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What you need to know about the PTCB Exam
All information and our test prep has been revised to reflect 2020 PTCB revisions.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board® uses this test, which is actually called the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), as one of the four requirements for certification as a pharmacy technician. The test was designed as a result of a job analysis study conducted by the PTCB that determined the knowledge and skills needed to work as a pharmacy technician. It is also revised periodically based on input from pharmacy professionals. One such revision culminated and went into effect on January 1, 2020. Eligibility for the exam was also amended at that time. For information on this, please see the section on Eligibility below.
The 2020 edition of the PTCB Exam poses 90 questions about four “knowledge domains” (as opposed to nine domains in the old test) in the area of pharmacy. Below is a list of these domains and the approximate percentage of questions on the actual test that deal with each. You will notice that we have a corresponding section of PTCB practice questions and flashcards, as well as a study guide on each of these sections to help you prepare.
- Medications (40%)
- Federal Requirements (12.5%)
- Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (26.25%)
- Order Entry and Processing (21.25%)
Of the 90 questions, only 80 will be scored. The additional 10 questions are not, but you will not know which questions they are.
Note: A few content areas from the old test are not covered anywhere on the new test. They include the entire section on “Billing and Reimbursement,” as well as scattered concepts previously contained in the sections that were called “Laws and Regulations,” “Medication Safety,” “Quality Assurance,” “Inventory Management,” and the sterile compounding portions of the old “Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding” section in the old test. These concepts may now be addressed either in the new education and training requirement or by the new tests for advanced PTCB credentials. There are three new advanced credential programs:
- Hazardous Drug Management
- Controlled Substance Diversion Prevention
- Billing and Reimbursement
Answers to all your questions about the PTCB Exam
Table of Contents
What are the costs?
The basic fee for the PTCB application and initial certification test is $129.00. There are also fees for recertification, reinstatement, and various reprocessing and late application submission occurrences.
What should I bring?
On the day of the exam, you will be required to present proof of identity. If you don’t have an acceptable form of identity you will not be allowed to take the exam, so make sure you are familiar with the credentialing guidelines and requirements before test day.
How is it scored?
The score you receive on the PTCB Exam will range from 1000 to 1600. An unofficial version of this score will be available to you immediately upon test completion. Your official score report will be available in your PTCB account within 2 to 3 weeks after testing.
You must score 1400 or more to pass this test. The score is a scaled score, meaning that each item has been reviewed by experts, based on the percentage of qualified pharmacy technicians that would be able to answer it correctly. Then, an average was obtained of all items and a passing score was established.
What kind of job can I get?
Becoming certified as a pharmacy technician can be the beginning of a solid career path that is predicted to experience growth in the next 10 years, according to U.S. News and World Report. Pharmacy technician is listed there as a job that provides above average upward mobility, including foundation learning for continuing your education to become a licensed pharmacist. Flexibility in schedule is also listed as a positive aspect of this job. There are also many different work settings, including larger stores, smaller pharmacies, and hospitals.
Am I eligible?
Effective January 1, 2020, to apply for certification from PTCB, you must satisfy these requirements:
Complete one of the following:
A PTCB-recognized pharmacy education/training program within the past 60 days or possess and degree in Pharmacy
Documented 500 hours of equivalent work experience
No matter which of the above paths you take, you must do all of these:
- Fully disclose all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy licensure or registration actions
- Comply with all PTCB certification requirements
- Attain a passing score on the PTCE (PTCB Exam)
You may apply to take the exam up to 60 days prior to your training program graduation, but permission will not be granted until you submit evidence of completion of the program.
After you receive authorization to test, you will have 90 days to take the exam.
The PTCB Exam may be retaken if you do not receive a passing score, but you must wait 60 days between the testing sessions for the first through third attempts, and each test requires the same testing fee. There is a six-month waiting period between exam attempts after the third try. If, after attempting a passing score four times, your scores are still deficient, you will be required to show proof of acceptable remediation accomplished after the final testing attempt.
Why does it matter?
To become a pharmacy technician, you must be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Becoming certified as a pharmacy technician requires you to obtain a passing score on the PTCB Exam, which is one of the keys to your future as a certified pharmacy technician.
What salary can I expect?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a pharmacy technician is between $29,000 and $42,000, depending greatly on the pharmacy location. Higher salaries tend to be in place at pharmacies located in general hospitals. The highest paying pharmacy technician jobs involve working in places like outpatient care centers and in federal government positions. Pharmacies located in grocery stores tend to offer the lowest pay rates.
When is it available?
The PTCB Exam is administered at Pearson Vue test centers across the United States. You can find information about how apply to take it in the guidebook.
Keep in mind that the scheduling permit is only good for 90 days, so don’t apply for it until it is within 90 days of the date you wish to test.
How much time is allowed?
The testing time is about 2 hours, of which 10 minutes is devoted to a pre-exam tutorial and a post-exam survey.
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