How to Pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam: Tips and Tricks

  • Pharmacy Technician
  • March 12, 2024
  • 5 min read
How to Pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam: Tips and Tricks

Are you an aspiring pharmacy technician planning to sit for your Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) soon? If you are like most students, you are probably nervous or downright terrified about standardized testing.

At best, unless you are one of the lucky few who genuinely excels at this style of testing, it is something you are excited to get through so you can start applying for your dream job.

Guess what? Even though your test anxiety is real, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With the proper preparation protocol, you can enter your Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE exam feeling confident and ready to crush it.

Whether you’re just starting your journey in the pharmacy field or you’re ready to take that next step toward certification, this article should have some helpful details for you. Also, if you plan to take an alternative pharmacy technician certification exam (e.g., ExCPT) instead of the PTCE, do not worry. This article focuses on universal tips to help you prep smart for your big day.

Read More: How Technology is Changing the Role of Pharmacy Technicians

Understanding the Exam Structure

Understanding the exam you’re about to face is half the battle. To combat test anxiety, ensure you understand your exam’s structure, length, format, and timeframe. This will ensure that you can do appropriate practice before game day. Here’s what you need to know…

Exam Content

You must review the content outlined as you prepare for your certified pharmacy technician exam. The PTCE covers everything from medications and pharmacology to pharmacy law and ethics. It’s all about ensuring you have the know-how to support pharmacists and provide top-notch care to patients.

Each section has a mixture of questions regarding theoretical knowledge and practical, task-related knowledge. You must review all sections of the exam outline to study correctly.

Format and Timeframe

The certified pharmacy technician exam is a 90-minute test with 90 multiple-choice questions. It is essential to practice this length and style of exam in advance to develop your mental stamina. 

Practice under similar conditions in the weeks leading up to the test to stay sharp throughout the entire exam without getting overwhelmed. It also will help you manage your time effectively so that you do not get the jitters, or get rushed near the end of the test due to poor time management.

Success Outcomes

According to the PTCB, 70% of candidates pass the exam. That should give you a nice confidence boost going into the test day. 

Effective Studies Strategies

Create a Study Plan

If you don’t explicitly allocate time on your calendar to prepare for the certified pharmacy technician exam, it is improbable that you will spend enough time preparing for the test. Random study sessions aren’t going to cut it, and remember, consistency is key.

A helpful way to hold yourself accountable for spending enough time preparing for the test is to create a study plan. By creating a plan, you will be forced to identify the order in which you plan to review topics, the deadlines you plan to meet as you study, and the amount of time you intend to study each topic. 

Be realistic about how many hours per day and week you can study given your other commitments to family, work, etc. Slow but steady progress is much more effective than cramming for the exam, so make sure to start early, at least a month in advance. Schedule breaks to avoid burnout because if you go too hard, or too fast, you will not stick with your plan.

Finally, focus more time on areas where you need improvement, as high performance in some areas of the exam is often insufficient to balance out poor performance in specific areas.

Dreamers $4499 Scholarship

Utilizing Study Resources

There are many free and paid resources available to help prepare you for your certified pharmacy technician exam. 

If you attend an accredited school like Northwest Career College, your curriculum will likely be tailored to the content outline for at least one of the significant pharmacy technician exams. Other resources are available, such as PTCB’s official study guide, pharmacy textbook, online forums, and YouTube tutorials. 

Mixing up your study formats can help keep things fresh and improve retention. People should consume content in various, dissimilar formats when they have difficulty remembering or mastering a topic, as one of them will sometimes stick unexpectedly and help you get the correct answer during your exam.

Practice exams

The most important thing you can do to prepare for your certified pharmacy technician exam is to take practice exams regularly. Studies have shown that practicing standardized tests can significantly improve your exam performance. 

Practice exams help you familiarize yourself with exam content. They also help you become comfortable with the format and timeframe, as recommended above. They also help you develop stamina and give you peace of mind that you can make it through the test.

Furthermore, practice exams also can help you correctly allocate time within your study plan. They will highlight which topics need less practice and which require more time to study. Ultimately, practice exams help you make every other part of your study plan more effective. They supercharge your use of study resources so that you can understand the content and apply your knowledge in an exam-specific context.

Dreamers $4499 Scholarship


As you prepare for your certified pharmacy technician exam, you will notice that most of the essential things you can do to prepare have nothing to do with the pharmacy industry, per se. Instead, they are specific to test taking, so if you pursue additional education after becoming a pharmacy technician, remember that these strategies can help you ace any certification test. 

Focus on the fundamentals, such as learning and familiarizing yourself with the exam structure, covering all exam content during your study sessions, and regularly assessing your knowledge with practicing exams.

Samantha Huntsman
Pharmacy Technician Program Chair

Raised in Cedar City in southern Utah, Samantha ended up in Nevada in 2014 after moving here from Minnesota to escape the winter. After graduating from Cedar City High School, Samantha moved to Southern Utah University where she got her…Read Full Bio

Related Article