Assessment Structure

The Prescribing Safety Assessment (PSA) is a pass/fail assessment of the skills, judgement and supporting knowledge related to prescribing medicines in the NHS. The PSA assesses the prescribing skills of final-year medical students and is based on the competencies identified by the General Medical Council outlined in Outcomes for graduates (originally published in Tomorrow's Doctors). These competencies include writing new prescriptions, reviewing existing prescriptions, calculating drug doses, identifying and avoiding both adverse drug reactions and medication errors and amending prescribing to suit individual patient circumstances. The content of each item is relevant to the prescribing tasks expected of an F1 doctor, i.e. the questions refer to ailments and drugs that graduates are likely to be dealing with in year one of the Foundation Programme.

The Prescribing Safety Assessment Blueprint identifies eight different question types, each of which may be set in seven different domains of clinical activity:

Question types Domains
These are delivered within eight sections over 120 minutes, as illustrated by the assessment map taken from the PSA Blueprint. All candidates have access to the British National Formulary throughout the assessment. Assessment map:













Prescribing Medicine
Prescription Review Surgery
Planning Management Elderly Care
Communicating Information Paediatrics
Calculation Skills Psychiatry
Adverse Drug Reactions Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Drug Monitoring General Practice
Data Interpretation

For a better idea of what assessment items look like please see the Example Question Items in the Resources section. Students who register with their medical school to take part in PSA 2019 will also gain access to interactive PSA Practice Papers.