Are you looking to become a Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist in 2023? You’ll want to pay attention to this post. We have a rundown of all the 2023 BCGP exam changes including changes to the content outline and what it means for your study preparations.

First and foremost, the content outline is remaining the same for the spring 2023 testing period. The changes do NOT go into effect until the fall 2023 testing period. On a side note, I wish BPS offered their certification exams more often than twice per year to give candidates a little more flexibility but that is the system they currently run. So if you have even thought that you might want to take a certification exam, I would start planning pretty far out and identify which testing period you want to shoot for because there are registration periods that must be followed.

2023 BCGP Content Outline Changes

Let’s dig into the significant differences in the content outline associated with the 2023 BCGP Exam changes. Notable topics that are mentioned specifically on the new content outline (remember fall 2023 and beyond) that do not show up on the spring 2023 content outline include: FORTA (Fit for the Aged) List, MAI (Medication Appropriateness Index), HEDIS measures, capacity, conservatorship, respite care, caregiver services/burnout, social determinants of health, and pharmacoeconomics. To stay up to date, we have added all of the above-mentioned topics to our geriatric/regulatory PDF handout (now almost 40 pages in length) included in the 6-month and 1-year BCGP All Access Passes.

Scoring and Question Changes

There have been three major sections of the BCGP exam. That will not change in 2023. There is some nuance to those changes in the terminology.

  • “General Principles of Aging” is changed to “Geriatric Patient Population”
  • “Person-Centered Care” is changed to “Therapeutics and Management”
  • “Population and Public Health” is changed to “Professional Practice”

I don’t think these category designation changes will be a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. In my opinion, the biggest deal is the changes being made to the number of questions from each of these topics. The total number of questions will NOT change and will remain at 175 for both the spring and fall 2023 (and beyond) exams. However, the percentage (and number) of questions for each section has changed. I suspect the fall 2023 exam will be even more frustrating for candidates as there will be a larger quantity of questions on what I would call non-drug information-related topics.

  • “Person-Centered Care” or “Therapeutics and Management” (think pharmacotherapy/drug information, selection, adherence, kinetics, monitoring, guidelines, adverse effects, etc.) will have FEWER questions in fall 2023 and beyond. This category used to have 105 questions out of 175. In fall 2023 and beyond, it will carry only 90 questions (slightly over half of the exam). There are going to be candidates very frustrated with this. Most people are shocked by the number of non-drug-related questions and I think this feeling will only increase for those not paying attention in 2023 and beyond. DON’T be caught off guard by this.
  • Most of the 15 questions that have disappeared from the therapeutics (pharmacotherapy) section will go to the Geriatric Patient Population (physiological factors of aging and non-physiological factors of aging) section. That category goes from 35 questions to a whopping 48 questions!
  • Two additional questions will be added to the Professional Practice topic area.

Here’s How I Would Approach The BCGP Exam

I have taken the BCGP exam twice on initial certification and recertification so if I were going to take the BCGP exam in 2023, what would I do and how would this affect my preparations?

  • I know pass rates aren’t that high so I would lower my expectations that it is going to be easy and understand that failure is a real possibility (up to 50% are likely to fail based on historical pass rates). That’s ok, you are still a licensed pharmacist even if you don’t pass the BCGP exam. It isn’t nearly as traumatic as failing the NAPLEX or law exam required for licensure.
  • If I have enough time to prepare (minimum 3 months), I would choose to take the exam in the spring. My preference would be to have more “pharmacotherapy” type questions versus fewer. If you don’t have enough time, don’t force it. If you fail the spring 2023 BCGP exam, you are going to get a new format in the fall which likely means that your previous trial isn’t going to be as helpful with all the changes.
  • I’m usually of the belief that something new is generally going to be more difficult. I believe this has been true in the data whenever BPS has changed a content outline and the number of questions per topic. Pass rates have tended to dip. This is another good reason to get motivated to take it in the spring.
  • Lastly, I’m always surprised by candidates who have told me that they didn’t pay attention and ran out of time on their board certification exam. You just cannot do that and have to time yourself with practice questions. Understand whether you are a fast or slow test taker and if you are slow, be sure you work on your efficiency. As a reminder, Part 1 of the BCGP exam consists of 100 questions (2 hours 30 minutes), and Part 2 consists of 75 questions (1 hour 53 minutes).

I hope this post helps you in your preparations for the 2023 BCGP exam and beyond! I have followed board certifications like the Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist for over 10 years now and have seen lots of changes. If you have any specific questions on this topic, feel free to email me at [email protected]

If you are looking for study materials specifically for the BCGP exam, you can find all of our options here.

If you are considering other certifications (i.e. BCMTMS, BCACP, or BCPS), you can find all of our content here.