PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) Exam Format

PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Programs

PTCB recognizes different education and training programs, those that are ASHP/ACPE accredited. These programs are designed to provide foundational knowledge necessary for successful performance on the PTCB exams. While these programs cover essential topics, it’s important to review the PTCE content outline. This will  enhance your learning as needed.


The terms PTCB, PTCE, and CPhT are all related but refer to different aspects of pharmacy technician certification:

  1. PTCB (Pharmacy Technician Certification Board): PTCB is the organization that administers and manages certification for pharmacy technicians. They are responsible for creating and upholding standards for certification and re-certification in the pharmacy technician profession.

  2. PTCE (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam): PTCE is the exam administered by the PTCB that candidates must pass to become certified pharmacy technicians. The PTCE assesses the knowledge and skills necessary to work as a pharmacy technician in various pharmacy settings.

  3. CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician): CPhT is the title pharmacy technicians earn upon passing the PTCE. It signifies that the individual has met the required standards set by the PTCB and is qualified to practice as a pharmacy technician.

In summary, the PTCB is the organization, the PTCE is the exam they administer, and CPhT is the certification status individuals receive after passing the exam.

Eligibility Requirements for PTCB CPhT Certification

PTCB certifications are primarily intended for individuals within the United States and its territories. The PTCB exams are typically conducted within these regions. However, active U.S. military personnel and their spouses are permitted to take the exam globally. Applicants residing outside the U.S. may qualify under specific conditions. Learn more about international testing eligibility.

Certification Pathways: To qualify for the PTCB CPhT Certification, candidates must fulfill one of two primary methods:

  • Method 1: Completion of a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program, either currently enrolled and within 60 days of finishing, or already completed. A pharmacy degree may substitute for this requirement.
  • Method 2: A minimum of 500 hours of work experience as a pharmacy technician. This option benefits those who have practical experience but have not completed a formal PTCB-recognized program. All 500 hours must be documented by the time of application submission.

Additional Requirements: In addition to meeting educational or experiential requirements, applicants must:

  • Fully disclose any criminal history and any actions taken by a State Board of Pharmacy regarding their registration or licensure.
  • Adhere to all relevant PTCB certification policies.
  • Achieve a passing score on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).

For further details or to apply, please visit the PTCB’s official certification page.

PTCE Exam Format or Structure

The PTCB exam (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam) primarily consists of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) divided into various knowledge domains. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of questions you can expect:

Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs): All 90 questions on the PTCB exam are multiple-choice, with four possible answers for each question. Out of these, 80 questions are scored, and 10 are unscored but included in the exam to test future exam questions. These unscored questions are randomly placed and not identified as such during the exam​.

Content Domains: The exam covers four main areas:

    • Medications 40%: This section includes questions about pharmaceuticals, their characteristics, handling, interactions, and storage. It also tests the ability to calculate dosages and differentiate between generic and brand names​
    • Federal Requirements 12.5%: Questions in this area focus on the legal aspects of pharmacy work, including DEA and FDA laws, controlled substances, and recall requirements​ 
    • Order Entry and Processing 21.25%: This part of the exam involves calculations related to prescription management, understanding medical codes and terminology, and procedures related to non-sterile compounding​ 
    • Patient Safety and Quality Assurance 26.25%: This section deals with topics related to maintaining patient safety and quality in pharmacy services, such as error prevention strategies, hygiene, and handling high-alert medications​

Pharmacy Calculations: Questions that involve pharmacy calculations are common and can include dosage calculations, dilutions, and conversions. Candidates are often advised to understand the underlying principles rather than just memorizing equations to adapt to different question formats​ (PTCB Test Prep)​.

These questions are designed to assess both your factual knowledge and your ability to apply that knowledge in practical, real-world scenarios. To prepare effectively, it’s recommended to practice with PTCB-specific study materials and take practice tests that mimic the structure of the actual exam. This approach helps familiarize you with the exam format and question types you will encounter​

PTCB Exam Format

PTCB Scoring

The PTCB exam uses a scaled scoring system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Scoring Scale: The exam scores range from 1,000 to 1,600 points.
  2. Passing Score: A passing score on the PTCB exam is 1,400.
  3. Scored and Unscored Questions: The exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, of which 80 are scored and 10 are unscored. The unscored questions are randomly distributed throughout the exam and are not identified as such, which means you should treat each question with equal importance.

The scaling of scores is done to adjust for the difficulty of the specific set of questions on any given exam, ensuring that scores are comparable across different versions of the exam. This scaled score reflects your performance relative to the passing standard rather than just the raw number of questions you answered correctly​ .

Receiving Your Exam Score

After completing the exam, you will receive a preliminary score report immediately, and the official results will be posted to your PTCB account within two to three weeks. If you do not pass, the score report will provide you with a breakdown by knowledge domain to help you identify areas for improvement for future attempts​

Retaking PTCE Exam

If you need to retake the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) for the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) credential, here’s what you need to know about the process:

  1. Retake Waiting Period: After your first attempt, you must wait 60 days before you can retake the exam. This is designed to give you sufficient time to prepare and improve your knowledge based on the feedback from your score report. 

  2. Maximum Attempts: You are allowed a maximum of four attempts to pass the PTCE. If you are unable to pass after your fourth attempt, you must provide evidence of further preparation before you can reapply for the exam. This might include additional coursework or training. If you are unable to pass after 3 attempts the waiting period for fourth attempt extends to six  months. 

  3. Application for Retake: To retake the exam, you must reapply through the PTCB website. This involves completing a new application form and paying the exam fee each time you retake the test. Apply here

  4. Preparation: Between attempts, it’s important to review the detailed score report you receive, which highlights the knowledge areas you need to improve. Using this report, you can focus your study on weaker areas.

  5. Exam Fee: Each attempt at the PTCE requires payment of the examination fee, which is currently $129. This fee is payable each time you submit a new application for the exam.

PTCB General Questions

Best PTCB Study Guide

For those preparing for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), the AP Pharmacy PTCB Free Study Test Prep is an excellent resource. It offers a range of free practice tests that simulate the actual PTCB exam, covering essential topics such as pharmacology, pharmacy law, medication safety, and pharmacy calculations. This resource is particularly useful for candidates seeking comprehensive preparation without the investment of paid study guides. 

Our free practice tests and free questions are designed to help reinforce knowledge and assess readiness for the exam, making it a valuable tool for aspiring pharmacy technicians. Our practice test material consists of PTCB Flashcards, calculation questions, law questions, inventory management, pharmacy compounding, REMS management questions, iPledge questions, federal requirements, data entry, patient safety,  top 200 brand generic drugs list and much more.

PTCB What to Study?

To prepare for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), focus on areas such as pharmacology, pharmacy law and regulations, sterile and non-sterile compounding, medication safety, pharmacy quality assurance, and pharmacy inventory management. Reviewing the PTCE content outline on the PTCB website will provide specific topics and subtopics to study. Checkout our PTCB Blueprint for more information.

How Many Questions on PTCB Exam?

The PTCE consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, out of which 80 are scored and 10 are unscored but used for test development purposes.

Where to Take PTCB Exam?

The PTCE can be taken at Pearson VUE test centers, which are located nationwide. Candidates can find their nearest testing location via the Pearson VUE website.

How Hard is PTCB Exam?

The difficulty of the PTCE can vary for each individual based on their preparation and background in pharmacy topics. The exam is comprehensive and covers a wide range of subjects requiring thorough preparation.

How to Take PTCB Exam?

To take the PTCE, candidates must first apply through the PTCB website, meet the eligibility requirements, pay the exam fee, and then schedule their test at a Pearson VUE testing center.

How to Verify PTCB Certification?

Employers and others can verify a pharmacy technician’s PTCB certification through the PTCB’s online verification page, which provides up-to-date certification status.

How to Pass PTCB Exam 2024?

To pass the PTCE, focus on studying the areas outlined in the current exam blueprint, use practice tests to assess readiness, and ensure a deep understanding of each subject area.

How Often is the PTCB Test Offered?

The PTCE is offered year-round at various testing sites across the United States, providing flexibility for candidates to schedule their exam at a convenient time.

Which is Better: PTCB or ExCPT?

Both the PTCB and ExCPT certifications are recognized and respected in the pharmacy field. The best choice may depend on specific state requirements and personal or employer preference.

What is PTCB in Pharmacy?

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is an organization that certifies pharmacy technicians who meet specific educational and professional criteria, enhancing their credentials in the pharmacy field.

What Does the PTCB Exam Consist Of?

The PTCE covers areas like medications, federal requirements, patient safety and quality assurance, and order entry and processing, among others outlined in the detailed exam blueprint.

What Happens If You Fail PTCB?

If you fail the PTCE or PTCB, you can retake it after a 60-day waiting period for the second and third attempts, and a 6-month wait for any subsequent attempts, up to a total of four times.

How Many Questions Can You Miss on the PTCB?

The number of questions you can miss and still pass the PTCE depends on the difficulty of the questions and the scaling of scores. A passing score is typically set at 1,400 out of a possible range from 1,000 to 1,600. And don’t forget you have to clear a minimum level in each of the 4 sections of the exam as discussed above on this page in previous sections.

How Much Do You Need to Pass the PTCB?

To pass the PTCE, you need to score at least 1,400 on the scaled scoring system.

How to Check PTCB Score?

You can check your PTCB exam score by logging into your account on the PTCB website where scores are posted within two to three weeks after the exam date.

What Do You Need to Know for the PTCB?

Candidates should know pharmacy operations, medications, laws and regulations, safety procedures, and calculations, all of which are detailed in the PTCE content outline available on the PTCB website.

PTCB: How Long is the exam?

The PTCE is two hours 120 minutes long exam, including time for a tutorial and post-exam survey. Total 90 questions in the exam.

Can the PTCB be Taken Online?

As of the latest updates, the PTCE must be taken at a Pearson VUE test center, although accommodations for online proctored exams were made available during specific periods.

Can You Reschedule PTCB Exam?

Yes, you can reschedule your PTCE appointment through Pearson VUE, ideally 24 hours before your scheduled exam to avoid forfeiting your fee. Candidates have the option to reschedule or cancel their exam appointments at any time during their authorization period at no extra cost. To reschedule, either select ‘My Scheduled Exam’ in your PTCB Account or contact Pearson VUE by phone at (866) 902-0593.

Can I Take PTCB at Home?

Typically, the PTCE is taken at a test center, but check the PTCB website for any temporary provisions for at-home testing due to specific circumstances like public health emergencies.

Can I Take PTCB Without Going to School?

Yes, you can take the PTCB exam without attending a formal school program. The PTCB offers two paths to eligibility for the exam: one through a PTCB-recognized education/training program and another via equivalent work experience (at least 500 hours as a pharmacy technician).

Can You Use a Calculator on the PTCB?

Yes, a calculator can be used during the PTCB exam. Candidates are not allowed to bring their own calculators, but a basic calculator function is provided within the computer interface at the testing center.

How Long to Study for PTCB?

The amount of study time required for the PTCB exam varies by individual, depending on background knowledge and experience. Typically, candidates spend several weeks to months preparing, with an average of about 1-3 months of dedicated study.

PTCB Passing Rate?

The passing rate for the PTCB exam fluctuates yearly. Historically, the passing rate has hovered around 70%, but for the most accurate and recent statistics, it’s best to check directly with the PTCB.

Checkout the latest data here for PTCB Pass Rate

Drugs to Know for PTCB Exam?

For the PTCB exam, it’s important to know common brand and generic drug names, their uses, side effects, and potential interactions. This includes a wide range of medications across various therapeutic categories.

You can get top 200 Brand Generic Flashcards here to study online on the go.

Does PTCB Require Live CE?

The PTCB does require continuing education (CE) for certification renewal, which must include at least one hour of pharmacy law and one hour of patient safety. These can be completed through live or online courses as long as they are approved by the PTCB. Checkout PTCB live CE requirements here.

Does Texas Require PTCB Exam?

Texas does require pharmacy technicians to be certified and lists the PTCB as one of the acceptable certification exams. This requirement helps ensure that pharmacy technicians meet a standard level of competence. Checkout Texas State Board of Pharmacy site for uptodate information on PTCB requirements.

Is the ExCPT Easier Than PTCB?

Whether the ExCPT (Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians) is easier than the PTCB can vary based on individual preparation and aptitude. Some candidates may find the format or content of one test more intuitive than the other, but both are designed to rigorously assess the knowledge and skills of pharmacy technicians.

How Many Questions You Need to Pass for PTCB?

The PTCB exam consists of 90 multiple-choice questions, 80 of which are scored. A passing score is determined by a scaled score system, typically requiring a score of 1,400 out of a possible range of 1,000 to 1,600.

Can you reschedule PTCB?

Yes, you can reschedule your PTCB exam. Candidates are allowed to reschedule their examination appointment up to 24 hours before the scheduled test time. To reschedule, you would typically do this through the Pearson VUE website, where the PTCB exam is administered. There might be no additional fee if the rescheduling is done within the allowed time frame. However, failing to reschedule at least 24 hours in advance, or failing to appear for your exam, will result in the forfeiture of your exam fee. Always check the latest guidelines directly from the PTCB or Pearson VUE to ensure you have the most current information and specific instructions on how to reschedule your test.

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