11/18/2023  By Don DiCicco

Are you ready to take your passion for pharmacy to the next level? Becoming a certified pharmacy technician could be your ticket to a successful and fulfilling career in the healthcare industry. But before you can start working in a pharmacy, you must pass the Certified Pharmacy Technician Exam. 

This article will guide you through preparing for and conquering the exam, giving you the confidence you need to ace it. Whether you're a recent pharmacy technician program graduate or an experienced pharmacy technician looking to get certified, we will provide the tools and resources to help you succeed. 

We'll go over the exam format and content and cover practical study techniques and recommended resources. We will also address common challenges test-takers face and offer tips to overcome them. Don't let the exam stand in the way of your dreams. Equip yourself with the knowledge and strategies to advance your pharmacy career.

Pharmacy technician certification is a vital step towards a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. To help you confidently navigate this exam, we've compiled seven insider tips that will set you up for success.


Student working on an exam.


1. Understand the Importance of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

Aspiring pharmacy technicians should recognize the significance of the PTCB. This exam, administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), evaluates your knowledge and skills in various pharmacy practice settings. Passing the PTCE demonstrates your competence and commitment to providing effective patient care across pharmacy environments. 

 2. Preparing for the PTCB Exam

Qualifying to Take the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

In addition to following an accredited training program, the PTCB accepts work experience as a valid background to become a qualified pharmacy technician. There are two ways to become eligible to take the exam for certification: 

  1. Complete a PTCB-recognized course of training and education. (This is the primary path.) You can find a list of qualifying education programs on the PTCB website.
  2. Technicians with a minimum of 500 hours of working experience as a pharmacy tech may also apply to take the exam.

Familiarize Yourself with the Exam Content

The PTCE exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions covering topics ranging from pharmacy law to medication safety. You must be well-versed in pharmacy calculations, medication order interpretation, and drug interactions to excel on the exam. There are many resources online to gain a thorough understanding of what will be covered on the exam.

3. Create a Study Schedule that Works for You

Craft a study plan that suits your learning style and schedule. Allocate dedicated time to cover each topic thoroughly. Incorporate practice tests into your routine to assess your progress and identify areas that need more attention. Consistent, focused study sessions will enhance your confidence and retention of essential concepts.


A student in intensive study.


Don't procrastinate and then try to cram too much learning into a short time. This is the recipe for overwhelm and stress. Most of us learn best when relaxed and able to absorb a few points at each session. Study guides and PTCB exam tutorials are available, so make use of these to help you prepare.

4. Utilize PTCB Practice Exams

The PTCB offers official practice tests that mirror the actual test format and include similar questions. Taking these practice tests allows you to experience the types of questions you'll encounter and become familiar with the exam interface. Analyze your results and use them to fine-tune your study plan. This process will help you identify strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to concentrate on areas that require improvement.

The PTCB certification exam consists of 80 scored questions and 10 unscored. Unscored questions are placed randomly throughout the test and do not count toward the score. To pass the exam, you must score 1400 of a possible 1600. The pass rate is approximately 71%, so if you are well prepared, there is no reason to think success is beyond your reach.

5. Leverage Your Certified Pharmacy Technician Program

If you're enrolled in a pharmacy technician program, tap into its resources. These programs often offer tailored study materials, practice exams, and expert guidance. Engage with your instructors and fellow students to gain diverse perspectives and insights into exam preparation. Collaborative learning can help you gain a deeper understanding of complex topics.

6. Exam Tips: Simulate Exam Conditions, Stay Focused

As the exam day approaches, simulate actual test conditions during practice sessions. Find a quiet, distraction-free environment and time yourself while answering questions. This approach enhances your time management skills and familiarizes you with the pressure of the exam setting, allowing you to remain calm and focused on test day. How you do on your unofficial exam will be a good indication of how you'll do on the real one.

7. Taking the PTCB Exam: Review and Manage Test Day Expectations

Schedule the exam appointment within your PTCB account at PTCB.org. If you need to reschedule, there is no charge as long as you do so 24 hours or more in advance.

On test day, arrive at the exam center with ample time to spare. Remember that the PTCE is a computer-based exam administered at Pearson VUE test centers. Throughout the test, maintain a steady pace, reading each question carefully and applying your knowledge to select the best answers. Stay composed and avoid second-guessing yourself excessively.

If any question on the exam seems unfamiliar or exceedingly complex skip it and come back to it later. Sometimes as you progress through the other questions, you may better understand the question, and the answer will dawn on you. At the very least, you will avoid wasting valuable time trying to answer an unfamiliar question and failing to complete the exam.

Exam Results and How to Retake the Exam

The unofficial exam result will be presented on your computer screen immediately following the test. However, you will receive your official exam scores in two to three weeks. Your wallet card and certificate should arrive four to six weeks after the exam.

A joyful graduate celebrates.

If you fail to pass the pharmacy tech exam, don't fret. You can take the exam again after 60 days. Study up on any weak areas and schedule your exam on the next convenient date. You can retake the exam up to four times.

Start Your Journey Now!

Becoming a certified pharmacy technician through successful PTCE completion opens doors to diverse career opportunities. By following these insider tips and maintaining a dedicated study regimen, you're setting yourself up to pass the pharmacy technician exam like a pro and embark on a fulfilling journey in the world of pharmacy. Good luck!


Summary: Your Pharmacy Technician Exam Cheatsheet!

  • Understand the significance of the PTCE for your pharmacy technician career.
  • Familiarize yourself with the content and format of the exam.
  • Craft a personalized study schedule and integrate practice tests.
  • Utilize official PTCB practice tests to assess and improve your performance.
  • Capitalize on the resources provided by your pharmacy technician program.
  • Simulate exam conditions to enhance time management and focus.
  • Approach test day with confidence and manage your expectations.