The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) 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?
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. Ten of these are unidentified unscored pre-test questions. You will be given two hours to finish the exam.
Domain 1: Medications (40% of the exam)
- Generic and brand names of medications, as well as their classifications
- Therapeutic equivalence
- Life-threatening drug interactions and contraindications
- Dosage forms, routes of administration, instructions for special handling and administration, and duration of drug therapy
- Medication side effects, adverse effects, and allergies
- Indications of dietary supplements and medications
- Drug stability
- NTI medications
- Incompatibilities pertaining to reconstitution and non-sterile compounding
- Proper medication storage
Domain 2: Federal Requirements (12.5% of the exam)
- Handling of hazardous, non-hazardous, and pharmaceutical substances
- Prescriptions for controlled substances and DEA controlled-substance schedules
- Receiving, storing, dispensing, ordering, and labeling controlled substances
- Restricted drug programs and processing pertinent medication
- Recall requirements from the FDA
Domain 3: Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (26.25% of the exam)
- Medications that are high-risk and high-alert, as well as medications that look alike/sound alike
- Strategies to prevent errors
- Issues that require the intervention of a pharmacist
- Procedures for reporting events
- Prescription errors
- Standards for cleaning and hygiene
Domain 4: Order Entry and Processing (21.25% of the exam)
- Compounding products that are non-sterile
- Sig codes, formulas, proportions, alligations, conversions, ratios, and calculations
- Drug administration supplies and equipment
- NDC numbers, expiration dates, and lot numbers
- Identifying and returning supplies and medication which have expired, are dispensable, or are non-dispensable
How is it Scored?
You will receive your score between 1 and 3 weeks after your testing date.
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)!