The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) tests knowledge needed to successfully perform the work of pharmacy technicians.
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The exam is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and is required to achieve certification by the PTCB.
The PTCB reports that the passing rate of the PTCE is 75 percent.
To be eligible for certification with the PTCB and be allowed to take the PTCE, test takers must have a high school diploma or equivalent education, provide full disclosure of all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions, and be in full compliance with all required PTCB certification policies.
The cost to take the exam is $129. The exam is administered at Pearson VUE test centers nationwide and also at military test centers (for military applicants).
Once an application for certification is approved, candidates are required to schedule and take the PTCE within 90 days.
Test takers can cancel or reschedule an exam appointment, but changes must be made more than 24 hours before the scheduled appointment.
There is no charge to cancel or reschedule if at least 24 hours’ notice is given.
PTCB Exam Practice Questions
About the PTCB
Every item on the PTCE is a multiple choice question with four choices and only one correct or best answer. There are a total of 90 multiple choice questions, and the test taker has 110 minutes to answer them. Ten of the questions are asked for possible inclusion in future versions of the PTCE and will not count towards the final score, although test takers will not know which questions these are.
Test takers can skip items, change responses to questions, and come back to them later. There is no penalty for guessing on questions, so test takers should manage their time carefully in order to ensure enough time is allotted to answer every question.
There are questions in three different job function areas pertaining to pharmacy technician practice:
- assisting the pharmacist in serving patients (comprises 66 percent of the exam)
- maintaining medication and inventory control systems (22 percent)
- participating in the administration and management of pharmacy practice (12 percent)
When the exam is complete, an unofficial exam result will be printed and given to the test taker. Official scores will be sent in the mail within one to three weeks.
The PTCB recently announced that future versions of the PTCE will consist not of the three practice areas mentioned above but instead nine different “knowledge domains”:
- pharmacology for technicians
- pharmacy law and regulations
- sterile and non-sterile compounding
- medication safety
- pharmacy quality assurance
- medication order entry and fill process
- pharmacy inventory management
- pharmacy billing and reimbursement
- pharmacy information systems usage and application
Those who are considering taking the PTCE in the future should find out whether these changes will be implemented by the time they take the test.
Test takers will be scored on a scale from 300 to 950. The passing scaled score is 650. Scaled scores are determined by panel members of the PTCB who carefully estimate the percentage of pharmacy technicians that would be able to answer each individual question correctly.
Candidates are allowed to retake the PTCE three times. The first two times the PTCE is retaken, candidates must wait 60 days following the previous attempt before reapplying.
If a fourth attempt is necessary, a wait of six months is required after the third attempt before applying for the final time. Additional attempts may be allowed, but permission to take the PTCE for the fifth time (or more) will only be granted following a petition of the PTCB which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The PTCE can be administered for those who require special accommodations that are consistent with the American Disabilities Act at no additional cost. For those who wish to request special accommodations, a request form must be submitted to the PTCB within 30 days of submitting an application for certification.
If approved, test takers must call a Pearson VUE test center directly to schedule an appointment. Special accommodations cannot be requested for those who schedule appointments online.
The PTCB has a wide variety of study options available on its website, including the PTCB Practice Exam, PTCB Practice Calculations Exam, and the PTCB Practice Medication Usage and Administration Exam. All of these are available to take online. Upon completion of the Practice Exam, a scaled overall score as well as subset scaled scores for each of the three function areas are provided.
There are two versions of the Practice Exam available: one for those who want to determine areas of weakness and another to take later in order to assess test readiness. The cost is $29 for each practice exam.
Those who take a practice exam need to also be aware that the computer format used on the practice exams is different from the computer format used in one of the official testing centers.
How many questions are on the pharmacy tech exam?
The Pharamacy Tech exam contains 90 multiple-choice questions. 80 of these are scored and 10 are unscored.
Are you allowed to use a calculator on the PTCB exam?
You can use a calculator on the PTCB exam, but not one of your own. A standard calculator will be provided for you.
How much does it cost to take the PTCB exam?
To apply for the certification and take the PTCB exam costs $129.
How many times can you fail the PTCB?
The maximum number of times you can fail the exam is four. If you fail four times, you must be reapproved to take the test by the PTCB.
How long does it take to get the PTCB results?
Official PTCB results are usually made available within 3 weeks of your testing date.
How do you become a pharmacy technician?
To become a pharmacy technician, you must pass an exam given by the PTCB and either complete at least one year of technician experience or complete a training program.
How long does it take to become a pharmacy technician?
You can earn a certificate in less than a year through community colleges and vocational schools, or go for an associate degree, which will take about two years.
PTCB Study Guide
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