Pharmacy technicians serve in hospitals and drug stores, assisting pharmacists with filling prescriptions. Some states require a training program and certification testing. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board administers the pharmacy tech certification exam, with questions ranging from medication preparation to record-keeping to health and safety laws. Of the 90 multiple-choice questions, 10 are actually a pre-test that don't count toward the final grade. If you know what to study on the exam, you'll boost your chances of achieving certification.
How to Assist the Pharmacist
The largest portion of the pharmacy tech exam comprises questions related to assisting the pharmacist by providing service to customers. This accounts for 66 percent of the test. Study how to receive prescriptions from patients, as well as from physicians electronically, then how to process the prescriptions. Questions will also be related to federal guidelines for obtaining medical information on a patient, plus methods for collecting and reporting data. Steps in compounding medication, determining prescription charges and communicating with third parties are also covered in this section of the test.
Control systems in place to maintain medication and keep track of inventory are the topics of 22 percent of the pharmacy tech exam. Study guidelines for placing both routine and emergency pharmaceutical orders, methods for storing medications and medical supplies, handling rules for hazardous substances and proper methods for disposing of medications and supplies. Theft reduction measures are also on this portion of the exam, along with record-keeping requirements for controlled substances. Be familiar with quality assurance testing steps and methods for repackaging medicines to be dispensed to patients.
Administration and Management
The final 12 percent of the pharmacy tech exam consists of questions related to the role of a technician in the administration and management of a pharmacy practice. Study for this portion of the test by mastering written and verbal communication skills used in a pharmacy. The ability to maintain patient records, monitor pharmacy productivity and comply with health and safety regulations is also examined on this section of the pharmacy tech exam. Knowledge of training and evaluating staff, accounting procedures in a pharmacy and methods for verifying insurance coverage is necessary to pass this section of the test.
An effective way to study for the pharmacy tech exam is to take practice tests. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board offers a series of four tests to help students know what to expect on the actual pharmacy tech exam. Each exam costs a $29 fee and is allotted a one-hour time period. The practice tests are available online on the PTCB website.
Kelli Peacock Dunn has been a news editor and photographer since 1998, working at a weekly newspaper in Northwest Florida. Her articles have also appeared in "Panama City Living" magazine and "The Lookout."