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How to Prepare for the PTCB Certification Exam

Are you thinking about having a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician? If so, getting certified is essential if you’re looking to have a career as a pharmacy technician. 

The PTCB, or Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, offers exams so that pharmacy technicians not only get certified but can begin working in their field. 

To prepare for the PTCB Certification you’ll want to understand what kinds of questions will be asked, how to prepare accordingly, and ensure you meet the exam requirements. 

Here’s an overview of what being a pharmacy technician entails, as well as what you can expect on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam and how to get prepared. 

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

A pharmacy technician is someone who works beside pharmacists to help supply, assemble, and provide information on medications to patients/customers, depending on the setting.

What makes a career as a pharmacy technician so wonderful is that you have the versatility to help people in a variety of different settings, including retail pharmacies, hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living, as well as other pharmacy care situations like mail-order locations. You even have the opportunity to work from home as a pharmacy technician!

As a pharmacy technician, you will be responsible for not only helping with the filling of prescriptions, but making sure other aspects of the pharmacy runs well, including dealing with customers, answering questions, managing inventory, receiving and mailing out orders, processing payments, and making sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly.

Now that we’ve covered a little bit more about what you can expect as a pharmacy technician, here’s what you need to know about preparing for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). 

What is on the PTCE Test?

The PTCE, or Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam is a test that consists of 90 questions. Of these 90 questions, only 80 are graded while the other 10 are not and are randomly spread throughout the test. As such, you’ll want to treat every question as if it holds the same weight. 

The exam itself is about 2 hours long, including a 5-minute tutorial at the beginning and a 5-minute survey at the end to cover what you’ve learned. 

The breakdown of these questions and how much weight they hold are as follows:

  • Medications (40%)
  • Federal Requirements (12.5%)
  • Patient Safety and Quality Assurance (26.25%)
  • Order Entry and Processing (21.25%)

The possible scores you can get on the PTCE range from 1,000 to 1,600. In order to pass, you must get at least 1,400. Anything below that is considered a failure and you will have to take the test again at a future date. There is no waiting period for your second or third exam attempt. However, if you fail three times in a row, you will have to wait six months before attempting to take it again. 

How Do You Prep for the PTCE?

As with anything in the medical field, the PTCE is a difficult exam. While it’s not impossible to pass it on the first try (the current pass rate is 71%) you need to be well prepared in order to do so. Here are some tips for how to prepare for your PTCE test:

Sign Up for a Prep Class

There are PTCE prep classes available to you where you can have aspects of the exam taught to you. This is a great way to get help for studying for the test. 

It keeps you focused on what’s most important so  you have a better idea of what’s on the test before going into it.


It’s recommended that you start studying for this exam 1 to 2 months before you take it. There’s a lot of ground to cover on this test and there’s no way you’re going to be able to cram it all in the night before.

Brush Up on Your Math

There are parts of the test that will require you to figure out formulas, conversions, and other kinds of calculations. Make sure that you’re ready to use your math skills throughout the course of this test.

Read Many Manuals

There are a number of pharmacy manuals that cover just about every aspect of being a tech. If you’re looking to keep these affordable, you can find these on Amazon. Read as many of these as you can get your hands on for a better understanding of the industry and what will be on the test. 

Take a Practice Test

There are plenty of materials online that let you take a practice test where you can get an idea of how you would do on the real thing. Try taking these practice tests from time to time and use them as reference to see how likely you are to pass the real thing.

Requirements to Take the Test

When it comes to taking the test, there are a few requirements that need to be met. First, you need to have completed a PTCB-recognized program within 60 days of your exam date. 

From here, you will need to sign up to take an exam. Exam dates are held all year round and are held regularly. All you need to do is schedule an appointment at a local testing center and you will be able to take the test.

Once you finish your test, you can have preliminary scores shown to you immediately after the test. However, final scores will be sent to you within 2 weeks of taking your exam. If you fail your exam the first time or second time, there is no waiting period before you can take it again. 

As noted above, if you fail the exam four times, you must provide evidence that you have prepared for the test before taking it again.

Earn Your Pharmacy Technician Board Certification with Bryan University!

Getting your Pharmacy Technician Board Certification can be difficult but it’s a path made easier by going through the Pharmacy Technician Certificate program at Bryan University

We put you on the path to success by teaching you the ins and outs of the industry and helping you with externship and outlook opportunities upon completion of the program. We even have a nationwide partnership with CVS Pharmacy, where our students will complete an externship, providing hands-on experience before graduation.

At Bryan University, you can become a knowledgeable and certified pharmacy technician with a fulfilling career. If you’re looking for a career in the pharmacy industry, Bryan University can help you get there.

Learn more about Bryan University’s Pharmacy Technician Certificate today!

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