The pharmacy technician exam can be challenging. That’s why when you take your first glance at the Pharmacy Technician Exam Board (PTCB), you probably don’t know what to do. You have a feeling that it will be easier than you thought if you just study and nail it on the first try. But you are quickly learning that that is not always the case.
The PTCB exam is rigorous, with multiple-choice questions covering a variety of topics and scenarios relevant to pharmacy technicians. Because of this, many people fail their first attempt. Even if you are past the initial shock of failure, being unprepared can make the entire process feel more overwhelming than it needs to be.
What Is the Pharmacy Technician Examination Board (PTCB) Exam?
The Pharmacy Technician Examination Board (PTCB) exam is a licensing exam that you can use to earn a job as a pharmacy technician. You can also use it to get experience in the healthcare field, as many pharmacy schools (and employers) prefer to hire people who have completed the exam.
This exam covers a variety of topics in pharmacy practice. You’ll learn about common drug interactions, requirements for handling controlled substances, and how to maintain a safe pharmacy.
You’ll also learn about common medical scenarios, such as diabetes and hypertension. The exam is typically broken up into sections. The necessity of adequate preparation cannot be overemphasized, so you need to be properly guided.
How to Study for the PTCB Exam
The pharmacy technician exam is rigorous. Why? because it tests the core knowledge and practical skills that pharmacists use every day. If you don’t practice these things, you’ll likely be stuck in an endless cycle of memorization.
Luckily, there are a few very simple things listed below that you can do to prepare for the exam that will set you up for success.
1. Explore Various Study Resources
You can begin by using a pharmacy tech study guide in your preparations. There are many other resources available for preparation to take the PTCB exam.
They include but are not limited to drug reference books, training materials, and calculation guides. Take special note of the outline and pay more attention to it during the study. Past questions and study guides like the PTCB study guide on Medical Hero are also good resources for preparation.
2. Take PTCB Practice Tests
As said earlier, there are no “simulated” exam questions. That being said, there are practice tests. These are great because they let you see exactly what to expect on the day of the exam. If you have access to one, you can use it to your advantage.
This may sound trivial, but signing up for a PTCB practice test is a great way to get used to test-taking. Doing a PTCB practice test is a great way to internalize the flow of the exam and get comfortable with taking it. This will help you on your first attempt.
When working on your PTCB practice test, remember to time yourself. This helps you to be conscious of time and not be carried away during the real exam. It will help you learn how to use your time judiciously.
3. Practice With Study Groups
Practicing with study groups helps to keep you on track and fosters accountability. Every time your group meets, ideas and knowledge can be exchanged. Setting up PTCB practice test questions among one another helps you remember and retain useful information for a long time. The study group could be friends or other people preparing for their PTCB exam as well.
4. Create a Personal Study Time
To ensure success in your PTCB exam, you must study rigorously. You should create a personal reading plan to follow daily or weekly, depending on what works for you. Most importantly, be consistent and diligently follow the study times. This keeps your mind sharp and fresh with information.
5. Learn With an Instructor
There are a variety of pharmacy tech training programs that can help you get ready for the PTE exam. While these can be helpful, we would caution you to keep in mind the purpose of the exam: to prepare pharmacists to take care of patients.
6. Visit Your Test Center
Visiting your test center allows you to familiarize yourself with the location. This would save you the stress of locating your test center on the main day or missing it altogether.
Find out in advance about any restrictions, rules, or regulations that might apply to the center. For example, some centers might not allow cell phones, GPS, or any other electronic device. Finding out in advance would save you a whole lot of trouble.
Encountering surprises on the day of your exam could throw you off balance.
7. Prepare to Bring Your Materials
While you are welcome to use exam-prepared materials in the exam, it is highly recommended that you prepare and bring your materials. In most cases, the material that the testing center provides is identical to the exam. Bringing your materials helps you identify what you need to be successful.
8. Physically Prepare
On your exam day, you must be physically prepared. Go to bed early on the night before your exam so that you can be well-rested and refreshed in the morning. Have a healthy breakfast and also stay hydrated. Finally, ensure that you arrive at your exam center early enough to calm your nerves and body.
9. Take Needed Breaks
Preparing for your PTCB exam can be tedious and daunting if you do not take breaks. It is necessary to come up for air intermittently. You could practice yoga, stretch your body, take a long walk, or even nap to rest from all the studying. This also helps relieve the anxiety induced by the exam.
10. Keep Practicing
Practice does not just mean memorizing the questions and memorizing the correct answers. Practice applying everything you’ve learned. Your test center will likely have practice exam questions to help you practice, so utilize them.
But if you’re not going to a test center, practice at a friend’s house or a community center. Whether you’re practicing alone or in a group, you’ll be able to see where your strengths and weaknesses are.
There are many advantages to being a certified pharmacy technician, and that is why the PTCB exam is important. Anyone can write and ace their PTCB exam on the first try as long as the preparation is taken seriously. These tips are a guide to help you prepare and develop your confidence.