Written Exam

The written examination is compulsory for intern pharmacists seeking registration in Australia. Set by the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC), this national exam is a computer-based assessment held six times a year. Completion of at least 30% of the required hours of supervised practice is essential before candidates sit this exam.

Exam structure

A total of 125 multiple choice questions are to be attempted over 3 hours. The exam consists of:

  • Forensics/ethics questions
  • Calculation questions
  • Practice-based (clinical) questions (which are stand alone or based on a patient profile)

Permissible references [Updated in 2013]

The written exam is an open book exam. Following a decision by the Australian Pharmacy Council Examining Committee in December 2012, candidates are permitted to bring whatever printed materials they wish. However, electronic references are strictly not permitted.

The following reference materials are highly recommended:

  • The Pharmacy Board of Australia's Codes and and Guidelines, including the required reference list
  • Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH)
  • Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary (APF)
  • the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP), formerly known as the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Drugs and Poisons (SUSDP)
  • relevant state or territory drugs and poisons legislation (relevant commonwealth and/or state/territory Acts and Regulations)
  • article "Supplying Medicines - What Pharmacists Need to Know"

These texts may be highlighted or flagged but annotations, handwritten notes and loose additional notes are strictly not permitted.

Candidates may bring a non-programmable battery operated scientific calculator without an alphabet keyboard into the examination room. An online calculator will also be available on the computer.

Click here for direct links to some of these resources.

Minimum pass requirements

To pass the written examination, an overall total of at least 65% must be achieved. This includes a minimum of:

  • 60% in both the forensics/ethics and calculation sections (Areas 1 and 5 of the Competency Standards for Pharmacists in Australia), and
  • 50% in the clinical sections (Areas 2, 4 and 6 of the Competency Standards for Pharmacists in Australia).

Exam preparation

The Medicine Box strongly recommends the use of a variety of comprehensive, evidence-based and peer-reviewed reference texts for exam preparation as well as in general practice. Our study resources should not be used as a substitute for these texts.

Material prepared by the Medicine Box serves as an example of one way in which study notes can be compiled. We strongly recommend for pharmacy students and intern pharmacists to prepare their own notes, tailored to their studies and practice as a pharmacist.

Please refer to our study notes page for clinical topics.



Note: The written examination now replaces the former APCAT and NFEC exam.

For specific details on exam dates and changes to exam structure, please refer to the Australian Pharmacy Council website.

Disclaimer: The Medicine Box is unaffiliated with the Pharmacy Board of Australia, the former Pharmacy Board of NSW, the Australian Pharmacy Council or the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. All information published by us has not been verified by the above organisations.