Viva (oral exam)

Candidates passing the new format Base or VN exam from September 2024 will not be required to sit and pass the viva. See the section Changes to AMTRA Exams in 2024 and 2025 for more on the changes from September 2024.

For candidates sitting the exams before September 2024, or who take up the final option of a re-sit on the older format exam in autumn 2024, then in addition to the written assessment, 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.

Your viva will be carried out online through Zoom – see the guidance in the "Managing your viva online through Zoom" section. Please ensure that you have read and understood these notes. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have suitable equipment, have installed the software, and are able to use it, and that you have access to a quiet room where you are alone.

AMTRA will communicate with you about your viva by email, with reminders by text message if we have a mobile phone number for you: please ensure we have accurate contact information for you, and read the communications promptly.

The viva exam is an additional check by AMTRA to go with the written assessments, to give AMTRA additional confidence that you are fit to be included on the Register of AMTRA RAMAs (SQPs).

The purpose of the assessment is to establish that you have knowledge, understanding and interpretation of the legal and professional responsibilities of RAMAs – 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 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 a RAMA 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 a RAMA in an online environment, but your qualification will allow you to work as a RAMA anywhere, so we need to be comfortable that you understand the freedoms and restrictions of the RAMA role in a range of retail systems.

The AMTRA Assessor may ask you to look things up in the Compendium 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? However, unless you are invited to use the Compendium by the assessor, you should not refer to it: you should already have a good understanding of the SQP Code of Practice and VMD guidance, and not need to refer to that part of the book.

You must bring AMTRA-approved photo ID to the viva, ready to show to the AMTRA Assessor when asked. Please read the Rules & Regulations on AMTRA viva examinations in this document.
Although this is an oral exam, you may be expected to read and interpret items presented to you on the screen, or read the Compendium, 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 RAMAs on their experiences; although vivas have moved online since the video was made, the experience should be similar.

Students tell us that they have positive experiences of the viva. They especially appreciate the friendly approach of the Assessor 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. The AMTRA office will advise you of your result which may be separate from the results of your written modules.
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 RAMAs.
We will normally make a video 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.