You want to know how much and far you can get as a pharmacy technician just studying alone. Taking a college class specifically for the field is out of the question for you: you want to know how to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to become a bonafide, certified pharmacy technician. It will be a difficult challenge, that of which only the most dedicated can hope to overcome.
When you complete this guide, you will learn whether you can do a pharmacy technician self-study and ace the PTCB Test. Nothing will stop you!
Can You Self Study for Pharmacy Technician?
As an aspiring pharmacy technician, you can definitely earn your CPhT certificate and become a certified pharmacy technician through nothing but your grit and inexhaustive effort. The path to becoming a pharmacy technician outside of physical or online pharmacy tech schools involves training, dabbling into textbooks, reading materials, and existing examples, and, if necessary, some actual real-world experience.
You will have to put yourself through a lot of work in a shorter amount of time than any college student. Still, on the other hand, without having to spend hours traveling to campus to endure droning lectures or spending thousands on student debt and tuition, you are more accessible to self-study for pharmacy technician jobs and go about it at your own pace.
Now that we’ve understood whether someone can self-study for pharmacy technician, we need to ask how we can study for pharmacy tech and what a prospective pharmacy technician studies.
What Does a Pharmacy Tech Study?
Using the board-certified Pharmacy Technician Certified Board Exam, we can see that a pharmacy technician would have to be adept in nine fields of pharmaceuticals, or “knowledge domains:”
- Pharmacology for Technicians; or understanding drugs classes, drug mechanisms, and why specific medication is prescribed for particular diseases and disease states,
- Pharmacy Law and Regulations; knowledge of the laws and regulations for the distribution of drugs and the approval process,
- Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding; the difference between sterile and non-sterile drugs,
- Medication Safety; or how to safely apply and take medication,
- Pharmacy Quality Assurance; how to ensure that each medication reaches their patients safely,
- Medication Order Entry and Fill Process; knowing the procedure for ordering and filling medication,
- Pharmacy Inventory Management, or knowing the pharmacy delivery system,
- Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement; properly imbursing and reimbursing customers and their medication,
- And Pharmacy Information Systems Usage and Application; the system and knowledge of the system to maintain the supply and organization of medication.
The study process is relatively intuitive, and there are many avenues towards gaining the proper knowledge.
But what are you putting all this study for? Indeed, there is some end goal to stuffing your brain with knowledge of how to bill medication or use pharmacy computer systems. You need to complete the Pharmacy Technician Test to prove your understanding of pharmacology and make all that studying worth something in the end.
Is the Pharmacy Tech Test Hard?
According to the Pharmacy Technical Certification Board, the Pharmacy Tech Test is the only way to gain CPhT certification as a pharmacy technician. It stands to reason, then, that the test wouldn’t be so easy. You need 1200 points out of the possible 1600 to pass, putting your chances of success on the lower end of the scale. Only 80 of the 90 multiple-choice questions available on the test are graded, but you’ll never know which, so you need to spread your pharmacy technician knowledge evenly.
We previously went over just how challenging the Pharmacy Tech Test is, which gives you a good idea of what it takes to pass. If you want a refresher, know that you are required to have completed a training program or have equivalent work experience in the pharmaceuticals field to take the exam.
Passing the Pharmacy Technician Exam is a simple matter of study and preparedness.
How Do I Study for the Pharmacy Technician Exam?
Well, that is the critical question of the article: how to study for the pharmacy tech exam?
You study for the Pharmacy Technician Exam like you would any other test: after a period of intense book reading, question answering, and taking risks. The Pharmacy Technician Exam is done yearly and online. Once you arrive at your designated Pearson test center, you will have no help; you have to rely entirely on your knowledge of pharmacology pharmaceuticals in this certified assortment of 90 randomly selected questions. Studying for this exam requires extensive technical knowledge, such as knowing the specific terminology and practical experience and knowledge.
Now, you wouldn’t be asking how to study if you weren’t looking for tips on how to self-study!
10 Tips to Help You Ace Your Pharmacy Technician Exam
Here are just a few tips to help you prepare for the pharmacy technician exam. These will not require any physical or online pharmacy tech school, though be warned that this doesn’t mean you won’t have to put any effort into these exercises!
Take Up a Good Book
Take up reading material and other pharmacy-based textbooks. The material on the exam is highly technical; it relies on strict terminology and jargon often ripped straight from a manual, so this tip gives you great insight on how questions on the exam may be presented and what they’re asking for. Sometimes the difference between a tricky or easy question is how much you understand what it is looking for. Read textbooks particularly to understand the technical details as other pharmacy technicians would understand them.
Pharmacology Made Simple: An Introduction for the Health Professions
Practice the Practice Tests
The PTCB Practice Test is made precisely to give prospective test-takers a good idea of the test’s questions. It is an excellent way to see how your knowledge of the material works practically, and who knows; if you’re lucky, you might run into a practice problem on the exam! Of course, don’t put too many expectations on that. The Pharmacy Technician Test is an assortment of randomized questions to avoid this very thing!
Research the Exam
Research the “knowledge domains” of the PTCB Test and what the test could want out of you. Take notes on each knowledge domain, like the measurements and specific instructions for particular duties or ideas. Look for past examples of the exam and the experiences of test-takers who failed and succeeded.
Complete a Training Program
The PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Programs are designed for the exam; the same board that certifies pharmacy technicians also decides what questions and material and appears on the exam. Think of it as being told directly what the test will be like!
As stated before, you need to complete a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program take the PTCB Test as of 2020. You can sign up for one in your state at a local university or through an online pharmacy tech school.
A Hands-On Approach
Alternatively, you can get yourself the equivalent real-world experience working as a pharmacy technician (a minimum of 500 hours). Gaining experience and training before doing the exam is putting the cart before the horse, of course. Still, experience adds a new layer of knowledge and preparedness for the test.
Suppose you have already gotten yourself acquainted with the work of a pharmacy technician, toiling in the back rooms of a pharmacy and fulfilling prescriptions. In that case, I dare say you’ve already done the bulk of the study work for completing the exam! You may still miss some technical knowledge and intuition that you can only get through formal training or study.
Take some time every day to look over your notes and whatever knowledge you’ve gained. Come up with inspired questions or situations to answer, like “how many pills are in a bottle of x milliliters?” This exercise will help you anticipate unexpected or rare questions on top of flexing your understanding of more conventional questions and enables you to turn your litany of knowledge without using or needing cheat sheets. They say that you are your own worst critic; the exam couldn’t be any more challenging than what you choose to put yourself through!
Create a Schedule for Your Study Time
Come up with a specific plan or schedule to regulate your study time. Start the training program on Mondays, research exam questions on Tuesdays, do a practice test or two on Wednesday, read a chapter of Pharmacology Made Simple on Thursday, and top it off with a review on Friday.
Study for one to two hours every day. Regular study time is more valuable than cramming as much information as possible in your head. The most important task adhering to a schedule and stay consistent.
Rest and Relaxation
Over-studying is not just hazardous to your study habits but also to your health. Take breaks between study sessions; stretch your fingers, adjust your eyes, take a breather, and eat a snack. Much like exercising your muscles, the bulk of your improvement and change is between the resting periods of work-out. When your brain muscles repair themselves, and you look at the material with new, fresh eyes, you can come back to your notes and see if you can clear them all yourself.
Repeat the Cycle
Repeat the cycle as much as you can, taking the notes and absorbing them until they are practically irremovable from your skull. And when you have completed the first day/week/month, you start the next day/week/month, for every day/week/month until you can do all of the material in your sleep.
Get Fresh and Ready for Test Day
When the fabled Judgment Day arrives, remember to get a good night’s sleep, eat a fine meal, take some quick material to give a look over while at the testing center, and psyche yourself up for the test. Don’t cram: cramming relies too much on memorization, and in a panic, you can easily forget the most minor or most essential details when you need them the most. You need to have come to the test with days or weeks of knowledge prepared in advance so that approaching the test is less like marking a checklist of things and more proving your worth as a pharmacy technician.
Do not worry if you end up failing; you can retake the test after sixty days, though if you fail up to four times, you may need a justification to retake it. Remember, though, that you only need to pass it once to get your pharmacy technician certificate!
Wrapping Things Up: Can You Self Study for Pharmacy Technician?
Can you self-study for pharmacy technician jobs? It is not easy to develop everything you need to ace the PTCB Test and become a fully certified pharmacy technician. But if you are willing and ready to shoulder the task of studying, define your research ability, and pass the Pharmacy Technical Certified Board Exam, you can, in fact, self-study your way into the world of medicine and pharmaceuticals!
If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other medical school tips here.