The PTCB: Are You Ready?
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, or PTCB, is the administrator of the exam required to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). In order to achieve this status, one must pass the PTCB exam and, within two years of doing so, must obtain an additional twenty hours of continuing education for recertification purposes. PTCB certification allows individuals to place the CPhT designation after their name, signifying their credentials as a knowledgeable pharmacy technician. The goal of the certification program as laid forth by the PTCB is to offer better patient care and service through a more effective working relationship between the pharmacist and the technicians based on the additional knowledge and ability to implement policies learned through the program by the technicians.
Several requirements must be met for eligibility to even sit for the PTCB test. In order to certify or recertify, an individual may not have been convicted of a felony that occurred within the previous five years OR if the conviction was in relation to drugs are pharmacy in any way. Also, the candidate must have received either a valid high school diploma or GED prior to the deadline for application for the exam. If this documentation was received after the deadline, a written request for an exemption with a signed letter should be completed. The exemption request will be reviewed by the PTCB staff and evaluated on a case by case basis. Applicants will receive notice of a decision within two weeks of the receipt of such a request.
PTCB exam questions are divided into three separate functional areas, each of which holds a certain weight in the overall score of the test. The majority of the test (about 66%) focuses on Assisting the Pharmacist in Serving Patients. This section assesses the ability to follow instructions, work with patients, and provide customer service and interaction as required by both parties. Another section of the exam evaluates Maintaining Medication and Inventory Control Systems (22% of the test). This area concerns the ability to keep track of, maintain order in, and note expirations and stock levels of medication and supplies within a pharmacy environment. The third area of the test is Participating in the Administration and Management of Pharmacy Practice (12%) and assesses the ability of a candidate to help manage and control the functions within a pharmacy with minimal supervision.
The PTCB exam is in the format of multiple choice and contains a total of 100 questions, each with four answer choices. For each, only one answer choice is correct. Ten of the questions are "pretest" questions, not scored as part of your exam but simply used to evaluate the quality and application of these questions for future tests. However, since these are not marked and are randomly placed throughout the test, examinees should answer every question to the best of their ability. The three topical categories are also scattered randomly and are not sectioned separately in the test. Two hours are allotted for the entire experience including the exam tutorial, the test itself, and an exit survey.
To best prepare for the test, candidates should do their best to acquire PTCB study guides and at least one PTCB sample test. A PTCB study guide will incorporate the information necessary to pass the exam without lingering on any unnecessary information that will simply clutter the mind in the test taking environment. Taking a PTCB practice test will evaluate how much an individual knows prior to registering for an exam and target areas of weakness where further study may be required. While the PTCB does not endorse or sponsor any courses or manuals for PTCB exam test practice, there are several other sources from which a free practice test for the PTCB can be obtained.
Many websites offer PTCB quizzes and PTCB tests free of charge. Others have put together a free PTCB study guide to assist candidates in narrowing down study material to the basics of the application. With free PTCB material, potential candidates can better prepare for the test with multiple points of view and interpretations from various sources that each provide their own version of a sample PTCB exam. Another opportunity provided by the self administration of a free PTCB exam is to become familiar with format of the test and view the various types of questions that assess a candidate's skills and abilities. For a shorter sample of test questions, it is usually easy to find PTCB quizzes free of charge on websites dedicated to certification assistance.
In applying for a chance to sit for the PTCB exam, the application receipt deadline is usually about three weeks in advance of the actual test date. Testing windows of opportunity are typically open for one month, and should a candidate not be able to take the exam at the date requested, cancellation that is eligible for refund must be recognized within two weeks of the completion of the testing window. Testing is offered four times a year, given potential technicians every opportunity to take a PTCB online exam and study the results of their free practice test of PTCB prior to registering for a certification.
Because the requirements are not as hefty as many certification exams and the test is not as long, many more people are open to the idea of becoming PTCB certified. Fees are low, and tests are offered around the country, making it simple to sit for the exam for anyone who desires to get into a pharmacy setting. With the help of study guides and feedback from practice exams, anyone can adjust his or her own knowledge and skill sets to meet the requirements of the PTCB exam and start out on a new career path into the field of pharmaceuticals.