American Pharmacist License Exam (NAPLEX)

NAPLEX, North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, is a multiple choice exam consisting of 185 questions. Get real NAPLEX questions here.

NAPLEX: How To Prepare

The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, better known as NAPLEX, was developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to assess the competency of individuals wishing to enter into pharmacy practice. It is used by state boards of pharmacy as a diagnostic of the mastery of the important aspects of pharmacy and will determine a candidate's ability to function reasonably in a pharmacy environment. The NAPLEX exam is no walk in the park, and students wishing to take the test can benefit from many NAPLEX study tools, many of which can be found for free online. Free NAPLEX preparation is the first step toward such a lofty goal, and individuals seeking the licensure should make use of every study aid available.

The NAPLEX is developed, administered, and scored based on the policies and procedures set forth by the NABP's Advisory Committee on Examinations and approved by the Executive Committee. The material covered by the test and the questions themselves are further approved by boards of practitioners, pharmacy, and educators all over the country as part of the Review Committee. Formal education, internship, and all manner of practical experience are considered relevant preparation for the NAPLEX, as well as for receiving a pharmacist's license. However, there are other study tools that can help aspiring pharmacists further their knowledge of potentially difficult information to be covered on the test (although none of these are sanctioned, endorsed, or recommended by the NABP).

When taking the NAPLEX exam, the new configuration does not include NAPLEX exam books as in the past. Instead, it is computer adaptive testing (also referred to as CAT). In taking the test, no test questions can be omitted or skipped - answers must be given before moving on to the next question. Also, because a candidate cannot go back and review questions and cannot change an answer once it has been confirmed and the next question is viewed, it is essential to read every question carefully and take the time to think it through, assuring that the best possible answer is marked.

In order to determine NAPLEX pass rates, the structure of the test must first be understood. The test consists of 185 multiple choice questions and tests knowledge, judgment, and skills of the candidate in three areas of competence: managed drug therapy, safe and accurate preparation and dispense of medications, and provision of information regarding drugs (including the promotion of public health). Many of the questions on the NAPLEX exam are referred to as "scenarios", referring to patient profiles and requiring the ability to interpret patient information as well as utilize the fundamentals of pharmaceutical knowledge. However, the majority of questions will be simple stand-alone multiple choice questions with simple answer choices not in relation to any kind of profile. Each question only has a single correct answer. To view NAPLEX review questions for a better explanation and understanding of the structure, look for a NAPLEX online review source, and download the information available. Using a guide, NAPLEX study becomes a much more manageable process.

In the testing situation, candidates are allowed about 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the 185-question exam. After the first two hours, a mandatory ten-minute break is implemented. Note that, of the 185 questions to be answered, 35 will not be scored. These are pretest questions that are being evaluated for use on future exams for their relevance to the subject matter. However, since these are interspersed throughout the test and are unmarked, it is still required that all questions be answered to the best of the examinee's ability.

The computerized NAPLEX is adaptive and will move to the next question based on a candidate's performance on the current question. Assuming that the current question is answered correctly, the exam will automatically move to a more difficult question. By contrast, an incorrect answer prompts an easier question as a result. This also means that, aside from scores, the test can track correct and incorrect responses based on difficulty levels as well. Using NAPLEX study cards marked with difficulty levels can help to prepare for such a procedure, helping candidates to learn material on all difficulty levels.

Upon receipt of the score, candidates will note that it is not formatted according to number of correct answers and does not reflect a percentage. It is a scaled score based on two elements: the number of correct answers and the difficulty level at which answers were correct. A passing score is a scaled score of 75. It is important to know that, if a candidate fails to complete at least 162 of the 185 questions, no score will be given, and if the test is incomplete, the score will be penalized. Therefore, if time is running short and there are several questions to go, it is in the best interest of the candidate to make educated guesses and answer all questions.

Licensing of pharmacists is not taken lightly because the lives of hundreds of people fall into their hands on a daily basis. Making sure that all medications are mixed properly, prescriptions filled accurately, and known allergies to medications not challenged is essential to the health of patients who trust their pharmacist to give them the medicine they need to get well, survive, or feel better. Therefore, the NAPLEX exam is not an easy test and incorporates all aspects of pharmaceutical care into the questioning. Once an individual passes the test, obtains a license, and begins practicing, it becomes his or her responsibility to assure that instructions are carried out carefully and all technicians are able to assist in a safe and secure manner. Taking on such tasks is a hefty responsibility, and the NAPLEX exam should never be considered just a formality.

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