Viva (oral exam)

In addition to the written examination, you will have a one-to-one 10 to 15 minute oral examination, also called a viva voce or just viva. This will be carried out by one of AMTRA’s Assessors.

The viva timetable will be issued by Harper Adams University. The vivas will normally start shortly after the written examinations have been completed, continuing for the remainder of the day. Occasionally some vivas may take place before afternoon written exams, or between written papers, in which case this will be made clear to candidates. Candidates should make adequate provision to attend this part of the examination.

The viva exam is an additional check by AMTRA to go with the written exams, to give AMTRA additional confidence that you are fit to be included on the list of AMTRA SQPs.
The purpose of the assessment is to establish that you have knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the legal and professional responsibilities of SQPs – what you are allowed to do, how to do it, and what you are not allowed to do.

The viva will focus on checking your understanding of and ability to implement in practice the key legislative elements of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations, the SQP Code of Practice, and the VMD’s guidance for retailers, all found in the Base module section of the AMTRA training manual.

Some of the questions may be about your interaction with a customer. It may be helpful to think in advance about how you as an SQP would interact with a customer if you were working in a different sort of business from where you currently work. For instance, you might be planning to work as an SQP in an online environment, but your qualification will allow you to work as an SQP anywhere, so we need to be comfortable that you understand the freedoms and restrictions of the SQP role in a range of retail systems.

The Compendium will not be available for general reference during the viva, though the AMTRA Assessor may ask you to look things up to demonstrate familiarity with use of the book – for instance, can you check whether a particular product is suitable for use in pregnant cats or look up the milk withdrawal period of a particular product?

Just like the written exam, you must bring AMTRA-approved photo ID to the viva. Please read the rules on Entry to AMTRA SQP Examinations (in this manual attached to the exam booking form).


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


Have a look on the AMTRA website – there is a short video giving a bit more information about the viva with some feedback from SQPs on their experiences:

Students tell us that they have positive experiences of the viva. They especially appreciate the friendly approach of the examiner and being set at their ease in the viva exam. Some people tell us that they were nervous or anxious beforehand but found it much easier than they had expected.

The viva will normally last 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes they can be a little longer, but you should not be concerned if this happens – the length of the viva is not related to the decision of the assessor.


The assessor will make some notes as they go along. They may make some remarks but aren’t allowed to tell you whether you have passed or not. You will find out whether you passed when AMTRA writes to you with the results of your written modules, up to 9 weeks after the exam.


Try to answer as fully as possible. The assessor is there to help you show what you know, not to trick you, so if you aren’t sure what they mean, say so – they can then re-phrase the question. If you still are unable to answer, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. At this point the assessor can move on.


Don’t be concerned if the assessor moves on with the questioning. The viva time will go quickly and there is a lot to talk about. You will be asked a range of questions addressing various elements of the work of SQPs.


We may make a video or audio recording of the viva as an additional record in case of query. Normally it will just be you with the assessor, but occasionally an additional person may be present as part of our quality checking of our assessors.