Unfortunately, there is no specific passing score for the PTCB test.
And this means that there is no magic number of correct answers to aim if you want to make sure you’re successful (other than aiming to get every single question right, of course!).
Now, you may be wondering why there’s no standard passing score. I mean, how do they decide which applicants pass and which fail? Well, don’t worry, we’re here to explain how it all works.
How is the PTCB exam scored?
Before we can cover how the PTCB exam is scored, it is important to note how the exam is administered.
You see, the PTCB does not give each candidate the exact same exam. Instead, they use multiple exam forms, which are different versions of the same exam designed to test the same content.
Now, this may seem like it has the potential to be unfair. After all, given the choice, wouldn’t everyone opt for an easier test?
But, since the PTCB exam isn’t administered on any specific day, it is essential that exams are different. You see, if candidates were all taking the same exam on different days across the year, there is a very real risk that some would share information on which questions were included.
So, how does the PTCB make sure it is treating all applicants fairly while still making sure that candidates can’t find out exactly what’s on their exam?
Well, since it isn’t possible to ensure that every exam has the exact same level of difficulty, candidates’ scores are ‘scaled’.
This means that candidates’ scores are statistically adjusted by converting raw scores onto a common scale to account for differences in difficulty. And for easier exams, candidates must answer slightly more questions correctly in order to pass.
To explain further, the PTCB says: “Scaled scores are comparable across candidates despite slight differences in exam difficulty from one exam to another, and therefore allow all candidates to be held to the same scoring standard”.
What is the minimum passing score for the PTCB exam?
OK, so there is no way of knowing exactly how many questions you need to answer correctly in order to get that all-important pass mark.
But there is a passing scaled score.
And this score is 1400, with a range of possible scores from 1000 to 1600.
Yep, that’s right. It sounds weird, but scores start at 1000… even if you get every question wrong!
But, wait. How does the PTCB decide what the passing score should be? Let’s take a look:
How did the PTCB decide what the passing score would be?
When you’re thinking about something as important as the PTCB exam, you probably want to be sure that everything’s done correctly.
So, you’ll be relieved to hear that the exam’s passing score wasn’t just pulled out of nowhere.
In fact, the PTCB used a very clever method known as the ‘modified-Angoff method’ to decide their scoring.
This means that a panel of industry experts established a passing score for the PTCE by evaluating individual test questions and estimating the percentage of qualified pharmacy technicians that would be able to answer each question correctly.
Pretty neat, huh?
But wait, if the total range of possible scores is 1000-1600 and 1400 is the passing score, you should definitely pass if you answer 66% of questions correctly, right?
Let’s take a look:
What percentage of questions do you need to answer correctly to pass the PTCB?
OK, while we are impressed by your quick maths, answering 66% of the questions right is no guarantee that you’ll pass.
And we’re sorry. We know how tempting it is to look for an exact number of correct answers to aim for.
But remember that pesky scaling? Well, it means that you could answer 66% of questions correctly, but have some of your correct answers scaled down in their contribution to the final score – leaving you below the magic 1400.
Or you might be assigned a particularly tough exam, and answer less than 66% of questions correctly…but get your score scaled up and pass anyway!
What does this mean for your PTCB exam preparation?
This is all interesting if you’re a stats geek, but the bottom line is scaling makes it impossible to say a particular percentage of correct answers equals a “pass” on the PTCE.
So, you’re far, far better off aiming to answer as many questions right as possible, rather than wasting your energy trying to figure out what exact number of right answers will give you a pass.
Even so, you have a rough guide. Are you regularly scoring 80% or more in practice exams like those contained in our PTCB Hero study guide? In that case, although there are no guarantees, you’re highly likely to pass your exam if you can achieve a similar performance on the exam itself.
Want to know how you might score if you took the exam right now? Take our free PTCB practice test to find out!