The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam or PTCE Blueprint is used by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) to acknowledge candidates and license them according to their skills, knowledge, and abilities as pharmacy technicians. Passing this exam not only certifies you but allows the possibility of better job placement, better pay, and a more enjoyable career.
Who is Eligible?
As of January 2020, the PTCB has new eligibility requirements. The following are the two ways that one may use to become able to take the PTCB exam.
- The first way is to Complete a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program (or be less than 60 days from your expected completion). Currently, there are over 1,400 approved education and training programs available.
- The second way is to obtain more than 500 work hours as a pharmacy technician.
Applications are done online, and the cost is $129.
When and Where Can I Take it?
Once your application has been approved, you will receive an invitation to schedule your exam. The exams are computer administered by Pearson VUE at one of many testing locations throughout the nation. These can be scheduled year-round.
After your registration for an exam time is complete Pearson VUE will send you a confirmation email with the date, time, and place of your exam.
What Should I Bring?
Pearson VUE recommends that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your exam starts. There will be a check-in process that requires a primary form of identification. This must include your full name as it appears on your application, your signature, and a recent and recognizable photo. If any information is missing or incorrectly shown, you will be asked to provide a second form of ID.
Acceptable forms of primary ID are:
- Military ID
- Driver’s license
- Permanent Resident Card
- US Department of Homeland Security employment authorization card
- Immigrant and non-immigrant visa issued by the U.S.
- State ID card
As the exam is given by computer, you will not need any testing materials or personal items to be brought. Items such as cell phones, calculators, writing utensils, and study materials are prohibited and will not be allowed in the testing area. Acceptable calculators and other testing materials will be provided at the testing site.
What Does it Cover?
The PTCE contains 90 multiple choice questions. 10 of these are unidentified unscored pre-test questions. You will be given two hours to finish the exam.
Domain 1: Pharmacology for technicians 13.75% of the exam
Generic and brand names of pharmaceuticals, drug interactions, common and severe side or adverse effects, allergies, and therapeutic contraindications associated with medications, dosage and indication of legend, OTC medications, herbal, and dietary supplements, strength/dose, dosage forms, physical appearance, routes of administration, and duration of drug therapy, and therapeutic equivalence
Domain 2: Pharmacy law and regulations 12.5%
Controlled substance transfer regulations, verifying a prescriber’s DEA number, restricted drug programs and related prescription-processing requirements, requirement for consultation, FDA’s recall classification, hazardous substances exposure, prevention, and treatment, storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, controlled substance documentation requirements for receiving, ordering, returning, loss/theft, destruction, record keeping, documentation, and record retention
Professional standards related to data integrity, security, and confidentiality, and roles and responsibilities of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other pharmacy employees, reconciliation between state and federal laws and regulations, infection control standards, facility, equipment, and supply requirements
Domain 3: Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding 8.75%
Handling and disposal requirements, infection control, documentation, selection and use of equipment and supplies, non-sterile compounding processes, sterile compounding processes, determine product stability
Domain 4: Medication Safety 12.5%
Patient package insert and medication guide requirements, look-alike/sound-alike medications, high-alert/risk medications, identify issues that require pharmacist intervention, common safety strategies, and error prevention strategies for data entry
Domain 5: Pharmacy Quality Assurance 7.5%
Infection control procedures and documentation, risk management guidelines and regulations, communication channels necessary to ensure appropriate follow-up and problem resolution, quality assurance practices for medication and inventory control systems, and productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction measures
Domain 6: Medication Order Entry and Fill Process 17.5%
Intake, interpretation, and data entry, fill process, calculate dosage required, order entry process, labeling requirements, dispensing process, packaging requirements
Domain 7: Pharmacy Inventory Management 8.75%
Ordering and receiving processes, approved/preferred product list, storage requirements, removal, function and application of NDC, lot numbers, and expiration dates
Domain 8: Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement 8.75%
Third party resolution and reimbursement systems, healthcare reimbursement systems, coordination of benefits, and reimbursement policies and plans
Domain 9: Pharmacy Information System Usage and Application 10%
Databases, pharmacy computer applications, and documentation management, as well as, pharmacy-related computer applications for documenting the dispensing of prescriptions or medication orders
How is it Scored?
You will receive your score at the testing center before you leave. This may be presented to you on your computer screen, on a paper score report, and/or a confirmation notice of completion after you have finished.
Possible scores can range from 1000 to 1600, with a passing score being a 1400 or higher. This score is decided upon by a panel of content experts and is based on the difficulty of the questions included in the exam.
If you do not pass, you may retake the exam 60 days after your initial attempt. Each application and attempt must be paid for separately. After your third unsuccessful attempt, you must wait six months and after four attempts, you will have to provide evidence of acceptable preparation activities.
How Can I Prepare for the PTCB Test?
We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success. We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market. Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!