Established in 1995 by the American Pharmacists Association, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Certification Exam (or PTCE) is a nationally accredited exam offered to potential pharmacy technicians and can be scheduled throughout the year at a variety of locations across the United States.
Once passed, the candidate becomes a legally certified pharmacy technician (or CPhT). After a six to eight week wait, a certificate and wallet card are sent to the new technician. The certificate is valid for two years from the date of issuance. To achieve this, however, you must pass the certification exam after extensive study and practice.
Passing the test requires memorization and practice applying the knowledge you’ve learned to different scenarios. The most important advantage you can have, though, is an understanding of how to take the test. With two hours allotted for the exam, assume that you can only give each question a one minute and thirty seconds of your time. If you read a question and don’t know the answer immediately, skip it, and revisit it only after you have answered all of the questions you know for certain. This ensures you don’t waste time and earn as many points as possible in order to achieve a passing grade.
Understand that there will be incredibly hard questions intended to delay candidates. As there is no penalty for guessing, try to answer every question to your best ability. Since the exam is taken online, the test is scored immediately, and the unofficial score is printed out for you at the end of the exam. Two weeks later, the official score is posted online. This delay allows for any debatable questions to be thrown out if need be.
Like most major tests, the PTCE is computerized and comprised of 90 multiple-choice questions. Ten of those questions are considered to be “pre-test” and will not actually count toward your final score. The questions that do count are divided into three categories.
A large portion (about 66%) focuses on serving patients in regards to processing data, communication, third-party payers, and similar interactions. The second largest (22%) determines how skilled you are at medication and inventory control by asking questions about supply identification, record-keeping, and quality control. The final piece (a mere 12% of the entire exam) covers your participation within administration and management. Expect to answer questions on safety practices, federal regulations, professional standards, quality assurance, and billing and accounting. You must score a 1400 to pass the exam and the exam can be taken a maximum of four times. After failing four times, you are no longer allowed to take the exam.
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