Taking any exam can be nerve-wracking—especially when it’s one that certifies you for your career. Due to the application fee and the wait to retake the test if you do fail, the PTCB exam may seem daunting! You might be wondering, is the PTCB exam hard?
Some people find the PTCB exam hard, while others find it easy. Your results will depend on how knowledgeable you are, how much time you spend studying, whether you’re a good test taker, and which randomized questions you are given.
We don’t recommend taking this test before you’ve dedicated time to studying the material.
Luckily, we’re here to walk you step by step through the process of studying and taking your exam. In this article, we’ll discuss what the PTCB exam is, how difficult you can expect it to be, what materials are covered on the exam, and more!
What is the PTCB Exam?
The PTCB Exam (or PTCE) is taken to receive certification from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Certification is required to become a pharmacist technician in most states.
Even in the states which don’t require certification, becoming a certified pharmacy tech will increase your chances of finding a job and building your career.
Is the PTCB Exam Hard?
Whether the PTCB exam is difficult for you will depend on a variety of factors, including how good you are at test-taking, how much you’ve studied, and which questions you are given.
The average pass rate for the PTCE from 1995-2020 is 72%. In the year 2020, 70% of test-takers passed the test.
You shouldn’t be too worried so long as you study first—and we’re here to help with that!
The 90 multiple-choice questions on the PTCB exam are randomized, meaning each test taker will be asked different things. You may get lucky and receive only easy-to-answer questions, or you might be questioned about your weak points.
This random selection makes preparation even more valuable, as you want to be prepared for anything that might be on the test.
The next thing to know is that 10 of the 90 questions will be unscored. This means that, whether you answer the questions correctly or incorrectly, they will not have any impact on your test score. However, you won’t know which questions are unscored during your test.
You’ll have two hours to take the test, which includes five minutes to read the tutorial and five minutes to take a survey at the end.
How Much does the PTCB Exam Cost?
In 2021, the PTCB exam cost $129. You submit your payment when applying to take the test online.
If you’re not yet registered, you can do so on the PTCB website.
Keep in mind that you will only have 90 days to take the test after your application has been approved. If you need longer, up to two 90-day extensions can be requested.
Can You Retake the PTCB Test?
Yes, you can retake the PTCB test! You will have to wait for a period before reapplying, as follows:
- 60 days for a second attempt
- 60 days for a third attempt
- 6 months for a fourth attempt
After attempt number four, you’ll have to provide evidence that you’ve prepared for the test before retaking it again. However, you probably won’t get to this stage!
There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test, so long as you can afford to pay the application fee each time.
How to Prepare for the PTCB Test
It’s essential that you take time to prepare before your exam. You’ll need to be ready for any question that is thrown your way.
This isn’t a test you’ll be able to study for the night before and then pass! Below are some tips for making the most of your study sessions.
1. Know what’s on the Test
The following topics are covered on the PTCB Exam:
- Medications (40% of exam questions)
- Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (26.25%)
- Order Entry and Processing (21.25%)
- Federal Requirements (12.5%)
We’ve listed these topics in the order in which they’re asked about most on the test. Though you should be knowledgeable in all four areas to pass the test, it makes sense to dedicate more time to studying medications than federal requirements—after all, you can’t pass if you get 40% of the questions wrong!
When studying, you’ll likely want to break these topics down even further so that they’re less broad and overwhelming.
2. Study, Study, Study!
Now that you know what’s on the test, it’s time to study. Don’t go in blind, though!
First, figure out which study method works for you. Do you take in information best when you read, when you hear things spoken aloud, or when you write things down or draw charts?
Try a variety of study methods if you’re unsure, and feel free to combine them as well!
If you need help studying, try our online study guide. PTCB Hero will tell you all about the PTBC exam and also offers hundreds of practice questions to prepare you for the real thing.
3. Apply Your Knowledge
Lastly, you need to apply your knowledge to ensure you’re retaining what you study.
Try making or purchasing flashcards so that you can test yourself on each exam topic. Make sure that the flashcards you use are up to date, and quiz yourself with random cards throughout the day.
We recommend keeping your cards with you. This way, if you have some downtime, you can make use of it by studying!
If you’d rather have a more realistic testing experience, try our free PTCB practice test with questions from previous exams.
4. Remember to Take Breaks
Studying all day can seem productive, especially if you’re trying to cram right before test day. However, you’ll learn better with short study sessions spread out over time.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and remember to practice self-care between study sessions. Sleep, hydration, and a healthy diet will help you focus during your study sessions and while taking your test.
Lastly, believe in yourself—you’ve got this!