What is the NAPLEX Exam? And How to Prepare

prepare for the naplex

After graduating from your pharmacy program, you are just several steps away from earning your license! The next step is to sit for and pass the NAPLEX Exam. What is the NAPLEX, and how can you best prepare for this board exam?

What is the NAPLEX® Exam?

NAPLEX® stands for The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination® and is administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). It is taken by recent college of pharmacy graduates and is used by the boards of pharmacy to determine a candidate’s competency in general practice knowledge to practice as a pharmacist. Passing the NAPLEX exam is one of the pieces of the licensing process.

How is the NAPLEX scored and what is the minimum passing score?

NAPLEX exam results are reported as Pass or Fail. Previously, the NAPLEX was on a scaled score range of 0 to 150 and the minimum passing score was 75.

What happens if I fail the NAPLEX?

If you fail the NAPLEX, there is a 45-day waiting period after a failed attempt before you can retake the exam and a limit of 3 attempts per 12-month period. Therefore if you failed the NAPLEX 3 times in a 12-month period, you must wait another 12 months from the first attempt to retake it. In total, you are allowed a maximum of 5 attempts to pass the NAPLEX.

How many questions are on the NAPLEX?

The NAPLEX is a 6-hour exam made up of 225 questions. 25 of them are unscored pretest questions. In addition to the 6 hours, there are two optional 10-minute breaks, which will be prompted by the computer.

How much does the NAPLEX exam cost?

The cost of the NAPLEX exam is $575. Be sure to budget for the application fee of $100, which is a separate cost from the exam fee.

Is the NAPLEX hard?

With a pass rate of approximately 82% in the last couple of years, the NAPLEX is notoriously difficult. Do not fret as long as you put in the work to be well-prepared come test day.

How to Prepare For the NAPLEX

Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure you’re successful on exam day.

Know the NAPLEX Blueprint

Prior to creating a study plan, it is important to understand the NAPLEX Competency Statements, also known as the exam blueprint. The NAPLEX blueprint will provide a percentage of questions related to each topic on the exam. Thus, one might consider increasing study time on topics with more questions.

Additionally, the exam outline will typically inform the student of the exam structure and types of questions. Therefore, the student will be prepared for each question structure that will be on the exam such as multiple-choice, select all that apply, drag and drop, fill in the blank. 

Study the Candidate Application Bulletin

The NAPLEX Candidate Application Bulletin will provide important information about the exam such as the exam format and what you need to bring for test day. Be sure to read this thoroughly so there are no surprises come test day.

Create A Personalized Study Plan

Around six months prior to graduation, it is wise to start creating a study plan. 

Determine a set number of hours per day for studying. Start early and increase your study time as the test date nears. Plan breaks and time with friends and family. You in no way need to follow this plan exactly! You can (and should) tweak it as you go along, but we recommend thinking this out a little before you start studying. 

Do Practice Questions

Taking practice questions is extremely effective when studying for an exam. BoardVitals offers NAPLEX practice questions for test-takers to create custom practice quizzes and advanced analytics to monitor their progress. As you go through the practice questions, it’s important to study the answers of incorrect responses in order to select the appropriate response when the question arises again. Board review exams can be intimidating, so the more practice the better. 

Here are some resources with free NAPLEX practice questions:

Consider Your Testing Environment

You will most likely take your exam at a facility where you are unable to listen to music and have to carefully time your restroom and snack breaks. You can simulate this environment toward the end of your studying by creating a full mock exam with no music, no snacks, and the appropriate allotted time for the exam. Get your brain and body used to what it will be like on your actual test day. Practice won’t guarantee perfection, but it does ease testing day nerves!

Day Before the Exam

Take it easy. Relax, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and try not to over-caffeinate. Sleep will be imperative the night before the exam, and you should try not to do anything to hinder or alter your sleep cycle. Additionally, pack a bag, and lay out everything you need for the following day such as two forms of ID that contains your signature and matches your name as it appears on your ATT letter. 

By taking the right steps to prepare for the NAPLEX, you will be ready on test day to perform your best.