Becoming an AMTRA SQP: book an exam

Your first AMTRA exam

Your exam booking form is enclosed with your training manual, inside the front pocket. Further copies can be downloaded from the AMTRA website (form reference A03).

Booking your place on a training course is NOT the same as booking your place at the exam. You must always send AMTRA an exam booking form if you intend to sit the exam.

Exams must be booked an absolute minimum of three weeks before the exam takes place – and some exams fill up well in advance. (To be precise, an exam booking form must be received by the AMTRA office by 1pm on the day three weeks before a set of exams, or if that day is a public holiday then by 1pm on the working day that precedes that day. If the set of exams at a centre runs over two days, then the deadline is three weeks prior to the first of the two days, even if the candidate is only being examined on the second day.)

AMTRA will acknowledge receipt of your exam booking form with a pink postcard sent to your home address. If you do not receive this within a week of submitting your exam form (or less if you are submitting very close to the three-week deadline), please telephone AMTRA.

You must book the exam directly with AMTRA, regardless of where you are planning to take the exam (or whether you’ve separately booked a training course). A list of forthcoming exam dates is available on the AMTRA website.

Your first exam attempt must be taken within 24 months of enrolling with AMTRA (otherwise AMTRA will charge a supplementary fee). You must have enrolled with AMTRA first before booking your exam – booking a training course with a college is not the same as booking the exam with AMTRA.

Please note exams may become fully booked, and that all exams are subject to minimum numbers: we regret that very occasionally it may be necessary to cancel an exam if insufficient people book for a particular date.

The examination fee for your first attempt is included in your original enrolment fee. (Your enrolment fee includes your exam fees for your first attempt on one occasion: additional fees are charged if you spread your first attempts at the various modules over multiple exam dates. Additional fees are charged for second and subsequent attempts.)

Candidates are examined separately in:

  • The Base Module (written examination, 1½ hours)
  • The Farm Animal Module (written examination, 2 hours)
  • The Equine Module (written examination, 1¼ hours)
  • The Companion Animal Module (written examination, 1¼ hours)
  • The Avian Module (written examination, 1¼ hours)

To become an AMTRA SQP you must pass the base module, at least one species module, and the oral exam (viva).

Note: to count towards the AMTRA SQP qualification, the viva must be passed not more than 24 months before the written exams, so if written exams are passed a long time after the viva (for instance after re-sits), then AMTRA will require a fresh viva (at the normal re-sit cost) before considering the candidate for registration as an SQP.

Furthermore, if you fail all your written modules, AMTRA will require you to take a fresh viva (at the normal re-sit cost).

Candidates will be provided with a copy of the Compendium in the exam room. The Compendium includes a copy of the SQP Code of Practice and VMD’s guidance on “Retail of veterinary medicines”. Exam questions in the Base module which relate to legislation take account of the fact that the Code of Practice and the guidance will be available in the exam room (since candidates have a Compendium), with appropriate emphasis on understanding and implementation of the Code rather than on factual knowledge. The Compendium will not be available for general reference during the AMTRA viva (oral) exam, though the AMTRA Assessor may ask candidates to look things up to demonstrate familiarity with use of the book.

In general, when marking AMTRA SQP exams, no marks are given to answers which contain advice or actions not compatible with the law or with data sheet recommendations (e.g. supplying a wormer contraindicated in pregnancy to a female animal without checking if it could be pregnant or even checking its gender, or supplying a sheep wormer for use in goats).

The AMTRA website also includes copies of the following:

  • Rules & Regulations for AMTRA Exams (also in this manual attached to the exam booking form)
  • Formal module descriptors (syllabus)

Please note: exam centres are suitable for access by wheelchair or by others with mobility difficulties, but if this is likely to be relevant to you, please contact Harper Adams University before your exam.

Separate sittings

If you choose to take your initial exam modules (i.e. those for which you initially enrol) spread over more than one date, there is an additional fee for each additional exam sitting: the fee also covers paying an exam centre for your place twice and additional administrative costs. In this case, please use the Individual modules Exam Form (available on the AMTRA website – form A04) for second and subsequent sittings and send the fee with the form.

Re-sits

If you are booking a re-sit, please use the Individual modules Exam Form (available from the AMTRA website – form A04) and send the fee with the form. (See also the full note on re-sits under “Exam results“.)

Viva (oral exam)

After the written examination, candidates are assessed for their professional competence as SQPs, which is undertaken by an AMTRA Assessor appointed for that purpose in a one-to-one 10 to 15 minute oral (“viva”) examination. The purpose of the assessment is to establish that the candidate has competence in knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the legal and professional responsibilities of SQPs, of the relevant parts of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations and the Code of Practice or of other germane legal and professional requirements.

Although this is an oral exam, candidates may be expected to read and interpret items presented to them, and should bring reading glasses if needed, in addition to any hearing aid normally used.

Farm animal module

All candidates will be sent a farm descriptor by Harper Adams University 3-6 weeks before their booked exam date. That farm descriptor will also be attached to the exam paper.

These farm descriptors will change on a regular basis, either in minor or substantial details.

Candidates will be expected to answer the exam questions based on the farm descriptor provided to them for their exam – not a previous version.

Candidates will be asked in SECTION A to:

Prepare a detailed control programme for either endoparasites, ectoparasites or use of vaccines for a defined farm animal species on the farm described. They will be asked to consider management as well as medicinal products, but cannot change the nature of the farm or the fundamentals of the business plan. There will be no preknowledge of which species or topic will appear in the exam. There will be no choice in the exam.

Candidates will be asked to discuss what an SQP should do in respect of prescription and supply of the medicinal products they have identified.

Marks will be awarded for:

  1. Clear practical control plan using products and timing appropriate for the study farm with justification for the choices made. All ages of the relevant species must be covered for an entire production year. Include management control methods.
  2. Clear consideration of responsible use of medicines (including, except for a vaccine question, addressing resistance)
  3. Comprehensive discussion of the requirements of the SQP Code of Practice and VMD guidance on retail of veterinary medicines in the prescription and supply of these products FOR THIS FARM, e.g. any supplementary questions, advice on administration, contraindications and warnings, storage, disposal, records, etc.

SECTION B will still focus on the same farm but will consist of short answer questions that will cover the farm species not specified in Section A, and the parasite group/vaccine options not covered. At least 1 question will focus on each of the 4 farmed species groups. Thus Section B will be matched with its own Section A.

SECTION C will be short answer and multiple-choice questions to cover the wider range of information and background knowledge.

Re-sit/reassessment papers will be in the same format but will be based on an entirely different farm description – which in itself will be modified regularly.

Withdrawal/cancellation fees

You must tell AMTRA at least 4 weeks in advance if you wish to withdraw from an exam, otherwise a fee will be charged. These are currently:

  • £50 fee if a candidate cancels (including failing to show for the exam) within two weeks of an exam, or
  • £30 fee if a candidate cancels between 4 and 2 weeks prior to the exam.

During the first six months of 2014, about 17% of SQP exam candidates withdrew from exams at short notice (within four weeks of the exam), or simply failed to turn up. This imposes significant administrative burdens on AMTRA and Harper Adams, and where exams fill up means that other candidates are turned away and also sometimes reduces the viability of courses run by colleges.

AMTRA is also concerned at the number of last-minute substitutions made by companies, where one candidate is withdrawn from an exam and another added. While each case will be done for good reasons, we are worried that the overall trend is likely to lead to candidates being given inadequate time to prepare for the exams.

Note that cancellation/withdrawal includes substituting one individual for another within the same company.

Although the fee is a cancellation/withdrawal fee, it is payable upon re-booking for a fresh exam.

Exceptional circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis but these should be exceptional – for instance, candidates should allow for traffic delays. Applications for consideration of exceptional circumstances should be made in writing to the AMTRA Secretary General.

These fees were introduced for all exams from 1 January 2015. At the same time, enrolment fees were reduced by £5 with a view to making the net financial effect of these changes zero.

Becoming an AMTRA SQP: How the process works

  • Introduction
  • Enrol with AMTRA
  • Book an exam (this page) – including the first exam, separate sittings, re-sits, the viva (oral exam), the farm animal module, withdrawal/cancellation fees
  • Exam results – including when you will get your results, and more on re-sits
  • What happens next – including CPD, annual fees, keeping AMTRA updated, upgrades (adding extra modules), and premises registration