By Caity Tarbert, Tests.com Contributing Writer
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) are examinations taken by individuals seeking licensure in the pharmaceutical field. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) are two exams taken by pharmacy technicians to become certified professionals. The former two exams are typically taken by graduates or pending graduates of college pharmacy programs, and passing scores are required to move on to becoming a licensed pharmacist. Conversely, the latter two examinations are optional, yet beneficial, to individuals seeking employment as pharmacy technicians.
The NAPLEX is used by state boards of pharmacy as part of their assessment of capability of individuals to practice pharmacy. It is a computer-administered test designed by Pearson and is taken at a local Pearson test center.
The NAPLEX consists of 185 multiple-choice questions, only 150 of which are counted towards the final test score. 35 of the questions are pretest questions that are only included to help test writers design future exams. The NAPLEX has a time limit of four hours, 15 minutes and includes an optional 10-minute break after two hours. There is a $465 fee to take the exam.
Most of the questions on the NAPLEX are asked in a scenario-based format. For instance, a patient profile will accompany the test questions, and the test-taker will be asked to refer to the profile to make an educated guess as to the correct answer. Approximately 54% of the test questions are related to assessing pharmacotherapy to ensure safe and effective therapeutic outcomes. 35% of the NAPLEX's questions are based upon assessing safe and accurate dispensation of medications, and the remaining 11% of the questions are centered on assessing, recommending, and providing health-care information that promotes public health.
Online registration for the NAPLEX is available at http://www.nabp.net. Registration forms are also available by contacting the state board of pharmacy or from pharmacy schools.
Passing score for the NAPLEX is 75 or higher. The score is based on the number of questions answered correctly and their difficulty level. Test takers must answer at least 162 questions in order to have their test scored.
The MPJE is required as a prerequisite for a pharmacy license in 43 states. It tests knowledge of pharmacy law. Individuals can sit for the MPJE, a computer-adaptive exam, at a Pearson VUE test center in their area. The MPJE is considered computer-adaptive because it presents questions based on answers to previous questions on the test.
The MPJE lasts two hours and consists of 90 multiple-choice questions. Only 60 of these questions are actually scored. The other questions are used for pretesting purposes. The cost of taking the MPJE in 2009 is $185.
A little over three quarters of the questions on the MPJE are questions on pharmacy practice. Questions on licensure, registration, certification and operational requirements make up 17% of the test, and the remaining 5% of questions are related to regulatory structure and terms.
Registering for the MPJE is done through the same avenues as the NAPLEX. Online registration is available at http://www.nabp.net, and paper forms can be requested through state boards of pharmacy or through pharmacy schools. One important detail to note is that individuals must have graduated pharmacy school in order to take the MPJE.
Individuals must answer at least 77 of 90 questions on the MPJE to have their score reported, and the minimum passing score is 75. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the MPJE score is calculated by first determining the candidate’s ability level and then comparing it to the predetermined minimum-acceptable ability level established for the MPJE.
The PTCE is taken by pharmacy technicians. Though it is not a required aspect of working as a pharmacy tech, it may allow individuals to work more effectively side-by-side with pharmacists, not to mention opening up promotion opportunities and the possibility of a higher salary. It is developed and administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and taken at Pearson VUE test centers.
The PTCE is a computerized exam consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions, 10 of which are classified as pretest questions and do not count towards scoring. Individuals are given two hours to complete the PTCE, and the cost of the exam in 2009 is $129.
The PTCE has three areas of focus for question topics, and 66% of the questions are focused on assisting the pharmacist in serving patients. Additionally, 22% are related to maintaining medication and inventory control systems, and 12% are based on participating in the administration and management of pharmacy practice.
Online registration for the PTCE is available at ptcb.org. In order to be qualified to take the PTCE, individuals must have a high-school diploma or its equivalent, have no felony convictions, no drug- or pharmacy-related convictions, and no denial, suspension, revocation, or restriction of registration or licensure, consent order or other restriction by any state board of pharmacy.
PTCE scores range from 300 to 900, but only scores of 650 and above are considered passing.
ExCPT – Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians
The ExCPT is another exam for pharmacy technicians in any type of practice in the United States. It is developed by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and taken at a LaserGrade test center.
The ExCPT is computer-based and made up of 110 multiple-choice questions. Only 100 of these questions are scored, and two hours are given to complete the test. Individuals interested in taking the ExCPT must pay a $95 fee. Exam candidates may register by calling the toll-free LaserGrade phone number at 800.211.2754 to arrange a test date, time and location.
ExCPT questions center around the areas of regulation and technician duties, drugs and drug products, and the dispensing process. The first two question topics make up approximately 48% of the exam (25% and 23%, respectively), and the last topic makes up the last 52%.
Individuals sitting for the ExCPT will be given an official report at the conclusion of their exam which will let them know their score and whether or not it is considered to be passing.
For all of the pharmacy-related exams, a government-issued I.D. is required to be shown at the test center. Sometimes two forms of identification are required. Scrap paper or a white board is often provided, and individuals can consult exam administrators as to other rules and regulations.
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Sources: National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, nabp.net; Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, nationaltechexam.org; Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, ptcb.org