There are over 400 000 pharmacy technicians employed in the United States. Each of those technicians passed the unavoidable Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE).
Passing is crucial to starting the career you’ve been working for.
To do well on the pharmacy technician exam, you must be a good studier. It’s not enough to re-read your notes the day before. Luckily, it’s never too late to improve your study habits.
Is your PTCE coming up? Are you stressed about potentially failing? Rest assured you won’t if you use these seven PTCE studying tips.
1. Understand the Exam Format
The PTCE is unlike other exams you’ve taken in school. It will test your knowledge of an entire field in only 90 questions.
The questions are all multiple-choice, but they jump from subject to subject. You must be able to recall important details on the spot.
Here are the topics most represented on the exam:
- Order filling and medication filling
- Medication safety
- Laws and regulations
You get two hours to complete the exam, which means speed and efficiency are key. Many of the answers will be similar to each other, so learning specific details is important.
Learn everything you can about this certification so you can prepare yourself.
2. Use All Study Materials
Take advantage of all the resources available to you. Your notes should be neat and organized from your classes. You should still have your textbooks from your courses.
Besides using your personal materials, look online.
You can find pharmacy flashcards online or you can make your own. There are PTCE study books that focus on studying for this particular exam.
Consider asking past students for their notes if they still have them. Their advice on the exam is invaluable since they took it and passed.
Use a variety of learning styles to study with. Watch lectures on video, listen to audio lectures, and read your textbooks. If one learning style is more beneficial for you, use it more.
3. Make a Study Schedule
It’s ideal to start studying for the PTCE at least three months in advance. Before you begin studying, make a study schedule for the month ahead.
Make it a goal to study at least one hour every day.
Some days you’ll have more time to dedicate to studying than others. Rather than scheduling 12-hour study days, plan smaller amounts of studying every day.
Give yourself breaks often. Every hour get up and stretch and drink some water. Every couple of hours, walk around and do something you enjoy.
Find a study environment that doesn’t have distractions. That could mean putting your phone in another room while you study. Or, going to the library, school campus, or a café.
4. Take Practice Tests
Practice tests will become your new best friends as you study for the PTCE. You can find tons of practice exams online. Your teachers may also have resources for you to find practice tests.
Do a mix of timed and untimed practice tests. The timed ones matter for your speed. You need to be able to recall the answers to 90 questions in less than two hours.
The untimed practice tests help you flesh out the questions and answer accurately.
You should do at least one of each practice test every week. By the week of the real exam, you’ll be passing your practice exams with flying colors.
5. Create a Study Group
After a few weeks of independent studying, create a study group with your classmates.
Studying in groups is helpful because you can quiz each other. You can also learn from their study tips and tricks. Groups of 2-10 are usually most effective.
Teaching others is an effective way of studying. Try explaining concepts to your classmates as if they know nothing about pharmacy. Explaining concepts out loud is another way to help your memory.
Try to meet with your study group for a couple of hours each week. You could even try taking a practice test altogether. A mix of solo and group studying is beneficial for your learning.
6. Optimize Your Brain Power
You should focus on living a healthy lifestyle all year, but especially before an exam. You have a better chance of remembering information if your brain is nourished and calm.
Clean up your diet at least a month before the exam. Limit the refined and processed foods you eat. Increase the amount of fiber, complex carbs, omega-3’s, and proteins you eat.
Drink water all the time. Everywhere you go, bring a water bottle. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day.
Get your body moving. Go for a power walk or run once a day. Practice stretching and strength building.
Your mental health is also imperative for passing the exam. Address your stress by going through the possible outcomes of failing or passing. Speak to a therapist if you need more help with stress and anxiety.
7. Avoid Cramming
The reason you start studying three months before the exam is because it’s effective. Studies show that cramming the night before is rarely successful.
The sooner you start, the less stress you’ll feel in the days leading up to the exam.
The night before the PTCE, review your notes. Don’t push yourself too hard. It’s important to get a full eight hours of sleep before the exam.
On the morning of the exam, eat a nutritious breakfast. Meditate to calm your anxiety. Review your notes one more time but feel great about how prepared you are.
Ready to Take Your Pharmacy Technician Exam?
It’s okay to be nervous to take your pharmacy technician exam. Everyone in your class is nervous. But, if you followed the study tips above, you’ll likely be more prepared than anyone else.
After passing, celebrate your accomplishment.
Then, start preparing for the workforce. Getting a job in the field you want is another challenge to prepare for. Read these 3 helpful tips for applying to jobs in 2019.