The CAOP (Competency Assessment of Overseas Pharmacists) exam tests your knowledge, skills and ability to apply your knowledge. It does not test your knowledge of the Australian legal or regulatory framework.

Passing the exam confirms that you can practise safely and effectively in an Australian setting, by analysing and evaluating practice-based material and problems.

This guide outlines the content areas that we assess. It is designed to help you prepare for your exam. We also suggest talking with your professional network about how you're preparing for the exam. Their support and advice might help you to perform better.

On this page:

Exam format

Before starting the exam, you are given 15 minutes to complete a tutorial designed to familiarise yourself with the exam software.

The exam consists of 70 questions delivered over a 2-hour session.

  • 62 questions are scored
  • 8 are unscored (pilot) questions.

All questions are randomised, but you can flag questions to return to review at the end of the exam.

All questions are multiple-choice questions with one correct answer out of four options, and some questions will relate to a patient profile. The majority of CAOP questions are standalone questions.

10 questions are related to patient profiles.

5 minutes is allocated after you finish the exam for you to complete a survey


You must complete all questions in the paper or papers you sit.

The pass standard for the exam is set at a level that demonstrates competency. The pass standard also takes into account the performance of candidates in prior sittings. This analysis of results over previous years ensures fairness and equity over a period of time. The level of difficulty remains constant across time.

You will receive a results certificate indicating your outcome.

We'll email you or your agent when your results are available. Expect this to be around 2 weeks after you sit the exam.

Question Content

Content category

Candidate Competency assessed in area including


Drug half lives

Required dosages

Drug concentrations


Drug interactions

Drug management

Health promotion activities

High risk drugs


Dosage forms

Drug preparations

Drug packaging

Drug labelling

First Aid competency

Primary care

Injuries (sporting, accidental, trauma)

Acute and sudden illness (chest pains, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness)

Therapeutic areas and disease state management






Ear, nose and throat



Malignant Disease

Nervous system




Back to top

Content areas

The CAOP exam examines your underlying knowledge and skills for Medicines Management and Patient Care (Domain 3) of the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia 2016.

To demonstrate this, you'll need to show you have suitable knowledge in each of the following competencies.

Content Area 3.1: Develop a patient-centred, culturally responsive approach to education management

Medicines management and patient care


Content assessed


Obtain relevant health and medicines information


Assess medication management practices and needs


Collaborate to develop a medication management strategy or plan

Content Area 3.2: Implement the medication management strategy or plan

Medicines management and patient care


Content assessed


Provide primary care and promote judicious use of medicines


Dispense medicines (including compounded medicines) in consultation with the patient and/or prescriber


Provide counselling and information for safe and effective medication management

Content Area 3.3: Monitor and evaluate medication management

Medicines management and patient care


Content assessed


Apply clinical review findings to improve health outcomes

Content Area 3.4: Compound medicines

Medicines management and patient care


Content assessed


Determine the required formulation

Content Area 3.6: Promote health and well-being


Content assessed


Support health promotion activities and health services intended to maintain and improve health

Back to top

Sample paper

To help you sit the CAOP exam, we provide an official sample paper.

Download sample paper (34 pages PDF)

This paper contains older questions to help you practise. These questions are no longer used, but they'll help you understand:

  • the types of content covered in the exam
  • how questions might be presented

If you want to practise the sample paper under exam conditions, you'll need to answer all 70 questions in 2 hours.


We base our exams on the latest information, which you can find in relevant:

  • journals
  • publications
  • textbooks

It's up to you to find this information. We expect you to have access to current, reliable information sources as a practising pharmacist. We do not endorse any external reference sources.

Your reference books must not contain any annotations, handwritten notes or loose additional notes.

However, you may highlight or flag parts of the text before the exam.

CAOP is a 'restricted open-book exam'. This means you can bring with you 1 copy each of the following approved reference books (any edition).


Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH) - an evidence-based independent medicines reference book


Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary (APF) - an everyday guide to pharmacy practice


British National Formulary (BNF) - the latest edition includes treatment summaries for all drugs commonly prescribed in the United Kingdom

Back to top

You may also like…

Was this page helpful?