Hong Kong Pharmacy Practice Exam

This paper covers the following areas as listed on the PPBHK website:

  • Pharmaceutical Calculations (percentages, dilution, concentrations, aliquots, alligation and posology)
  • General Pharmacy Practice (patient counselling, responding to symptoms, counter prescribing of over-the-counter medications, etc.)
  • Radio-pharmacy (principles and application)
  • Handling of Cytotoxic Agents (potential hazards and precautions)
  • Medical Gases (types and uses)
  • Practical Pharmacokinetics (concept, application and calculation)
  • Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms (applications, methods of use and properties)
  • Preparation of Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms (methods of preparation, basic formulation, labelling and packaging)
  • Sterilization Practices (the official methods and their applications, conditions and equipment required)
  • Aseptic Dispensing (clean room design and operation, aseptic technique and its application)

Exam Strategy

Taking both the pharmacy practice paper and the pharmacology paper will save you time since similar essay questions can be appeared in both papers, e.g. pharmacological treatment regimen and mechanisms of drugs . Most candidates regard this paper as the easiest out of all 3 papers. Wikipedia and Google are very helpful tools in your exam preparation when searching for knowledge areas that were not fully covered in your pharmacy course. In my own experience, medical gases, radio-pharmacy and cytotoxic agents were not focused in my pharmacy course therefore it was difficult for me to prepare answers for them.

This exam paper consists of three parts: calculation, multiple choice and short essay.

Part I: Calculation (20%)

7 – 9 calculation questions will be asked in the exam paper, with 2-3 marks each. Calculation steps should be written in order to score full mark in each question. This is the easiest part to score as long as you are willing to practise a few years of past papers. The below calculation areas are covered:

  • Basic Pharmacokinetics Calculations (e.g. clearance, volume of distributions, rate of eliminations)
  • Isotonicity
  • Osmolarity
  • Mixing of Concentration
  • Relative Molecule Ratio
  • Sodium Chloride Equivalence
  • Freezing Point Depression
  • Half Lives
  • Rate of Infusion
  • Dose of Treatment Course
  • Displacement Value in Suppository Base
  • Blood Alcohol Content
  • Formulation Ingredient Ratio

Part II: Multiple Choices (20%)

Around 20 MCQs with 1 mark each will be appeared in the exam, which are not printed in the past papers for revision. A wide range of topics will be covered so preparation for this part is difficult. I was only confident of getting the correct answers of less than half MCQs. The followings are some questions that were appeared in the exam:
  • Sun Protection Factor (e.g. calculation)
  • Side effects and serious syndrome of medicines (e.g. which of the following is the side effect of taking Vancomycin?)
  • Interactions between drugs
  • Equivalent names of the particular drugs
  • Clinical therapeutics (e.g. what should be given together with Isoniazid?)
  • Half-lives (e.g. calculation)
  • Pharmacokinetics related questions (e.g. what pharmacokinetics model does the description referring to?)
  • Formulations related questions (e.g. what is the process term for the described production procedure?)
  • Contraceptives
  • Treatment regimen, dose and comparison

Part III: Short Essays (4 x 15% = 60%)

This part consists of 4 short essay questions. Clinical case based questions (not limited to minor aliments) are most likely to be appeared in the paper. You are expected to understand the pathology of the disease, main symptoms, risk factors and treatment regimen (including drug name, mechanism, indication, dose, direction, side effects, warnings, interactions etc…), monitoring and lifestyle advices. These clinical cases could also be appeared in the Pharmacology Paper.

The syllabus listed on the PPBHK website is quite wide and unclear hence some candidates might find it not as helpful and regard some particular past paper questions as out of scope. Here, I have highlighted some key questions that were appeared in the past paper and revision area that I thought are important for passing the exam:

General Pharmacy Practice (patient counselling, responding to symptoms, counter prescribing of over-the-counter medications, etc.)

Clinical case knowledge as described above for:

  • All kinds of minor ailments: e.g. acne, constipation, athletic foot, thrush, warts, cystitics, head lice, scabies, threadworms, contraceptives, smoking cessations, etc…
  • All kinds of major medical conditions: e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis etc…
  • Common Urea & Electrolyte and biological indicator levels of medical conditions, e.g. cholesterol, HbA1c, etc…

Radio-pharmacy (principles and application)

  •  radioactive drug: e.g. therapeutic and diagnostic use, principle of radioisotopes, etc…

Handling of Cytotoxic Agents (potential hazards and precautions)

  • spillage handling, safety preparation procedures, protective equipment, etc…

Medical Gases (types and uses)

  • Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide, Helium, etc…

Practical Pharmacokinetics (concept, application)

  • Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: e.g. Vancomycin, Gentamicin, etc…
  • Concept of Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Elimination (ADME): e.g. dissolution and disintegration, bioavailability, etc…
  • Bioequivalence
  • Pharmacovigilance

Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms (applications, methods of use and properties)

  • Malnutrition
  • Total Parenteral Nutrition: e.g. macro and micro nutritions
  • Enteric Feeding
  • Route of administrations & biological mechanisms: e.g.  oral, buccal, nose, pulmonary, rectal, parental, transdermal etc…
  • Modified release systems

Preparation of Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms (methods of preparation, basic formulation, labelling and packaging)

  • Tablets, capsules, cream, emulsion, powder, injection, suppositories, etc…

Sterilization Practices (the official methods and their applications, conditions and equipment required)

  • Sterilization process: e.g. moist heat, dry heat and gas sterilizers, autoclaves, use of bio-indicators, etc…

Aseptic Dispensing (clean room design and operation, aseptic technique and its application)

  • Good Manufacturing Practice e.g. clean room constructural design, environmental control, personnel hygiene, operations etc…
  • The Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention and Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S) e.g. objective and standard etc…
  • Authorized Person: e.g. roles and job responsibility etc…
  • Aseptic technique and application: e.g. dispensing technique, extemporaneous preparations, equipment such as laminar flow hood, biosafety cabinet etc…

Some Other Areas…

  • Drug formulary system in Hong Kong (e.g. in Hospital Authority)
  • Anti-microbial stewardship in Hong Kong
  • Interactions between drug, food, herbs could be appeared in this paper as well as in the pharmacology paper

Exam Tips and Study Kit:

A study kit for the pharmacy practice exam paper is available, please message me for more details.