How do I Prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Exam?

Jessica Saras

In the U.S., many employers require potential pharmacy technicians to take a national exam to prove they have the knowledge and skills to begin a career as a pharmacy technician. Administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), the pharmacy technician exam covers a variety of topics related to the pharmaceutical field. A person’s test scores can greatly impact the type of jobs he or she is offered, as many employers require applicants to have above-average scores. Fortunately, there are numerous resources available to help students prepare for the exam.

Practicing pharmacy technicians may be able to offer exam tips.
Practicing pharmacy technicians may be able to offer exam tips.

Usually consisting of 90 multiple choice questions, the pharmacy technician exam is split up into three sections, each focused on a particular topic. The first section covers federal health care regulations, while the second is dedicated to inventory control. Finally, the third section quizzes testers on basic customer service skills and communication.

People studying for the national pharmacy technician exam should practice taking sample tests well in advance.
People studying for the national pharmacy technician exam should practice taking sample tests well in advance.

Although the certification board does not endorse any particular training courses or booklets, for a small fee, students can purchase a practice test from the PCTB. Designed to help students prepare for the pharmacy technician exam, these sample tests are formatted exactly like the actual exam, with questions covering the same material. A student’s score on these practice exams, however, remains confidential.

In addition to practice exams, the PTCB also provides an in-depth study guide to help students familiarize themselves with the information they will be tested on. Known as the Guidebook to Certification, this comprehensive document covers all of the topics addressed on the pharmacy technician exam. Students who extensively review the PTCB’s guidebook should therefore have full knowledge of all areas of the exam.

After reviewing the information found in the PTCB’s study guides, it is also beneficial for students to meet with their supervising pharmacist before taking the pharmacy technician exam. Speaking with someone who is already familiar with the material found on the test can be very useful for developing a successful study plan.

To register for the pharmacy technician exam, students must pay a registration fee, and select a date and location to take the exam. Due to the number of tests given each year, the PTCB schedules exam dates throughout the year, administering the test at locations across the U.S.

Students are given two hours to complete the test, which is typically administered on a computer. As a multiple choice exam, it is important to select the answer that best answers each question. Moreover, it is recommended for students to answer each and every question on the exam, even if they are unsure of the answer.

The PTCB mails test results approximately three to four weeks after the test is administered. While there is no limit on the number of times a person can take the pharmacy technician exam, students must pay the required registration fee each time they register. As a result, it is important to prepare for the exam initially, in order to avoid additional expense.

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Discussion Comments


How is the new PCTB exam? What materials did you use? Was it difficult compared the the previous exam, if you've taken the old format?

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