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Pharmacy Math to Study
for the PTCB

Pharmacy Technicians use math every day in their jobs to interpret orders, dispense medication, bill insurance companies and perform compounding calculations. Since the PTCB exam is based on everyday tasks performed by technicians, knowing how to do these calculations is vital to your success.

At minimum, you can expect to see:

  • Basic Math
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Roman numerals
  • Percentages
  • Systems of measurements
  • Ratios and proportions
  • Basic algebra

More detailed breakdown

When filling prescriptions and tracking inventory, one employs addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Depending on the pharmacy, some technicians may use a POS register to tender cash payments and make change for customers who use cash. Other operations also require basic knowledge of Business Math.

Many dosage calculations use amounts other than whole numbers. Technicians may find themselves working with these amounts to fill prescriptions and complete pharmaceutical calculations, such as dosage conversions, IV admixtures and administration of drug dose over time; therefore, one must be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions and decimals. You must be able to understand decimals and place values, And, converting fractions to decimals and decimals into fractions is not uncommon.

Roman numerals are still used by some physicians in dosage computations. The Pharmacy Technician must be able to interpret these computations correctly.

Pharmacy Technicians will encounter different systems of measurement, such as the metric system, the avoirdupois system, the apothecary system, and household measurements. They must be able to identify and understand units from each system and be able to convert amounts from one system to the next. An example of this is converting temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

When performing a pharmaceutical calculation, pharmacy technicians often must solve for an unknown quantity. They use basic algebra to do this. Most commonly, the algebra is combined with proportions and percentages in order to calculate a new amount.

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