NAPLEX Preparation: Tips for the Most Important Exam of Your Career

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Pharmacy Careers, Pharmacy Careers Winter 2019, Volume 13, Issue 1

Before you start preparing for NAPLEX, familiarize yourself with what to expect for the exam.

For many pharmacy students, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is the final challenge standing between them and their careers as pharmacists. Although it may seem overwhelming to review all the material you have learned over the past few years at pharmacy school for 1 exam, it is important to focus on key learning points. Creating an effective studying plan early on to reinforce your strong subjects and brushing up on your weaker ones can make the difference in overcoming this last obstacle.

Before you start preparing for NAPLEX, familiarize yourself with what to expect for the exam. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website provides information on what you can and cannot bring to the exam and details the structure of the exam itself. NAPLEX contains 250 questions; 200 are operational and count toward your score, whereas the remaining 50 are being evaluated as potential operations questions for future exams.

You will have 6 hours to complete the exam, so it is important to track how much time you have left as you are working. If you do not finish the exam, any unanswered questions will be scored as incorrect. Therefore, try not to waste too much time on 1 question if you are stumped, and make sure to provide an answer for all questions. However, do not rush either, because once you submit your answer, you will not be able to go back to it.

The scoring for the exam is on a scale of 0 to 150, with 75 being passing. It is based on a complex “item response theory” model that evaluates patterns of correct and incorrect answers and weighs scoring based on the content of the question. This scoring model makes it very difficult to predict your score, but you should still try your best. Completing practice exams, such as thePre-NAPLEX, can be a useful way to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that may appear on the exam.

There are various types of questions, including multiple choice, multiple response, fill in the blank, constructed response, ordered response, and hot spot. Calculation questions can be free throws, so be sure to specifically practice statistical questions and know your formulas. Another recommendation is to think through casebased questions that may provide you with unnecessary details as distractions.

Ensure you have an ample amount of time to review material at a speed at which you are comfortable. This is a comprehensive exam, and cramming all the material in over a few days would be tough for anyone. Consider identifying which therapeutic areas you feel are your weakest and tailoring your studying as appropriate. As with any exam, make sure you get plenty of sleep and eat nutritious meals; avoid too much caffeine and sugar.

These tips will also be invaluable when studying for your state’s Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination. This exam is shorter than NAPLEX, but it is still just as important for you to have a grasp of both federal and state laws. The exam questions may not specify which laws you should consider when answering the question, but it is important to always remember that the more stringent law prevails.

You might walk out of either exam feeling as if you failed; and many of your peers will likely share this sentiment. Don’t let this discourage you. As long as you properly prepare for the exam, you will likely do better than you think.

Remember, getting through pharmacy school was the tough part. If you’ve made it this far, you can conquer this exam!

DIPTI DESAI, PHARMD, is the senior director of scientific affairs for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™ and a graduate of the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.LIZA PATEL, PHARMD, is a director of scientific affairs for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™ and a graduate of the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.OLIVER MILLS, PHARMD, is a manager of education for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™ and a graduate of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy.