Quality Assurance

In the Know: The New Knowledge Assessment for Part A Pharmacists

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March 18, 2022 update: In recognition of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and to support evaluation of the latest component of the College’s Quality Assurance Program, Part A pharmacists’ 2022 participation in the new open-book Knowledge Assessment will be by expression of interest only, with random selection initiating in 2023. The expression of interest deadline was March 18, 2022. 

Beginning in May 2022, pharmacists in Part A of the Register will be selected once every five years to undergo an online knowledge assessment developed by peer pharmacists. The knowledge assessment is an open-book, multiple-choice question educational activity focusing on patient care, ethics and professionalism.

The purpose of the knowledge assessment is to encourage continuing professional development by supporting pharmacists to identify any gaps in their knowledge and seek appropriate education or resources to address those areas for development. The knowledge assessment is intended to be an educational and positive experience for registrants. Ultimately, the goal of the knowledge assessment is to foster continuing competency among pharmacists to help optimize the health outcomes of the patients they serve.

A component of the College’s Quality Assurance Program—a mandatory program under statute for all healthcare regulators in Ontario—the knowledge assessment will assess pharmacists’ ability to apply clinical knowledge as well as current legislation, ethics and scope of practice to patient care scenarios. The knowledge assessment is a confidential process and results are not shared with pharmacists’ employers or colleagues.


With a focus on engagement and learning, the knowledge assessment works alongside the other elements of the Quality Assurance Program (learning portfolio, self-assessment and practice assessment) to drive enhanced patient outcomes.

The key objectives of the knowledge assessment for Part A pharmacists are to:

  • Promote and encourage ongoing education and learning;
  • Evaluate the knowledge and skills of pharmacists in providing appropriate care through a standardized computer-based assessment;
  • Encourage continuing professional development by supporting pharmacists in identifying any learning needs and seek appropriate education or resources to address those areas for development; and
  • Protect the public through identifying appropriate remediation where there has been an identified need that may pose a risk to patients.


The knowledge assessment will use a multiple choice question format and can be taken remotely from a home or workplace. Selected registrants may access the online assessment any time over a one-month period and can reference resources of their choice. Accessing appropriate resources reflects real practice where pharmacists are expected to use current, reliable, and evidence-based references to support patient care. Once the assessment begins, registrants have ample time – up to three hours – to complete the assessment.

The focus of this quality assurance activity is engagement and learning, and there will be no direct supervision (i.e., unproctored) during the remote online assessment. The College expects that pharmacists will complete the assessment honestly.


The knowledge assessment is based on a blueprint set by pharmacist practitioners that focuses on clinical knowledge, jurisprudence, ethical decision-making and current issues in pharmacy, and asks pharmacists to apply relevant information to make patient care decisions.

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Current, evidence-based multiple choice questions are developed and reviewed by peer pharmacists with experience in community, hospital and other practice settings. These case-based questions encourage pharmacists to apply evidence-based clinical knowledge, as well as current jurisprudence knowledge, ethics and professionalism to patient care.

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A working group of peer pharmacists develop the cases and questions and set standards for questions to reflect the level of difficulty of each question. These standards are used to establish a pass score for each assessment.

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Pharmacists identify and use relevant information and appropriate resources to inform their answers for each question.


All pharmacists in Part A of the Register will be selected to take the unproctored knowledge assessment approximately once every five years. Those who have completed a self-assessment in 2020 or 2021 will not be selected in 2022 for the knowledge assessment. Pharmacists selected for the knowledge assessment will receive a letter from the College in early 2022 informing them of next steps on how to prepare for the May 2022 knowledge assessment.


Pharmacists should review the knowledge assessment blueprint prior to their assessment. The blueprint describes the key topics and competencies that will be assessed and provides topic examples. In addition to the blueprint, recommended resources include:

  • e-learning modules, including Code of Ethics and jurisprudence
  • CPhA’s therapeutic information database RxTx – CPS
  • The online tutorial and sample assessment that will be made available prior to the assessment.


To successfully complete the assessment, a pharmacist’s performance must meet or exceed the final pass score that is set using a criterion-referenced pass/fail standard. While similar, the pass score varies with each knowledge assessment based on the questions that are selected and reflects the overall level of difficulty of a particular knowledge assessment. This process helps standardize different assessments.

Pharmacists will have access to their results immediately after completing the assessment. If a pharmacist passes the knowledge assessment, they will not be selected for another knowledge assessment for approximately five years.

Because this is an activity focused on learning, pharmacists who are unsuccessful have another opportunity to retake the assessment in the same month. Prior to retaking the knowledge assessment, pharmacists are encouraged to take time to review appropriate materials and areas of improvement. If unsuccessful on their second attempt (reassessment), registrants will be directed to take a proctored knowledge assessment after a period of remediation.

Proctored Knowledge Assessment

Part A pharmacists who have been unsuccessful at a knowledge reassessment or a practice reassessment, and Part B pharmacists requesting to move to Part A of the Register, will need to undergo the knowledge assessment online with a remote proctor.

<strong>KEY TAKEAWAY</strong>
The knowledge assessment is another educational tool for pharmacists to help support their delivery of safe, quality patient care. The goal of the knowledge assessment is to encourage ongoing learning and optimize patient health outcomes. The knowledge assessment is designed to be a low-stress activity—its flexible, open-book, online format gives pharmacists the option to complete the assessment at home or at their workplace while referencing resources of their choice in an unproctored environment.

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