What kind of testing is required when becoming a Pharmacist?

There are three tests required when your career goal is to be a pharmacist. After obtaining your online bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, or at least your required pre-requisite classes, then it is time to apply to pharmacy school.

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is specifically given to help identify which students are qualified to continue their education in the field of pharmacy. It scales the academic ability and your scientific knowledge to assure that you are ready to pursue pharmaceutical training. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) endorses the PCAT as the preferred entrance test into pharmacy college.

The test itself is a computer-based standardized test that is generally 3½ to 4 hours long plus administrative time for instructions. You will get a break about mid-way through testing. The test includes approximately 232 multiple choice questions and one writing topic.

There are five topics or sub-tests within the PCAT. They are as follows:

The Writing portion presents a topic focusing on a world problem such as science or social issues, cultural or political considerations or health matters in which you will be asked to propose a solution within an original essay.

The Biological section addresses questions regarding general biology, anatomy and physiology, as well as, microbiology.

The Chemical Processes portion pertains to general chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry.

Critical Reading covers passages to examine and then questions to test your ability in comprehension, analysis and evaluation.

The section on Quantitative Reasoning is a sub-test that consists of a plethora of independent subject matter, mostly presented in word/problem solving format. Such subjects may include basic math, algebra, probability and statistics, pre-calculus and calculus.

The minimum score to pass the PCAT varies depending on the pharmacy school in which you hope to attend.

After you have completed your online doctorate degree in pharmacy, you are now eligible to test for licensure to begin your career as a pharmacist. There are two tests that you will need to pass. They are the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). (Actually, there are just a few states that do not require the MPJE, so, check with the state in which you intend to practice for requirements.)

The NAPLEX is designed to test your pharmacy abilities and competency in your quest to become a pharmacist. This licensure is required by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The NAPLEX is a computer-generated exam consisting of approximately 250 questions with a total of six hours to complete. As of 2016, the exam fee is $575. The questions on this test are formatted as: select all that apply, sequencing, point and click and multiple choice; essay questions are not included. A tabulated score of 75 or higher is required for passing and licensure. If you fail, you may take the test again after at least 45 days.  Also, you may take the test five times without special authorization from regulators.

The MPJE, also known as the Pharmacy Law Test, is also required, in most states, by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. It tests your knowledge of legal aspects of the pharmacy practice particularly regarding drug distribution, as well as the legalities of licensure, certification and registration. With no essay or writing topics, the exam consists of 90 multiple choice questions to be completed within two hours. Due to each state’s regulations, if you intend to practice in more than one state, a test applicable to that specific state is required.

The three main areas of the MPJE testing involve 78% of questions regarding pharmacy practice, 17% related to licensure, registration, certification and operational requirements and 5% of the test involves regulatory structure and terms. A score of 75 is required to pass.

Make sure you spend ample time studying for these tests, for they can be challenging. Practice tests are available and are very helpful. Good luck! To help with you search if you are considering the online route, check out our Top Online Schools for PharmD programs!