The varying levels and quality of students’ prior knowledge pose a challenge for instruction at university. Due to the scarcity of studies in pharmacy, in this study pharmacy students (N=126) prior knowledge of biosciences was measured at the beginning of their first study year using a questionnaire comprising ten multiple choice questions and a case task. The results of multiple-choice and open-ended questions revealed serious gaps and different-level misconceptions in students’ answers partly related to the absence of elementary knowledge. The level of prior knowledge correlated with study progress measured at the end of the first study year. The study’s findings suggest that it is possible to identify students at risk of delayed studies using this kind of relatively light pre-test. Problem-solving tasks such as case descriptions can be used to detect potential misconceptions. The pedagogical implications of these results are discussed.
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