PTCB unveils redesigned certification exam for pharmacy technicians

December 15, 2013

Reorganized exam replaces three subject areas with nine. Testing time and number of questions remain the same.

Early in November, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) introduced a retooled version of its Pharmacy Technician Certification exam (PTCE). According to an official announcement, the updated exam measures the knowledge technicians need "to effectively support pharmacists and advance patient safety in today's pharmacies."

25,000 queried

PTCB based its changes to the exam on the findings of its latest "Job Analysis Study," which surveyed more than 25,000 pharmacy technicians in all 50 states. According to the official announcement, PTCB makes a regular practice of conducting this survey to keep current its understanding of changes in working conditions and job descriptions for pharmacy technicians. 

"The PTCE is widely recognized and trusted to accurately reflect the current knowledge, skills, and abilities required for pharmacy technicians to effectively perform their duties, support pharmacists, and advance patient care," said PTCB Executive Director and CEO Everett B. McAllister, MPA, RPh, in a prepared statement. "The November updates in the PTCE are based on our latest study across community, hospital, and federal settings, with an increased focus on patient safety."

Changed and rearranged

According to PTCB, the updated examination places a greater emphasis on particular bodies of information, including medication safety and pharmacy information systems. The test was extensively recast, particularly through its arrangement around specific knowledge groupings and job function areas, each of which was broken down into even more particular subsections. The resulting examination has replaced three basic segments of the examination with nine. According to its official statement, no change was made to the 110-minute duration of the exam, the total of 90 multiple-choice questions, or the testing fee, which remains at $129.

The exam will be offered at 237 Professional Centers across the country, as well as at military test centers. Pharmacy technicians can schedule their examinations, take a practice exam, and apply for certification, as well as find more information about PTCB and its services, at the PTCB website. A guidebook for candidates, outlining certification guidelines and requirements, can be found here.