How to Pass the PTCB CPhT Pharmacy Technician Exam - MedCerts

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Complete Guide to the CPhT Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)

With more than 16,600 pharmacy technician jobs added each year, more passionate healthcare professionals are entering the field than ever. In order to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) and gain access to the most coveted jobs in the industry, you must first pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

In this guide, we’ll cover what the PTCE is, how to register, and provide tips for preparing for and taking the exam to help you pass with flying colors.

What is the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE)?

The PTCE is the most widely accepted certification exam employers use to assess the competency of pharmacy technicians. It covers a wide range of topics related to pharmacy technicians' scope of practice and is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

The computer-based exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as medication safety, regulations, and medication disbursement. The exam is offered at over 400 test centers across the US and has a 2-hour time limit.

Upon completion of the exam, your unofficial exam result will be presented on the screen, while official results will be available within two to three weeks.

Pharmacy technician exam eligibility requirements

Once you have a high school diploma or equivalent, you can take one of two pathways to meet eligibility requirements for the PTCB CPhT exam:

  • Pathway #1: Complete a PTCB-Recognized Training Program, OR;

  • Pathway #2: Minimum of 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician in a pharmacy practice setting.

Pharmacy technician certification exam sections and essential content

The PTCE exam assesses your ability to safely and accurately perform the duties of a Pharmacy Technician. There are four knowledge domains and areas.

Medications (40% of exam)

This is the most significant portion of the pharmacy tech exam, covering the Top 200 Drugs and then some. You'll need to be prepared to answer questions related to topics like:

  • Names and classifications of medications

  • Common and life-threatening drug interactions

  • Common and severe medication side effects

  • Proper storage of medications

Federal Requirements (12.5% of exam)

The next section covers the rules and regulations that pharmacy technicians must follow. You'll need to know information regarding:

  • Federal requirements for handling and disposal of substances

  • Federal requirements for controlled substance prescriptions

  • Federal requirements for restricted drug programs and related medication processing

  • FDA recall requirements

Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (26.25% of exam)

As the second-largest portion of the pharmacy technician exam, this part covers the skills and principles you need to keep patients safe. This includes topics, such as:

  • High alert/risk medications and look-alike/sound-alike medications

  • Error prevention strategies

  • Issues that require pharmacist intervention

  • Event reporting procedures

Order Entry and Processing (21.25% of exam)

Finally, you'll need to be able to answer questions related to the tasks Pharmacy Technicians must perform, such as:

  • Procedures to compound non-sterile products

  • Formulas, calculations, ratios, proportions, allegations, conversions, etc.

  • Equipment/supplies required for drug administration

  • Lot numbers, expiration dates, and National Drug Code

Is there a lot of math on the PTCB exam?

Yes, there is a significant amount of math on the pharmacy tech exam. Math topics covered on the exam include calculations related to National Drug Code (NDC) numbers, measuring and mixing medications, and working with measurements and conversions.

There is also a drug dosage calculation section of the exam, which focuses on evaluating medication orders for weight-based dosing, preparing dosage forms, and calculating the quantity of medication.

How to register for the pharmacy technician certification exam

Once you have met the eligibility requirements, you can register for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) via the PTCB website. Here’s how it works:

  • Create an account on the PTCB website and apply for the CPhT Certification and exam.

  • If you are a MedCerts student, your pharmacy technician certification exam cost is covered as part of your tuition. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the PTCB exam fee ($129).

  • Once you receive authorization, you can schedule your exam at a Pearson Professional Center or military on-base site.

How to prepare: PTCE (CPhT) online preparation course

The MedCerts 16-week online program prepares you to attain your CPhT and learn everything you need to ace the PTCE along the way. You'll gain invaluable knowledge about everything from processing prescription requests to educating patients.

The MedCerts tuition advantage makes tuition affordable for all.

Not only does the program include the medical assistant certification exam fee, but MedCerts offers payment plans for all eligible students. Pay in full, or break down your payments into smaller monthly installments.

Enrollment is fast and easy.

MedCerts’ education consultants make it simple to enroll so you can get started. You're eligible to apply if you have a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

All your materials are included when you enroll.

After you complete enrollment, you'll have everything you need to get started with your courses. Your tuition payments cover everything from expert-led video training to academic ebooks.

Pharmacy technician certification exam frequently asked questions

How much money can you make as a pharmacy technician?

A Pharmacy Technician can make anywhere from $18,000 to $45,000 per year. Pay depends on experience as well as the type of employer.

Is it hard to pass the PTCE exam?

The pharmacy technician exam can be challenging, so completing a preparation course is highly recommended. The pass rate for the pharmacy technician certification exam is 71%.

How do I schedule my PTCB exam?

Exams can be scheduled on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website.

Where do I take the pharmacy technician certification exam?

The PTCE can be taken online at home or at a Pearson VUE testing center.

What is a passing score for the PTCE exam?

To pass the PTCE exam, you need a scaled score of 1400.

How often do I have to renew my CPhT certification?

You must renew your Pharmacy Technician Certification every two years by completing 20 hours of continuing education and paying a renewal fee. You also need to maintain Pharmacy Technician registration with your state boards of Pharmacy.

How much is the PTCB exam?

The PTCB exam cost to obtain a CPhT credential is $129. This fee can be paid online when you register for the exam.

How long is the PTCB exam?

The pharmacy tech exam is two hours long. During this time, you’ll complete:

  • 5-minute tutorial

  • 1 hour and 50-minute exam

  • 5-minute survey after the exam

What happens if you fail the exam?

If you fail the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, you can retake it after a 30-day waiting period. However, you will need to pay an additional fee for each attempt.

You can fail the exam up to four times. After that, you must provide documentation to the PTCB to demonstrate adequate preparation since your last attempt. You'll then have to wait for approval to make another attempt at the exam.

What jobs can you get with a CPhT?

Compounding specialist ($24k - $55k)

A compounding specialist helps prepare – or "compound" – unique medications for individual patients who cannot take traditional medications. Duties include helping mix and measure ingredients, prepare prescriptions and maintain accurate records.

Pharmacy technician ($19k - $49k)

Pharmacy technicians provide customer service, stock shelves, and assist pharmacists in the preparation of medications. Therefore, pharmacy technicians must be knowledgeable about dosage forms, generic names for drugs, and drug interactions.

Medication Adherence Technician ($19k - $45k)

A medication adherence technician helps patients understand their medication instructions, side effects, and potential interactions. They also assist with monitoring compliance with medications and support patients with difficulty taking their medications as prescribed.

Ready to ace the pharmacy technician exam?

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) is an important milestone that can open doors for a rewarding career in pharmacy. MedCerts helps make it possible by offering a comprehensive preparation program with tuition advantages and easy enrollment for students. Explore MedCerts' expert-led certified pharmacy technician program today.


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Published on January 3, 2023