Improve Your PTCB Exam with These 4 Effective Techniques


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The medical field has many opportunities for those wanting to join it. You don’t have to be a doctor to make a positive impact on patients’ lives. Fields like pharmacy technicians provide invaluable services to the pharmacies. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4% growth in the pharm tech sector to the end of 2030. True, the figure may seem low if you compare it to other industries. But, with over 31,700 jobs opening up each year, many opportunities exist.  

Pharmacy technicians must undergo rigorous training and certification before entering the job market. And, one of the most important exams is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam (PTCB). 

As you can imagine, the examination can be quite difficult. Yet, it is a deciding factor on whether the students will ever call themselves pharmacy techs.  

If you will sit for the PTCB anytime in the near future, this article will prove quite timely. We will share some practical tips on improving your passing chances.  

Understanding the PTCB Exam

The Pharmacy Technician Certification exam is a requirement by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. The computerized test applies to:-

  • Recent graduates of pharm tech programs
  • Current pharmacy technicians who need licensing to acquire legal working status
  • Pharmacy technicians who need certification despite their state not requiring the same. Passing the exam strengthens their resumes, thus making themselves more attractive in the job market. 

After passing the PTCB exam, students earn the title of Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhT). 

Effective Tips for Passing the PTCB Exam 

  1. Learn About the Exam with the Free Online PTCB Exam Tests 

It doesn’t matter what kind of exam you are taking. The best way to prepare yourself is by knowing what to expect. There are valuable free PTCB practice tests available online that you can use. 

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The practice tests use material from the existing syllabus and cover the key areas, including:-

  • Medications (40%) include names, classifications, drug interactions, side effects, dosage, etc.
  • Federal requirements for pharmacies (12.5%), including their scope of operations. These are material handling, waste disposal, controlled substances, prescriptions, etc. 
  • Patient safety and quality assurance (26.25%) covers high-risk medications. Others are error prevention, intervention, hygiene standards, etc. 
  • Order entry and processing (21.25%) tests formulas, conversion, ratios, etc. 

Please note under each broad area are other categories. In total, you will cover nine subjects. 

The PTCB online practice test format is the same as what you will encounter when doing the final exam. It uses a multiple choice format which is quite easy to follow. 

Please note that you have 2 hours to complete 90 questions in the exam. The free PTCB practice test should allow you to gauge how comfortable you are with the time allocation. You can then take the necessary steps to ensure you can comfortably complete the exam within the time frame. 

  1. Work On Your Areas of Weakness

You have been studying hard for the exam. But, some areas are quite challenging for you. After taking the free pharmacy technician practice test, it only confirms the reality of the situation. Well, you should assign more time to these areas of weakness.  

So, let’s say your key problem area is math. Yet, you will find many questions on formulas, conversions, or calculations. The tricks you need to master are problem-solving, memorization, and plenty of practice. There is no magic formula other than hard work and proper preparation.  

  1. Learn How to Study Smart
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As a pharm tech, there is a lot you need to remember. Take the example of medications. It can be pretty daunting to have to learn all their names. You need to know the medicines brand and generic names. Add on other factors like schedules, indications, interactions, and classifications. 

Trying to cram all the names would be working hard. The trick is working smart. So:-

  • Focus on the top 100 drugs that doctors will typically prescribe. 
  • Use classifications to filter the information into digestible bits. An example would be all anxiety medications. They end in zolam/zepan and fall under schedule IV. The drugs will interact with alcohol and opiates. 
  • Know what kind of information will not be necessary for the exam. Going into an in-depth study of medication interactions, for example, may not help. We reiterate the importance of using the pharmacy tech practice test to prepare.  

Please ensure you allocate plenty of time to study. There are tons of resources, both online and offline, that will give you plenty of material. About six to eight weeks of thorough preparation should be sufficient. That way, you don’t put too much pressure on yourself with last-minute catch-up. 

  1. Master Working with Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple choice questions can be pretty confusing. Sometimes, the options are so close to each other that it can throw your head into a spin. So, prepare well by studying and taking the free PTCB online test exams. But, there is more.

  • Take time to read the questions carefully. Speed reading is never a good idea when doing an exam. You could miss pertinent information, leading to the wrong answer. 
  • Don’t let your frustration build by lingering too long on one difficult question. Put it on the side burner for some time as you tackle the other questions. Once you finish, you can go back and try to work it out. That way, you make better use of the time you have. 
  • Make sure you tackle each question. Leaving blanks is never a good idea. So, you can resort to guessing or the process of elimination. Where two answers seem similar, concentrate on factors like grammar or keywords. The examiners could be testing your attention to detail by including subtle errors. 
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Final Thoughts

Taking and passing the PTCB exam is a huge deal for pharmacy students. Indeed, it is the path that allows you to practice or work as a pharm tech. That is why you should take the time to prepare well for the exam.  

Unlike your predecessors, you are living in the internet age. That means you have access to tons of material at your fingertips. One of the best is the free PTCB online practice tests. They will give you a pretty good idea of what the main exam will look like. 

But beyond that, you get a chance to identify your strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can allocate sufficient time to areas that may make you fail the exam. 


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Praveen Saraswat
Praveen was born in India. He began writing in 2018, he lives in Agara. He has contributed lots of articles to Scoopearth and another website and the first time he published an article at Scoopearth