Grading Policy

2018 and Beyond

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The purpose of this policy is to outline student assessment evaluation of performance and subsequent grading in the PharmD curriculum. This policy applies to all faculty and staff contributing to the PharmD curriculum and all students enrolled in the UCSF PharmD program.


Formative Assessment: A low-stakes assessment designed to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback that can be used by students to improve their learning retainment and by instructors to modify their teaching and instructional activities. More specifically, formative assessments help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas for continued attention/study and help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately.

Summative Assessment: A high-stakes assessment designed to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit in comparison to an established standard or benchmark.

Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE): Experiences within community and institutional pharmacy practice settings involving supervised pharmacy practice and direct patient care experiences.

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE): Experiences within a variety of practice settings designed to enhance and refine student performance in pharmacy practice and direct patient care and to expose students to a variety of career pathways.

Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP): A forum on matters of common interest and concern to national organizations of pharmacy practitioners and invited liaison members.

Pharmacist Patient Care Process (PCPP): A consistent process for a patient-centered approach in collaboration with other providers on the healthcare team to optimize patient health and medication outcomes. This process is endorsed by 13 national organizations.

Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA): An essential task of a pharmacist that a learner can be trusted to perform without direct supervision in a given health care context once sufficient competence has been demonstrated.

Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCE): A type of examination designed to assess clinical skill performance and competence in skills such as communications, clinical knowledge, critical decision-making, and interpretation of results. A hands-on, real-world approach to learning, OSCEs keep examinees engaged, allow them to understand the key factors that drive the medical decision-making process, and challenge students to be innovative. In addition, OSCEs reveal student errors in case-handling and provide an open space for improved decision-making, using evidence-based practice for real-world responsibilities. There are formative and summative OSCEs in the Applied Patient Care Skills Course.

Preceptor 1-on-1: A type of formative assessment where the learner meets 1-on-1 with a preceptor and discusses a complicated patient case. The assessment incorporates the preceptor directly asking the student questions and then allowing the learner the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion with the preceptor.


The approach to assessment of student performance in the PharmD program is integration across the curriculum beyond any one subject or course and which embraces the philosophy of assessment for learning. Integrated coursework along with integrated assessments encourage students to connect all of the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom and clinical settings.

The assessment program promotes an individual path for each student toward competence in the unique knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for a successful pharmacist. Assessment activities contribute significantly to student learning by giving each student ongoing information (data and other feedback) about performance that is key to guiding their individual next steps in achieving the required PharmD competencies and milestones.

Eighteen core competencies define the expectations for students throughout the curriculum. Frequent formative assessments will guide student learning, promote reflection, and help shape student values about continuous improvement in their practice of pharmacy. Formative assessments have additional benefits because the act of testing has a positive direct impact on learning. Numerous studies suggest the active process of retrieving information from memory strengthens memory and leads to longer retention than re-studying or reviewing material.


The work of all students pursuing a PharmD degree will be reported in terms of the grades outlined by the UCSF Regulations of the Faculty of the School of Pharmacy Sections V[A]-[D]. The Honors grade (H) may not be available to students in certain courses and is further defined through the specific course policies below and subsequent course syllabi.

The expected standard of achievement for students in the PharmD curriculum is a passing grade (P) for all coursework. By passing a course, the student demonstrates the requisite knowledge and skills, and application of those knowledge and skills, at a level of competency established by the faculty. Student performance in a course is measured through assessments and all other learning activities and requirements in the course.

Required Didactic Curriculum Courses

Students are expected to complete the required formative assessments assigned in each course.

When a course employs longitudinal and structured small group learning, the course will include appropriate tools by small group leaders to assess student performance in various competency domains.

A minimum of two summative assessments will occur within each integrated theme course. These summative assessments may consist of a mixture of open-ended questions and/or multiple-choice questions emphasizing critical thinking, problem-solving, skills, or the application of knowledge rather than the recall of facts.

Students completing course requirements which meet the competency standards established by the faculty receive a grade (either P or NP) in each integrated theme course (integrating student performance across the core science and therapeutics thread, the inquiry thread, and the synthesis week [and professional readiness week if applicable to integrated theme course]).

Required Applied Patient Care Skills (APCS) Curriculum Courses

The APCS course is similar to the didactic courses, however, formative and summative assessments are structured differently. Formative assessments may consist of, but are not limited to, simulation, written or oral assessments, and preceptor 1-on-1 where students will receive feedback based on their performance. There will be one summative assessment consisting of a cumulative multi-station OSCE at the end of each theme.

Students completing course requirements which meet the competency standards established by the faculty receive a grade (either P or NP) in each APCS course.

Experiential Curricular Components

Assessment of student workplace performance for an IPPE is conducted utilizing the following combination of assessment methods:

A checklist to document tasks/activities that students and preceptor(s) complete in real time as the rotation progresses. The checklist also ensures uniformity in experience across different sites and for accountability of tasks/activities. Preceptor signatures are required before each submission to both attest to accuracy and ensure progress to date. Reminders are sent to students and checklists are uploaded/reviewed at scheduled times to confirm on-time progression. A final checklist is submitted along with a summative evaluation at the end of the rotation.

A student performance evaluation form designed around the profession’s entrustable professional activities (EPAs, which have been cross-walked to the 18 educational outcomes and the JCPP PPCP), whereby student performance of each EPA is rated utilizing a rubric.

Students completing coursework receive a grade (either P or NP) in each IPPE course experience.

Assessment of student workplace performance for an APPE is conducted utilizing the following assessment method:

A student performance evaluation form designed around the profession’s entrustable professional activities (EPAs, which have been cross-walked to the 18 educational outcomes and the JCPP PPCP), whereby student performance of each EPA is rated utilizing a rubric.

Students completing coursework receive a grade (either P or NP) in each APPE course experience.

2017 and Before

Instructors are required to assign for all students definite grades based upon work actually accomplished, irrespective of circumstances that may have contributed to the results. Course reports are filed with the Office of the Registrar by instructors at the end of each quarter.


Grades are reported as follows:

  • A = excellent
  • B = good
  • C = fair
  • D = barely passing
  • P = passing (equivalent to C or better)
  • F or NP = not passing
  • I = incomplete
  • IP = in progress

Grade points

Grade points per unit are assigned by the Office of the Registrar as follows:

  • A = 4 points
  • B = 3 points
  • C = 2 points
  • D = 1 point
  • F and Y = zero

Students receiving a grade of I or Y in any course must complete the course requirements by the time determined by the faculty of record but not later than by the end of the next quarter in which the course is given. A grade of Y is automatically changed to grade F and an I to grade F or NP if the requirements stated above are not met. A petition for extension of time may be submitted, and if approved by the Dean, must be filed with the Office of the Registrar before the end of the above stated terms. Grade I may only be assigned when students' work is of passing quality but is incomplete for good cause. Students may replace this grade with a passing grade and receive unit credit provided they satisfactorily complete the coursework in a way authorized by the instructor. Appropriate grade points will be assigned only if students establish that their work is incomplete for good cause. The grade Y is a non-passing provisional grade that may be raised to grade D if students satisfactorily meet the requirements designated by the instructor. Additional work assignments or reexamination may revise no quarter grade except I or Y. Unless authorized by the Dean, students may repeat only those courses in which they have received a D, F, or NP. (Exception for those courses normally offered for repeat credit.)

May I repeat a course?

Students may not repeat a course more than once in which they originally received a grade of D, F, or NP. When a course is repeated, the units shall be credited toward a degree only once. Students' grade-point averages shall be computed on the total number of units attempted and completed (successfully or unsuccessfully). At each repetition, students shall receive the grade and corresponding grade points assigned by instructors. Students may drop a given course only with the consent of the instructor and only once with a non-passing grade; students may drop an APPE only once.

Approved by the School of Pharmacy Faculty June 8, 2001; revised February 2011.

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