Best Study Guides to Prepare for the ExCPT Exam

A pharmacy technician assists pharmacists in dispensing and preparing prescription medication in pharmacies and hospitals. Their duties include counting and measuring amounts of medication to fill prescriptions, as well as compound or mix medications. Pharmacy technicians receive training through on-the-job work experience or by completing a relevant postsecondary education program. In many states, pharmacy technicians must be licensed and certified to legally work. One the certifying exams available to pharmacy technicians is the ExCPT Pharmacy Exam .

About the ExCPT Exam

The ExCPT exam evaluates a technician’s knowledge and skills related to performing tasks related to their position. Successfully passing the ExCPT Pharmacy Exam is required in order to complete the Pharmacy Technician Certification Program, which is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The exam is overseen by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, which is part of the National HeathCareer Association (NHA). Once certified, a pharmacy technician is granted the title of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).

Completing the ExCPT exam and becoming certified allows individuals to perform work delegated by licensed pharmacists. Among the tasks you can complete as a certified pharmacy technician are receiving written prescription requests, process physicians’ orders by phone, mixing or compounding medications, establishing and maintaining patient profiles, preparing insurance claim forms, managing inventory, and retrieving, counting, pouring, weighing and measuring medications.

Certification does not allow a technician to answer questions requiring clinical knowledge, such as prescription and health related questions. These types of questions can only be addressed by a licensed pharmacist. In addition to greater responsibilities, certification also increases employability and progression in the field.

ExCPT Requirements and Fees

Candidates for the ExCPT exam must be at least 18 years of age to complete the exam. They must also hold a high school diploma or GED. Completion of a formal training or education program is not required. The ExCPT Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam costs $105, as of 2014.

Types of ExCPT Exam Questions

Practice Tests

The ExCPT exam includes 110 multiple choice questions with four possible answers. Of the 110 questions, 100 are scored and 10 are pretested for possible use on future exams. Pretested questions are not graded. The exam is two hours in duration.

The exam focuses primarily on the dispensing questions, with approximately 52% of the questions within this general area. Additional questions are included related to regulation and technician duties (approximately 25% of the questions) and drugs and drug products (approximately 23% of the questions). Approximately 30% of the exam features critical thinking questions that require interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, and explanation to form a judgement relating to a problem or specific situation.
Other questions test foundational knowledge, such as identification, recollection, and classification of specific information.

Questions related to regulations and technician duties test knowledge related to functions a technician can and can not perform, the role of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, pharmacy security and inventory control, stocking medications, and identifying expired products. Questions are test knowledge related to controlled substances and laws and regulations, such as laws related to privacy, government agencies, packaging, and labeling.

The section of the exam relating to drugs and drug therapy tests knowledge related to drug classification and frequently prescribed medications. Questions related to prescription information, calculations, preparing and dispensing prescriptions, sterile products, unit dose, and repackaging are included in the section of the exam related to the dispensing process. Examples of questions include calculating dosages and administration rates for IVs, types of sterile products, procedures for repackaging medications, avoiding errors and systems for checking prescriptions, refill requirements, and labeling prescriptions properly.

Preparing for the ExCPT Exam

Completing a pharmacy technician training program is not required to sit the ExCPT exam; however, some state boards of pharmacy or employers may require candidates to complete a training program.

Candidates can complete practice exams and review study guides from the NHA and ATI Allied Health certification programs, which can be found online ( and Familiarizing yourself with manuals and texts related to the pharmacy technician professional is also recommended when preparing for the exam.

Recommended Study Guides for the ExCPT Exam

  • American Pharmacists Association, The Pharmacy Technician Workbook and Certification Review, 6e 
  • Lile JM, Miller DE and Rybicki AL, Pharmacy Certified Technician Training Manual, Tenth Edition, 
  • Posey LM, APhA’s Complete Review for the Pharmacy Technician, 4e 
  • Mizner JJ, Mosby’s Pharmacy Technician Exam Review (Mosbys Review for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination) 4th Edition

Scheduling the ExCPT Exam

Tests are offered at more than 500 PSI/LaserGrade Test Centers across the United States. Exams can be scheduled 24 to 48 hours before the test date and are offered throughout the year. More information about the ExCPT exam can be found from the National HealthCareer Association (NHA).

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