It’s time to take your Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Examination. You could wing it, or you could cobble together some free resources from YouTube.
However, the test is quite expensive ($129 in 2021), and you’d like a better chance of passing than just prayer. If you aren’t sure where to look, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite study guides. They’ll give you an overview of the information, plus what to expect from the test itself. They can help you practice with exams that mimic the real thing, and some even have study tips.
To fully prepare for taking a pharmacy technician exam you will need books covering at least three topics: pharmacy procedures and practice, pharmacy math, and pharmacology (the study of medications). In addition, you will want to buy or make two sets of flashcards. One set with common brand name medications and their corresponding generic drug name. The other set of flashcards should be sig codes (medical abbreviations used on prescriptions and physician’s orders).
Instead of spending your time worrying and researching which resource is the best one for you, use that time to prepare for the test itself. Let’s take a look at the list.
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Our Favorite Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) Study Guides
The fourth edition of David A. Heckman’s study guide is a blueprint based guide with expertise and counsel. It’s intended to give you practical drills in a format that makes information easy to digest and remember, not temporarily memorize.
It has tables, charts, and illustrations to break up long boring texts. Visual aids help the mind retain information, and this study guide is full of them. It also includes the top 250 prescription drugs and the top 45 over the counter drugs. There’s even information on the top 30 herbal supplements so that you have a well-rounded knowledge base of what your customers are likely taking.
You also get information about the most current pharmacy law. The author is an expert on the topic and provides a broad base of knowledge to keep you up to date.
He gives you a step by step guide to interpreting prescriptions, plus an easy way to solve any pharmacy math problem. All the content is based on up to date certification blueprints. Once you’ve completed the study guide, you can take the full-length practice exam in the back and check your answers.
In the math section, there are practice problems built alongside the tutorials. It’s split section by section for each knowledge area, so it’s simple to navigate. One thing we really liked is the broader margins and good use of space. You can take a lot of notes directly inside the book itself and not worry about losing pieces of paper.
If you’re looking for a very streamlined study guide, this one does offer you a lot of extra information that may or may not be on the certification. For some people, this is good because it gives you a context to remember information that will be on the test.
For example, there’s a lot of extra information about the drugs. That may help you remember each drug’s method of action and essential functions, but it might also cloud your mind with unnecessary detail. Consider carefully what you study and decide accordingly.
Another downside is it frequently uses vocabulary terms that it doesn’t go over until later sections of the test. If you plan to go through the guide a second or third time, this might not be as much of an issue, but if you have a limited window, the technical jargon could throw you off.
- lots of charts, illustrations, and blueprints
- excellent overview of pharmacy law written by an expert
- math problems embedded within the tutorials
- space for notes
- full-length practice test
- some information on the practice test isn’t covered in the book (NPI numbers and drug pricing)
- technical jargon that isn’t explained until later
PTCB Exam Study Guide: Test Prep Book & Practice Test Questions for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE)
Test Prep’s certification study guide is a complete guide to the newest version of the test. It begins with a quick overview of the exam and its requirements. It includes information for technicians and an overview of current pharmacy law.
It moves on to sterile and non-sterile compounding, medical safety, and quality assurance. Many of the sections include management questions including billing and reimbursement, information systems, and order filling.
Throughout the study guide, there is practice to help you test your knowledge and help you remember and comprehend. Studying with periodic test questions is good for retention and deep comprehension.
There are detailed explanations following each test question to help you figure out why you missed the question and help you avoid making the same mistake in the future. One thing we like about this study guide is that it offers you test-taking strategies for this certification and not just test questions themselves. It’s a good idea if it’s been a while since you’ve taken any standardized exam or you have trouble with exams.
It’s intended more as an overview rather than a teaching tool. If you’ve already studied and you’re looking for a supplemental text with a few questions to change things up. It’s not as thorough as we’d like it to be and we wish there were more questions for more practice.
We love the detailed explanations after each question. It helps us understand why we made mistakes, not just that we made one. If we aren’t going to get a tutor to help us study, the materials can serve a similar purpose by giving guidance about our mistakes.
It does cover all the sections of the test pretty evenly. It doesn’t go too much into depth for each part, so if you need more hand-holding with your test prep materials, this might not be the best choice for you. However, if you only want something to change up your study materials and offer a few practice questions for each section, this is a suitable choice.
- includes a well-rounded overview of all the appropriate sections
- detailed explanations for the questions
- excellent supplemental study materials
- No practice test
- information could be more in-depth
Secrets of the PTCB Exam Study Guide: PTCB Test Review for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Examination
The Mometrix Secrets of the PTCB Exam is an easy to read highlight of everything you’ll need to know for the certification exam. It highlights the key areas of the test to give you a better understanding of what to expect.
It provides information about the test as a whole and then breaks down each section into key pieces.
The overview section includes a thorough review and a breakdown of different aspects of the exam. There’s also a guide to conversions and an analysis of hospital settings. It includes in-depth reviews of safety precautions and analysis of pharmacy stock.
It also gives you information about both brand name and generic medications, plus detailed questions with answer explanations.
The exam section is a full overview of everything that’s on the current certification exam. It not only has a full test, but it also has a study manual to help reduce your anxiety and give you better strategies to ace the exam. It’s concise but thorough and focuses a lot on how to take the test.
One thing we love is that exact concept. Helping us get inside the questions and milk the information for what we aren’t sure about. It’s excellent for people who get anxious about tests and tend to overthink questions (and get them wrong).
However, it might not be the most in-depth set of materials for those who are looking for only pharmacy information. If you are particularly confident in test taking and want a more straightforward study guide, this might not be the right one for you.
Decide if your worry is most centered around what is on the test or how to take the test. If it’s the former, a book more focused on in-depth information might be a better choice. However, if the test itself is your weakness, this is an excellent overview plus test-taking strategies.
- fleshed out test-taking strategies
- information for getting inside the exam
- good for reducing test anxiety
- the actual review section could be more detailed
Mosby’s review is an overview with outlines, test-taking tips, and a set of electronic flashcards. The author is a noted pharmacy tech educator. It has 17 different tests with 100 questions both in the book and in the online component. It’s based on the current model of the certification test.
The practice tests have balanced content with each section mimicking the real exam. It’s a more realistic test-taking experience. There are seven practice tests in the book. Once you finish those, you can move on to the other ten electronic tests, some of which are timed just like the real thing.
They can help you identify areas of weakness and how to fix them. It includes instant feedback and remediation. There’s a convenient outline section for a quick review of the information you’ll see on the exam.
The online component also has access to 700 electronic flashcards to help you review facts. There are 200 most prescribed pharmaceuticals, the top 50 herbals, plus common abbreviations and sound-alikes.
This book is not for newbies. If you’re getting into pharmacy tech and looking for study materials, this one isn’t the right one for you. If you’re at the end of your education and need practice with the exam itself so that you’re prepared, it’s a suitable option.
It has a good overview of anatomy, but the section about policy, including hospital and inventory, could be fleshed out a little more.
If you’ve been working as a pharmacy tech for a while and need to obtain your official license, this book is an excellent way to brush up on the certification and give you an overview of relevant information. If you are new and don’t have much background in the science of it, the chapters can be a little bit confusing. However, there’s plenty of useful information if you have enough knowledge base to overcome a few inconsistencies in the materials.
- lots of full practice exams
- online tests offer immediate feedback
- timed tests
- electronic flashcards
- materials are confusing for a beginner
PTCB Exam Study Guide 2020-2021: Test Prep Book with Practice Questions for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Examination
Ascensia Prep’s certification guide is a full-scale review book with dedicated materials on each section of the exam. It offers real-world examples, test strategies, and sets of work through practice problems.
The book is divided into subject area sections, pharmacology, assisting the pharmacist, pharmacy law and Ethics, administration of the pharmacy and management, compounding pharmaceuticals, and pharmacy math.
Each section has tables and charts to illustrate information, and relevant vocabulary is interspersed throughout each chapter. It’s arranged in a way to make information more digestible and more comfortable to remember.
It comes with two full practice tests so that you can assess your knowledge. We recommend taking one before you study and one after.
It doesn’t come with a CD, and there are no flashcards. It’s a more detailed review than some of the books on the list, but it still spends a lot of time on the anatomy section and very little time on drug classes.
One thing we loved was the handy abbreviations table. The list includes abbreviations followed by the meaning and the category. There are a lot of abbreviations in the field, and having the information all in one place is a valuable addition.
We wish there were more practice tests, but overall it’s a solid foundation for both newbies and those getting ready to take the test.
- good all purpose study guide
- includes a lot of information in each section
- abbreviations table
- relevant vocabulary is listed in chapters
- no CD
What’s your favorite book? Let us know in the comments below.