Resitting The PSA Exam: What You Need To Know

If you didn’t pass the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) on your first try, don’t worry—it happens. With the right preparation, you can nail your resit. This post will give you straightforward tips to help you get ready for your PSA resit, so you can tackle the exam with confidence and a clear plan.

Understand What to Expect

This time around, make sure you’re really clear on what each section of the PSA involves and how it’s scored. Here’s how to get prepared:

  • Check out the official PSA website: Read up on the exam structure and go through the FAQs 
  • Use PSA Prep: Access the free PSA Prep sessions available on the BPS Assessment portal, specially designed by a team of experts to address common challenges faced in the exam and provide valuable insights into the marking process (there’s one session for each section of the exam, so if you know which sections you struggled with most, focus on those sessions) 

Knowing what’s expected will boost your confidence and help you study smarter for your resit.

Manage Your Time Wisely

Good time management can make a big difference in the PSA exam, since not all questions are worth the same amount of marks. Here’s a rough idea of how you might split your time, based on the number of points each section is worth:

  • Prescribing (PWS): 48 minutes
  • Prescription Review (REV): about 19 minutes
  • Planning Management (MAN): just under 10 minutes
  • Providing Information (COM): just over 7 minutes
  • Calculation Skills (CAL): just under 10 minutes
  • Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR): just under 10 minutes
  • Drug Monitoring (TDM): just under 10 minutes
  • Data Interpretation (DAT): just over 7 minutes

Use this as a starting point, then personalise as you need to based on your strengths and weaker areas. 

Get to Know Your BNFs

Dealing with time pressure is key since it’s similar to what you’ll face in real clinical settings. Being quick with the Medicines Complete and the NICE British National Formulary (BNF) is crucial. Focus especially on the ‘treatment summaries’ section, where important details are often hidden. Knowing these resources well can save you a lot of time during the exam.

Focus on Your Weaker Areas

Practising regularly is essential. Figure out where you’re weaker and hit those areas hard:

  • Review each exam section: Pay special attention to any sections where you scored lower, and try to understand why
  • Use practice papers to improve: These mimic the real exam, letting you practise effectively and learn from mistakes
  • Group study sessions: Sometimes discussing tricky topics with peers can help clarify things you’re struggling with

The more you use these resources, the better your understanding and exam skills will become. 

Once you’ve made use of the official PSA practice papers, try the 3 bonus practice papers from BPS Assessment which have been designed to mirror the format of the PSA exam, with feedback on every question so that you can learn from your mistakes and practice until perfect! 

Ready for Your PSA Resit?

By sticking to these tips, you’ll be in great shape for your PSA resit. Stay confident; every bit of preparation helps.bMake sure you go over all the available materials and head into your resit determined and positive.

Good luck, and remember, being well-prepared is your best bet for success!

What does a PSA exam look like?

If you’re preparing for the Prescribing Safety Assessment, you’ll want to know exactly what’s in the exam. So in this blog post we look at the detailed structure of the PSA exam, to help you get exam-ready.Continue reading

How Is The PSA Exam Scored?

In order to prepare for your Prescribing Safety Assessment exam, it’s important that you familiarise yourself with each of the 8 sections of the exam, so you know what’s expected of you and where you might find the most marks. Some sections are weighted more heavily than others, and some have a different number of question items than others. 


How PSA Exam Questions Are Marked

There are 200 marks available in total, broken down across the 8 sections of the PSA as follows: 

  • Section 1: Prescribing (PWS) is worth 80 marks (8 question items worth 10 marks each)
  • Section 2: Prescription Review (REV) is worth 32 marks (8 question items worth 4 marks each)
  • Section 3: Planning Management (MAN) is worth 16 marks (8 question items worth 2 marks each) 
  • Section 4: Providing Information (COM) is worth 12 marks (6 question items worth 2 marks each) 
  • Section 5: Calculation Skills (CAL) is worth 16 marks (8 question items worth 2 marks each) 
  • Section 6: Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) is worth 16 marks (8 question items worth 2 marks each) 
  • Section 7: Drug Monitoring (TDM) is worth 16 marks (8 question items worth 2 marks each) 
  • Section 8: Data Interpretation (DAT) is worth 12 marks (6 question items worth 2 marks each) 


What’s Being Tested?

Each section of the Prescribing Safety Assessment is designed to test a different area of prescribing. In a nutshell, that means:

Section 1: Prescribing (PWS) tests your ability to write a safe and effective prescription, to manage acute medical emergencies, and to plan appropriate drug therapy for common indications. For each question item, you’ll be given a clinical scenario followed by a request to prescribe a single appropriate medicine or intravenous fluid, using one of a variety of prescription forms. 

Section 2: Prescription Review (REV) tests your ability to review the prescribing of others, to spot potentially important errors and to make changes that will improve patient outcomes. In this section, you’ll be given scenarios that require you to review a current list of prescribed medicines (such as an inpatient prescription chart or a referral letter from a GP). You’ll have 6-10 medicines to review for each question item.

Section 3: Planning Management (MAN) tests your ability to plan appropriate treatment for common clinical indications. For each question item, you’ll be given a clinical scenario followed by a request to identify the most important treatment (from a list of 5) to manage that particular patient. You’ll need to select between a range of options, some of which would help, some of which would harm, and some of which would do nothing.

Section 4: Providing Information (COM) tests your ability to provide patients with important information about their medicines. In this section, you’ll be given scenarios in which a patient is about to start taking a new treatment or where further advice about an existing treatment is required. You’ll need to choose the most important piece of information from a list of 5 (where 4 are distractors).

Section 5: Calculation Skills (CAL) tests your ability to calculate appropriate drug doses and record the outcome accurately. These questions allow the use of a simple calculator to work out your answer – there is one built into the interface itself but you can also use your own.

Section 6: Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) tests your ability to detect, respond to and prevent potential adverse drug reactions. For each question item, you’ll need to choose the most appropriate answer from a list of 5.

Section 7: Drug Monitoring (TDM) tests your knowledge of how drugs work and their clinical effects, and your ability to monitor them appropriately to maximise safety and efficacy. In this section, you’ll be given scenarios that require you to make a judgement about how best to assess the impact of treatments that are ongoing or are being planned. For each question item, you’ll need to choose the most appropriate answer from a list of 5. 

Section 8: Data Interpretation (DAT) tests your ability to interpret data on the impact of drug therapy and make appropriate changes, as well as critically appraising the results of relevant diagnostic, prognostic and treatment trials. For each question item in this section, you’ll need to interpret data in light of a clinical scenario and decide on the most appropriate course of action with regard to prescribing, choosing the most appropriate answer from a list of 5. 


PSA Scoring and Question Items Explained By The Experts

For a more detailed outline of what’s in the PSA exam, how it’s scored, and what you need to understand in order to succeed, we recommend watching PSA Prep, a set of 9 (totally free) eLearning sessions we’ve created for exam candidates, working with a team of experts. 

As well as an overview session, there’s a dedicated PSA Prep session for each of the 8 sections of the exam, providing you with more details and addressing some of the biggest challenges faced by PSA candidates. 

For instant access, simply create (or log in to) your BPS Assessment portal account and scroll down to ‘PSA Prep’.

From Stress to Success: A Student’s Guide to PSA Exam Prep

Preparing for the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. As you gear up for this pivotal exam, it’s natural to feel apprehensive. However, with the right approach and mindset, you can transform stress into success! 

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through effective PSA preparation techniques that will get you confident and exam-ready.Continue reading

Why is the PSA Exam Beneficial to Students?

If you’re a UK medical student, you’ll know that the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) exam is an important step on your journey towards becoming a qualified prescriber. You may also feel like it’s just another hurdle to overcome but, trust us, it’s more like a stepping stone on your way to becoming a safe and effective prescriber. 

So, why is the PSA exam so valuable for students like you? Let’s break it down.


1. Builds a Solid Foundation

First thing’s first, the PSA exam isn’t about making your life harder. It’s about laying down the groundwork for your future. Prescribing medications is a complex skill that involves a thorough understanding of pharmacology, patient care, and the healthcare system. It’s also often done under immense time pressure. So by preparing for and taking the PSA, you’re building a solid foundation in all these areas, ensuring you’re ready to face the challenges of real-world prescribing safely and effectively.


2. Enhances Patient Safety

At the heart of the PSA is patient safety. All over the world, avoidable medication errors are having real-life implications to patient safety. In the UK alone, for example, the cost of avoidable medication errors is around £98.5 million every year. 

The PSA exam’s structure focuses on assessing your ability to prescribe medications responsibly and accurately under time pressure, minimising the risk of errors that could lead to adverse drug reactions or complications. 

So, by mastering the principles tested in the PSA, you’re contributing to a safer clinical environment where patient well-being is the top priority.


3. Prepares You for Real-world Scenarios

The beauty of the PSA lies in its practicality. The exam scenarios are designed to mirror the challenges you’ll encounter in your medical career, from choosing the right medication for a patient with multiple health issues to adjusting dosages based on kidney function. This hands-on approach means that passing the PSA isn’t just about acing a test; it’s about being prepared for the challenges of day-to-day prescribing. 


4. Boosts Confidence

Let’s be honest, the idea of prescribing medication can be daunting for many students. However, passing the PSA is a significant confidence booster. It’s tangible proof that you have the knowledge and skills to make informed prescribing decisions. This confidence will carry through to your interactions with patients, colleagues, and mentors, setting you up for a successful career in medicine.


5. Provides a Stepping Stone for Further Learning

The learning doesn’t stop once you’ve passed the PSA. Instead, it’s just the beginning. The principles you’ve mastered will serve as a foundation for continuous learning and improvement in your prescribing practices. Medicine is always evolving, and the PSA equips you with the critical thinking skills needed to adapt and grow throughout your career.


What Next?

The PSA exam is more than just a requirement; it’s an opportunity. It’s your chance to demonstrate your commitment to patient safety, your readiness to tackle the complexities of prescribing, and your dedication to becoming the best medical professional you can be. 

So, embrace the challenge, dive into your exam preparation with enthusiasm, and remember, every step you take towards passing the PSA is a step towards a safer, more effective healthcare system. 

Whether you’re looking for free eLearning sessions, prescribing practice papers, or just a bit of encouragement and advice, we’re here to help you navigate the PSA with confidence. Good luck!

Mastering the PSA: A Comprehensive Guide to Exam Preparation

Preparing for the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) is a pivotal step in the journey of medical students and foundation doctors. Healthcare professionals must demonstrate proficiency in prescribing medications safely and effectively and making thorough preparation is essential for success. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to master the PSA and excel on exam day.

Understanding the PSA

First and foremost, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the structure and content of the PSA. The exam assesses a wide range of prescribing skills, including, therapeutic principles, and clinical reasoning. By understanding the exam’s format and objectives, you can tailor your study approach accordingly. Take a look at some of our blog ‘PSA sections explained’ which go into more detail about the exam structure. 

Gathering Resources

Next, gather a variety of study materials to support your preparation. Utilise official PSA resources, such as practice papers, to familiarise yourself with the types of questions you’ll encounter on the exam. Additionally, consider supplemental resources such as online videos, forums and eLearning modules such as PSA Prep to deepen your understanding of prescribing principles.

Developing a Study Plan

With a wealth of resources at your disposal, it’s essential to develop a structured study plan to maximise your preparation time effectively. Allocate specific time slots for reviewing different topics, practising questions, and taking simulated exams to replicate the real-time pressures. Break down your study sessions into manageable chunks to maintain focus and prevent burnout.

Practising Questions

Practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering the PSA! Dedicate ample time to practising exam-style questions and make good use of the freely available practice papers on the official PSA site. Analyse your responses carefully, identifying areas of weakness and addressing them through targeted review and practice.

Simulating Exam Conditions

As exam day approaches, it’s crucial to simulate real exam conditions to familiarise yourself with the pressure and time constraints you’ll face. Set aside time to complete full-length practice exams under timed conditions, replicating the experience of the actual PSA. This will help build your confidence and ensure you’re well-prepared for the rigours of the exam.

Seeking Support

Finally, don’t hesitate to seek support from peers, mentors, and educators as you prepare for the PSA. Collaborate with classmates to review challenging concepts, seek guidance from experienced professionals, and take advantage of any available support resources offered by your institution.

Mastering the PSA requires dedication, diligence, and strategic preparation. By following this comprehensive guide and implementing effective study strategies, you can confidently approach the exam and showcase your prescribing proficiency with success. Remember to stay focused, stay motivated, and believe in your ability to excel. Best of luck on your PSA journey!

What You Need to Know After Sitting the Prescribing Safety Assessment

You’ve tackled the PSA (Prescribing Safety Assessment) with determination and skill, but what happens next? Here’s a comprehensive guide to what awaits you after the exam.

1. When can I access my results? 

The first sitting of the year, usually conducted in February is the largest sitting of the year. For that reason and because all the exam questions are new, the results can take up to 3 and a half weeks to review and issue. 

The sittings after the February event usually have a shorter turnaround, with most receiving their results two weeks after their sitting. 

You can access your results via their official PSA account by navigating to the ‘my results’ tab. 

2. How will my results be displayed?

Upon accessing your results, you will receive a breakdown based on each question item style. This granular analysis offers invaluable insights into where you’ve performed best and the areas for improvement. 

3. How can I access my PSA Certificate? 

Successful candidates who pass the PSA will have the opportunity to download their PSA certificate through their account. It’s essential to store a copy on a personal device or email it to a personal account for safekeeping and future reference.

4. What happens if I don’t pass the PSA?

For those who haven’t passed, there’s no need to despair. You’ll have the chance to resit the PSA on a future sitting date, determined by your institution, offering a second opportunity to pass. Use this occasion to hone skills and strive for success. BPS Assessment offers a range of PSA resources which could help you on your second attempt. 

Navigating the post-PSA phase requires diligence and patience. Whether celebrating a triumph or preparing for a comeback, understanding the process can empower you on your prescribing journey. Keep pushing forward, stay focused, and remember, every experience is an opportunity to grow. Good Luck! 

How We Create Our Prescribing Practice Papers

Assessments play a crucial role in evaluating your knowledge and skills, especially in the medical field. At BPS Assessment, we understand the importance of creating high-quality assessments, which accurately assess the ability to prescribe medication safely and effectively. In this blog, we’ll take you behind the scenes, giving you a glimpse of how our team of experts crafts our assessments so that you have the best prescribing resources available. 

Utilising Drug Bank Resources

The first step in crafting our assessments is to tap into the valuable resources available on the BPS Assessment platform, the Drug Bank. This comprehensive database provides our assessment writers with a wealth of information on medications, drug interactions, dosages, and more. Using the Drug Bank, our UK prescribing experts can create questions that accurately reflect the real-world scenarios you may encounter in your clinical practice.

Adhering to the PSA Blueprint

Each assessment question is created to adhere to the UK Prescribing Safety Assessment blueprint. This blueprint outlines the specific competencies and knowledge areas that are expected of foundation doctors and assesses 8 key areas. 

Our team ensures that every question we create closely adheres to these guidelines, covering a wide range of topics related to safe and effective prescribing; from prescription writing to drug monitoring and calculations. Each area is represented by an individual question item style in our assessments, highlighted in the graphic below: 

This alignment guarantees that your trainees are being assessed on the skills and knowledge that matter most in their future healthcare practice.

Peer Review for Quality Assurance

Quality is of paramount importance in assessment creation, which is why every question undergoes a rigorous peer review process. After our experts draft a question, it is carefully reviewed by a panel of experienced peers. This panel includes seasoned healthcare professionals and educators who possess a deep understanding of the PSA and its objectives. They assess each question for accuracy, relevance, and adherence to the PSA blueprint.

Author Revision and Finalisation

Based on the feedback from the peer review panel, the original author of the question revises it as necessary. This may involve refining the wording, adjusting the mark scheme, and enhancing the explanation of answers to ensure clarity. The goal is to create questions that are fair, challenging, and reflective of real-world prescribing scenarios.

By the time a question is finalised, it has undergone multiple iterations and revisions, guaranteeing that it meets the highest standards of quality and aligns perfectly with the PSA’s objectives.                           

Behind every successful assessment at BPS Assessment is a well-defined process that combines the expertise of UK prescribing experts, adherence to the PSA blueprint, and rigorous peer review. We take pride in our commitment to providing you with assessments that accurately assess prescribing skills, ensuring that candidates are well-prepared for the challenges of real-world clinical practice.

When you sit down to prepare for your Prescribing exams, you can trust that the questions you encounter in our practice papers have been carefully crafted to reflect the complexities of safe and effective prescribing. Our dedication to quality and excellence ensures that you are equipped with the best tools to succeed in your exams and your medical career. 

What You Need to Know Before Sitting the PSA: More FAQs

Preparing for the PSA (Prescribing Safety Assessment) can be a crucial step in your professional journey and is essential in order to progress to FY2, so it’s natural to have questions. Let’s address some frequently asked questions to ensure you’re well-informed before the big day.

1. How many times can you sit the PSA exam?

Candidates are allowed a maximum of three attempts to sit the PSA, so thoughtful planning and preparation are critical to ensure you succeed on your first attempt. Make sure to take full advantage of practice papers, eLearning and any other resources that are available to you. 

2. What are the dates for the PSA?

PSA exams are typically held multiple times throughout the year. This year’s sitting are taking place on the following days: 

Friday 2 February 2024

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Tuesday 23 April 2024  

Friday 31 May 2024

3. What’s the structure of the exam?

The PSA consists of 8 different sections, which evaluate the core skills involved in the safe and effective prescribing of medication. Make sure to be familiar with each section’s format, time constraints, and content areas. PSA Prep offers a thorough explanation of each of the 8 sections, so it’s important to familiarise yourself.

4. How are the questions scored? 

Each exam question has a set score detailed in our blog PSA Sections Explained The assessment encompasses a range of question formats, including prescription writing,  multiple-choice questions, and calculations, each carrying specific weightage. The scoring methodology considers not only factual accuracy but also your ability to apply knowledge in clinical scenarios.

5. How do I prepare for the PSA?

Effective preparation is the key to success. Make sure to set aside enough time to prepare properly before sitting the exam. Make use of your PSA account by utilising official practice papers and connect with other candidates by joining study groups to share insights and tips. Check out our other blog posts on how to best prepare for the PSA;

How to prepare for the PSA

Prepare for the PSA with our free resources

The 12 PSA resources of Christmas

6. When will I get my login?

Once you have been registered for the PSA, you’ll receive your login credentials. Make sure to keep an eye on your registered email address and that you set a password that is secure and memorable. If you encounter any issues, reach out to the PSA support team promptly to ensure a smooth experience on exam day.

Thorough preparation and understanding the logistics of the PSA are vital for success. Stay informed, manage your time wisely, and approach the exam with confidence. Best of luck on your PSA journey!

The 12 PSA Resources of Christmas: Your Prescription for Exam Success!

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to spread the cheer than with the “12 PSA Resources of Christmas”! Whether you’re a medical student or a foundation doctor gearing up for the Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) come the new year, we’ve got a festive lineup of resources that will make your exam preparation merry and bright.

Official PSA Practice Papers

On the first day of Christmas, the PSA gave to me – official practice papers to set you free! These papers provide a sneak peek into the format and structure of the real deal, helping you navigate the exam with confidence. Make sure to log in to your PSA account to access them. 

9 PSA Prep eLearning Sessions

On the second day of Christmas, PSA Prep gave to me – nine eLearning sessions, filled with insights and knowledge to ace the PSA for free! Take a deep dive into prescription writing, communication skills, and more, all while enjoying the flexibility of online learning.

BPS Assessment’s 3 Practice Papers

On the third day of Christmas, BPS Assessment gave to me – three more practice papers for extra glee! Because, let’s face it, the more practice, the merrier when it comes to nailing the PSA.

Flashcards for Quick Recall

On the fourth day of Christmas, flashcards came to me – a handy resource for quick recall and remembering facts with ease! Spice up your revision with these bite-sized gems.

Video guides to the PSA

On the fifth day of Christmas, YouTube gave to me – perfect for on-the-go learning and study glee! Turn your commute into a productive PSA prep session with the easy-to-follow video guides from the Edinburgh guide to the PSA.

Interactive Quizzes for Fun Learning 

On the sixth day of Christmas, quizzes galore came to me – inject some fun into your learning with interactive quizzes and study glee! Who said exam preparation can’t be entertaining, test yourself with friends and family?

PSA Frequently Asked Questions 

On the seventh day of Christmas, FAQs were given to me – get all the information you need to prepare for the PSA with ease, from how the questions are written to what to expect after you’ve sat the exam.

Mock Exams for Real Exam Simulation

On the eighth day of Christmas, mock exams landed for me – take advantage of your mock exams to simulate the real exam experience! Practice makes perfect, after all.

Study Groups for Collaborative Learning

On the ninth day of Christmas, study groups formed for me – collaborative learning for camaraderie and study victory! Share knowledge, tackle challenges, and make studying a social affair.

Mindfulness Apps for Stress Relief

On the tenth day of Christmas, mindfulness apps appeared for me – combat exam stress and find tranquillity with mindfulness apps for free! Because a calm mind is a focused mind.

Prescribing Guidelines for Reference

On the eleventh day of Christmas, guidelines came for me – essential references for prescribing precision and getting exam-ready! Ensure you know how to navigate the Medicines Complete BNF and/or NICE BNF.

Motivational Quotes for Inspiration

On the twelfth day of Christmas, inspiration came for me – motivational quotes to lift your spirits and fill your study sessions with positivity! Remember, you’ve got this!

So, there you have it – the “12 PSA Resources of Christmas” to make your exam preparation festive and fruitful. Embrace these resources, stay focused, and sleigh your PSA with confidence. Happy studying, and may your exam season be merry and bright!