After several requests for a new PTCB Test Review and multiple questions about what to study for the updated 2014 exam started coming into my inbox, I looked into the possibility of getting in to personally take it. I was actually very lucky to be able to. Normally a CPhT can only re-certify with Continuing Ed, even after certification expires. It turns out that procrastination pays off once in a while. Since my current position doesn't require CPhT certification, I'd let it expire last year and it had been long enough that I had to take the test. So, here's the details of my experience taking the new PTCB.
What's changed the most?
What's the same?
After filling out the application and paying on a Saturday evening, my authorization to schedule was in my email the following Tuesday. I logged on to Pearson-Vue and scheduled for a weekday quite easily. Even the next two Saturdays had slots available, which was surprising.
They ask you to arrive 30 minutes early, and I'd recommend doing so. Have your I.D. ready. They held on to my drivers license for the whole process. Then, they scanned both of my palms and took a mugshot. Without any wait, I was told to walk down the hall to the proctor. They went over the rules and informed me that several cameras (you can see them) and microphones were in the room recording everything. Lastly, I had to pull out my pocket liners and do a self pat down to show I didn't have any tricks up my sleeve. They gave me a calculator, dry erase pens and laminated paper and led me to the computer.
Taking the test:
There's about 5 minutes of pre-test information to go over, then you hit the start button. A little clock in the corner starts the countdown. You get 110 minutes, which cannot stop. There's nothing fancy or flashy about the new PTCE test, just questions that are anywhere from one to 5 sentences long and four choices to choose from. When you decide, just click the bubble in front of the corresponding answer, then the "next question" or "last question" button. Lastly, when you're done with the exam, the final screen lets you know if you passed. Of course, that's not until you've done the post-test survey.
Here's a screen-shot of what the new PTCE test format looks like. One thing I really noticed was that the questions were more evenly distributed to cover most subjects. With the old test, some people would say they got tons of math, while others would say they got little math, but lots of drug classification, top 200 drugs, or law questions, etc. In my estimation, this is what the changes on the new PTCB exam are all about. I think it's more fair across the board this way. There was some material that I was surprised to see, and maybe some of those were part of the 10 questions that don't count. For example, a question that asked about look alike / sound alike drug names listed on the Institute for Safe Medication Practices' list of confused drug names. I was stumped! There are literally hundreds of them on that list. So, I wonder if those 10 filler questions are to make you nervous, or for the PTCE to conduct studies. But, this brings up another observation I realized after taking the test. It seemed that there were less common sense questions, and all of the questions are more geared to challenge your intelligence. I can't disclose much more in this new PTCB test review, but hope that helps.
what to study for the new exam now? Well, just like you will, I swore to not disclose actual questions I saw on the new test. However, I didn't promise to not ask similar questions on the free practice exams. The practice tests were audited and are now all 100% relevant to the new PTCB exam. Many new questions have been added, and others have been tightened up to be more difficult.
Do I need to get new books?
Personally, I don't think so. But, in my opinion most of the books are not individually complete anyway. As I said above, the content hasn't really changed. They've just made the test a bit harder and it seems to cover subjects more equally. Diversify your books to at least 2-3, and look around the web for resources.
If you're doing self-study for the new certification test, it's recommended that you diversify your study materials with a few books. Of course, the newer they are the better. But, the books written for the old pharm tech test still cover most of the material that you'll need to know.
Q. I took the pharm tech test before the changes of the content. What are the good or best resources books to study NOW for the new test? Because in one of your comments, you said " were less common sense questions, and more that challenge the intelligence". I just want to know what to study now for the new PTCE exam.
A. Thanks for your question about my new test review. What I mostly meant was that the subjects and questions seem mostly the same. But, the difference is the difficulty of the questions. Furthermore, the old test seemed to have a few seriously easy ones, mixed with medium and hard questions. On the new one, it's more like there are mainly medium and hard ones, with a few ridiculously difficult ones (and zero easy ones).
So, I still recommend the same books I have on the bookstore page for now. But, I'm also in the process of looking for even newer materials to review.
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