BCGP Pass Rate for Spring 2018 = 43%?!? What Gives?

BCGP Pass Rate

The BCGP pass rate has historically been excellent compared to BCPS, BCACP, critical care, etc.  I had a request from a follower to comment on this given the recent drop in the BCGP pass rate.

The BCGP credential has switched over to the BPS umbrella now.  Prior to the switch, pass rates were around the upper 70’s low 80’s%. Apparently this change had led to a skydive type fall in the pass rate.  I anticipated a drop, but not this much. BPS had a press release with the recent Spring 2018 pass rates and the BCGP pass rate was 43%!  With rates like that, you get the sense that participants would have been just as well off guessing “C” for all the questions. Obviously there is cause for concern if you are taking BCGP this fall, so I will provide some guidance on how to interpret this horrible BCGP Pass Rate and speculate why this might have happened.

The main question I was asked was about the significant drop in the number of participants taking the BCGP exam from 2017 to 2018.  I did alert many about the changes in the exam format and I think most were under the impression that the “old” CGP exam was going to be easier.  Many had emailed me in 2017 about the exam and if they should try to get it done before the format changed.  With that thought process, I believe there was a rush by many pharmacists to get their BCGP complete for fear that the exam would get much harder in 2018.  I do believe this played a role in a significantly larger number taking the exam in 2017 versus 2018.

The 2018 format is naturally going to be harder.  The number of answers to each question switched from 3 to 4.  I also suspect that the BPS grading curve is a much stiffer one.  This is only speculation as I am not privy to what all plays into the scoring process.

BPS is kind of notorious about testing on biostatistics.  I wonder if there is a higher percentage of questions on this as well?

Many have signed up to take BCGP in the fall of 2018 and are excited to do so.  You may be a little more nervous seeing the 43% BCGP pass rate.  I would certainly make sure I am well prepared.  I’m a glass half full kind of guy, so at least you have about a 50/50 shot of passing this exam.  You have to review the content outline for the BCGP exam.  We have done our best to cover all of these topics in our study material to give you the best shot at passing this challenging exam.  Whichever study strategies and material you use, be sure to focus a good chunk of time on non-drug issues in relation to geriatrics.  Some examples listed as quoted from the BPS content outline include:

  • “The spectrum of aging from healthy aging to frailty
  • The physiological heterogeneity of older adults
  • Social issues (e.g., family, cultural, community, housing, access to care, policy issues, medication use)
  • Financial issues (e.g., formularies, insurance coverage)
  • Principles of ethics (e.g., self-determination, autonomy, justice in the distribution of resources)
  • Elder abuse/neglect
  • Communication barriers (e.g., cognitive, sensory, cultural, language, health literacy)
  • Functional barriers to activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living”

Good luck to those seeking certification this fall and just remember that a good chunk of people still did pass!

One of those was Fazia H. who said this about our study material;

“Wanted to say a big thank you for your in-depth geriatric course. Passed the April exam.”

For those who are preparing to pass, we have 6 month or 1 year access options to our BCGP study material.


  1. Candy

    When is the best time to prepare BCGP for the next spring ,2019?

    • Eric Christianson

      Hey Candy, most pharmacists I work with target the 3-6 month timeframe for preparation. With that said, I have had some looking towards a year, and some do an intense, focused review only lasting a month or two… I would probably start by late 2018 or early 2019, hope that helps, Eric

  2. Bill Jones

    Since there are ZERO studies showing the outcome of patients is IMPROVED by anyone with BCPS of any flavor, maybe the whole notion of BCPS, all specialties, and ADDED QUALIFICATIONS should be questioned STRONGLY.

    I have heard from a few who are board certified that they are NOT going to renew because they cannot see spending the money since the value is so low.

    • Shelley

      Actually it may be worth it for some since the constant reviews make you a better clinician! Also, you may get an increase in salary and prospective employers certainly look at this when reviewing a candidate! I know some who are triple certified and continue to maintain it to this day!

    • Cole

      Great points, do physicians have data on board certification resulting in better care/outcomes? From the pharmacist standpoint, who is going to study this and how?
      I think the real issue here is pharmacists who appear to have better outcomes likely have other skills beyond pharmacotherapy knowledge. Good test takers and effective clinicians are two distinct groups (likely with a fair amount of overlap), but being good at one doesn’t beget the other.

      • Bill Jones

        There is scattered information that I could find. Clearly the number of IMPROVED outcomes articles is greater than ZERO.

        This article shows DISCIPLINE by the Medical Board was less if board certified
        J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Aug;33(8):1292

        This study supports board certification in gastroenterologic surgery improves outcomes in Japan
        Surg Today. 2017 May;47(5):611

        In my view, what is being created is ANOTHER way to silo pharmacists. At a point in time when someone says pharmacists can be providers, will that be ALL pharmacists or the “special ones”? I have heard a few presentations that INFER the way to decide who can be a provider is assess credentials. Well, the message seemed it was board certification = provider and the rest not so much.

        My observation is the most motivated pharmacists will take the plunge for the exam. It could be a self-fulfilling prophecy of “better” because of selection bias.

        I once asked a member of the Board of Pharmacy is requiring law CE has made an impact. He said in terms of the NUMBER and RATE of pharmacists coming to the BOP for a disciplinary hearing the answer was no. I do not know if other levels of training beyond PharmD are collected.

  3. Marketa Marvanova

    When you are getting ready for the BCGP examination make sure to review the new exam blueprint. This will give you an idea of the individual domains including stats and their percentages on the exam.

  4. Tom

    Any one take the 2018 Fall version of BCGP?

    • Michael

      Yes, I took it two days ago 10/7/18. It took almost 5 hours. The questions heavy on social issues such as abuse/neglect. End of life issues discussing DNR.I was quite surprised that there were as many statics questions and only a few on infectious disease. I thought it could have been more clinically based.

      • Manuela Perkins

        I agree with you Michael, total disappointment. As a consultant pharmacist in LTC I couldn’t give a straight answer to the vague questions about abuse/neglect or cultural barrier (what to tell your patient when you realize he’s holding the leaflet upside down…really?). Very little clinical and infectious disease which is the big chunk of what we do.

  5. Manuela

    I failed the recertification in May and I re-challenge this fall but the content of the test is borderline ridiculous, at least for a geriatric pharmacist in the field. Many answers were pure “guesses” as you inferred just because the questions were extremely vague and out-of-reality with actual practice. FYI this is not my first rodeo, I also have a BCACP certification and I’ve took tests since 2010. I was baffled when I went back and still couldn’t feel confident about the results (likely in December).

  6. M

    Hi All,
    I took the exam in September and unfortunately failed. I used ASCP study material and found it not very helpful. As when i took the exam i was just dumbfounded. There were less clinical questions. The question asked were just out of this world and i literally had no idea. Its just so unfortunate. The ASCP materials were like almost foriegn in comparison to the questions asked. Im overall saddened and as I didnt do well by a small margin. But how much guessing can one person do?

    • P

      Hi I took the exam September 2018 and studied for a 3 month period as well and FAILED with 499 (1 pt from the passing score of 500). As with above I used ASCP study material and some extra printed material that was gathered from my BCGP certified PEERS in my work who have passed the exam in the past with company support materials as well. In addition, I also paid for the practice exams and averaged over 87% first blind try on the practice exams provided from ASCP. As a professional who’s known to be meticulous, I feel overall the exam was vague with less clinical questions and more “what would you do in this social situation” questions. Don’t worry M, I’m there with you. Right now, I’m still debating whether or not to retake with the reduced fee for Spring 2019 seeing as I was 1 pt away from passing this round.

      • Eric Christianson

        That’s stinks!!! I’m going to work to add something before the spring 19′ exam on social issues affecting geriatrics. I think this will help all be better prepared for those topics on the content outline. Best wishes to you Pricilla – Eric

      • M

        Thank you for your encouragement P…My goodness 1 point.. I wish you the very best and many blessings.. It is my prayer for you the 2nd time will be the charm..

  7. KJ

    I took this test in September 2018 too and am disappointed in having failed by only a couple points! There were very few drug related questions. This test seemed like it was created by the nursing staff that disagreed with a pharmacist’s judgement call and wanted to trip them up. Even if the test was exactly the same in the spring I wouldn’t be able to study for it. It gives me a very bad feeling that this has become more of a money grab. Sad because I was hoping legislation would be pushed to allow more consultation services billed for board certified pharmacists. I will be openly speaking against that if these are the standards (not clinical drug knowledge) that we are held to. I do not know if it is worth the effort to re-take the test.

  8. MKC

    Hello, I need some helps and advice on BCGP exam. I took this test in September 2019 and am disappointed in having failed by few points. Feeling like all clinical questions were not related to working experience and have a lot of study design questions. I used MED ED and ASCP both for study. Until now I do not know if it is worth the effort to re-take the test.

    • Eric Christianson

      My apologies on the delay as I missed this message! It is a very difficult exam and I would strongly suggest putting together a game plan using the Meded101 BCGP Study Schedule. You do have an advantage in that you have taken the exam and got a feel for it. I would write down the topic areas that you were weak in and make sure to focus on them within our study supplies. Hope that helps and best wishes! Eric


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Written By Eric Christianson

July 18, 2018

Study Materials For Pharmacists


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