Understanding when to withdraw and when to nullify for the November 2021 assessment

The GPhC has issued guidance regarding the process leading up to the assessments to be held on the 16 November, including practice questions and information for the day of the exam.

Mon 8th November 2021 The PDA

There is separate guidance for candidates sitting in a test centre and for those sitting remotely. The PDA is asking that those taking the exams in November 2021, please read this guidance carefully.

Fit to Sit

Only sit the assessment if you feel fit to do so.

That means you declare that you do not know of any reason why you cannot sit the assessment and perform to your best.

You may decide that you are not ‘fit to sit’ and choose to withdraw if:

  • The pandemic has impacted on your health and wellbeing
  • You do not feel prepared to sit
  • You have been unwell in the lead-up to the assessment.

You can withdraw between now and at any point before you sign the nondisclosure agreement at the workstation. The PDA would advise that you consider your decision and make the best choice for you.

There are some issues that may arise nearer to the time of the assessment or on the day of the assessment itself and you have options to withdraw or nullify depending on the circumstances.


Here are some examples of situations in which you may decide to withdraw from the assessment:

  • Your mental or physical health declines prior to the exam
  • You or a member of your family test positive for Covid-19
  • You or your family have been asked to isolate
  • You or your family have been exposed to Covid-19 without PPE
  • You feel you haven’t had adequate time to revise
  • You do not feel mentally prepared to sit your assessment
  • You have not had enough time off to revise and do not feel prepared
  • You do not feel physically well which may impact on your performance
  • Transport issues which means you do not arrive at the test centre in time
  • You do not have the correct ID
  • You do not have the correct equipment.

*see GPhC guidance for further information regarding Covid-19 exposure.

When considering how you feel, try to recall how you have felt in ‘normal’ exam circumstances and whether your worries and anxiety are different to this. Many people experience ‘exam nerves.’

Remember that you can withdraw right up until the start of the exam if you do not sit the assessment and leave before completing the fit to sit declarations.


Here are some examples of situations in which you may decide to nullify your assessment:

  • Your calculator breaks
  • You have technology issues
  • You are suddenly taken ill during the exam
  • You cannot complete the exam online due to other issues
  • There is a problem or incident which impacts on your performance during either of the exams.

And if you are a remote sitter:

  • You are not able to connect to Pearson OnVue within 30 minutes of your start time
  • You drink from a non-transparent cup (you are only allowed to drink from a transparent cup)
  • You need to leave the room
  • Anyone other than you enter the room during the exams
  • Your IT equipment fails
  • A health or other issue that happens on the day and has hindered your performance.

Remember that whatever problems or incidents you have, you must make your invigilator aware during the assessment and submit a nullification request.

What you will need

To sit at a test centre To sit remotely
Calculator – specific models only Calculator – specific models only
Face mask Mobile phone – only to be used to provide an online sweep of the room to the online proctor and to speak to the online proctor
ID documents ID documents
Clear bottle of water if you want a drink Wipeable whiteboard and non-permanent pen
Items permitted at your workstation

Learn more

It is really important that you spend 5 minutes reading the GPhC on the day guidance which can be found here.

There is separate on the day guidance available for those sitting from home and those sitting in an assessment centre.

Related links


Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, pre-regs and for the first three months of being provisionally registered/newly qualified.


Read about our key member benefits here.











The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

Cookie Use

This website uses cookies to help us provide the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent to our use of cookies.

General Guidance Resources Surveys PDA Campaigns Regulations Locums Indemnity Arrangements Pre-Regs & Students FAQs Coronavirus (COVID-19)