches over the candidate for the duration of the exam. Candidate behaviour is closely monitored during the exam by the invigilator, who will be trained in body language. The exam is also recorded so it can be reviewed by FPM after the exam if necessary. Any concerning behaviour is noted by the invigilator and sent to FPM to be investigated.
This is not possible. We need to maintain the security of the examination, therefore you are required to take the exam on a specified date and time.
However, if you live in a country with a time difference to the UK of four hours or more, we may be able to vary the start of your exam by up to two hours, see ‘I live in Australia/USA/India, can my exam start time be changed to accommodate this?’
The exam start time can be varied by up to 2 hours if you live in a country with a time difference to the UK of four hours or more. If this applies to you, you must contact the exams team to request a change to the start time of your exam. However, we cannot guarantee that your exam start time can be changed as this depends an invigilator being available.
You do not have to sit the exam at home but we have found that some NHS and company firewalls can block the TestReach live
proctoring software and cause issues that don’t show up during the system check, so we strongly recommend that candidates make arrangements to sit the exam from home (using a personal computer).
If you are not able to take the exam at home any alternative venue is possible as long as it is a suitable test environment – a private room with a stable internet connection. Any relief in social distancing measures may also mean that childcare will be accessible by the time of the test. You should also look to your workplace for support with finding a suitable location.
When it comes to dealing with internet issues, TestReach has been architected so that remotely invigilated exams can be run at lower bandwidths with fluctuating internet speeds. On most occasions, internet issues are to do with fluctuations and it is very rare that the internet connection drops completely. There is a continual connection “heart beat” monitored between the candidate’s computer and TestReach’s central servers to ensure that the connection remains in place. This also ensures that a situation can never arise where, for example, the connection drops but the candidate continues to enter answer data which is not being saved. There is built in “smoothing”, so that if the internet speed fluctuates this does not adversely impact the candidate.
If the internet connection speed becomes too slow or does drop completely then a “shutter” comes down on the candidate’s screen, alerting them to the fact. At this point, a candidate cannot access their exam and the system will continually try to re-establish the connection for a period of up to 10 minutes. As soon as a connection is detected, the shutter will lift and the candidate can continue where they left off (usually fluctuations in internet speed only take a second or two to come back online). If the disconnection continues for more than 10 minutes, then their exam will automatically terminate. In this case TestReach support team can manually resume the candidate into the exam where they left off. Extra time is added if time is lost. A candidate may have their exam resumed up to a maximum of 3 times.
For any issues that arise on the exam day, the TestReach technical support numbers and emails are displayed so candidates can contact TestReach directly. Information on what to do if you have technical issues is covered in more detail in the Exam Protocols.
We recommend you save TestReach’s technical support email and phone number offline to so you have imediate access to them if needed during the exam.
If, despite the best efforts of TestReach to get you online, you are unable to start or complete your exam due to technical difficulties with your PC/laptop or WiFi connection, FPM CANNOT provide you with another opportunity to take this exam (or an alternative version of this exam) at a later time or the next day.
Most reasonable adjustments can be catered for in an online test, such as increased font size, coloured backgrounds, additional time and rest breaks. Please refer to the examination regulations for guidance on reasonable adjustments. The normal process will apply: Each request for reasonable adjustments will be considered on an individual basis and agreed formally prior to the test. If you have special requirements for an online test, please contact the exams team directly.
No. To ensure that the test is fair, question performance is scrutinised by groups of examiners after each exam. You will be advised when the results are released in your exam entry confirmation.