Top 5 PTCB Study Guides

While not required in all states the PTCB exam - that's an acronym for Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam - is the definitive basic certification for those who want to work as a pharmacy technician. If you are among those people, you may already know that there is no requirement you attend a formal school to take the PTCB, but you may also know that you will need some great resources to learn the basics from if you decide to 'go it alone'. 

Because pharmacy tech is a career that is growing in demand at the moment, more and more people are considering entering the field. This means that there are an increasing number of study guides available to help you prepare for, and pass, the PTCB. But which of them is the best? That's what we will look at now. 

Our Reviews Of The Best PTCB Study Guides

To create our list of the Top 5 PTCB study guides for 2020 we considered a number of factors. These included the accuracy of the material, the ease of reading, the value for money and the opinions of those who have made use of the guides themselves as a part of their journey to becoming a certified pharmacy tech and passing the PTCB.

So, without further ado, let's dive in:


Mosby's Review for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination, 3e

Why You'll Love This: If you are an absolute beginner and you need a very comprehensive study guide, this is it.

PTCE Study Guide Review

The Mosby's Review is one of the most complete resources for the would be certified pharmacy tech available right now. It spans a whopping 384 pages and also offers access to a number of additional resources online.

Contained within the guide you'll find all the technical information you need to know, along with 17 practice tests that offer 100 challenging questions to help you understand where your level of knowledge is currently and where you'll need to study and improve. There are even electronic flash cards available online that will be a big help to those with a more visual learning style.

Those who have used the guide also appreciated the tips on general study that are included as well as the advice for test taking offered by those who have studied for - and passed - the PTCB already. 


  • One of the most complete study guides available and an excellent choice for those who are totally new to the field


  • One of the most expensive choices on the list and electronic access incurs an additional charge


Ascencia PTCE Study Guide

Why You'll Love This: In addition to being a comprehensive resource for your PTCE test, this guide offers real world tips that will help you as you embark on your new career.

Ascencia PTCB Study Guide Review

This 400 page study guide covers all the basic material and concepts you'll need to master in order to pass the PTCE exam. It is authored by working pharmacists and so not only is it completely up to date but it also offers anecdotes and insights into just what working as a pharmacy tech is really like.

Those who have used this guide to prep for their PTCE like the fact that all the basics are covered in a clear, concise way, but some do think that it may offer just a little too much technical information that may confuse some students. 


  • Comprehensive basic study guide that also offers real life insights into working as a pharmacy tech


  • May be a little too technical for some people's tastes


Barron's PTCE/Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, 1st Edition

Why You'll Love This: It's a comprehensive, but affordable study guide offered by a brand that most Americans are already familiar with.

Barrons PTCB Study Guide

We should start off by pointing out that this guide is best for someone who has already completed some research into the field of pharmacy technician as it does assume that you will understand some terminologies without too much explanation.

That having been said, the Barron's PTCE guide is considered by many who have made use of it to be the most comprehensive resource available at a reasonable price. It comes with a pre-test section, so you can determine what your weaknesses are right from the start, and hundreds of practice questions, the answers to which are explained in lots of detail so that if you get something wrong, you will understand why. You also have access to three complete PTCE practice tests, two contained in the book and one available online. 


  • Very comprehensive, affordable guide that offers lots of helpful questions and answers as well as those all important practice tests.


  • Not the right choice for those not yet familiar with the basics of pharmacy tech terminology.


PTCB Exam Simplified, 3rd Edition Review

Why You'll Love This: If you need a simplified explanation of some of the more complex terms used on the PTCB this is a great choice.

Kindle PTCB Exam Study Guide Review

For some, one look at some terms used on the PTCB sends their heads spinning. This guide was created to take that complex language and break it down into simplified terms that are easier to understand and comprehend.

To do this the book makes use of lots of graphs and charts, as well as pictograms and infographics. People who have found this most useful are those who describe themselves as visual learners who found that the layout of the book matched their learning style perfectly. They also found it to be an excellent all-round preparation for dealing with the stress of test day as it offers excellent advice on that subject as well. 


  • Easy to understand, easy to read and one of the most affordable choices on our list


  • Some students said that the book may not cover everything you will encounter on the PTCB test


Secrets of the PTCB Exam Study Guide

Why You'll Love This: Offers a simplified look at the basics while also offering invaluable test-taking tips.

Prep Guide for the pass their Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Examination

This is another guide that sets out to simplify the more complex concepts on the PTCB exam and break them down in order for them to be easier to digest and memorize. It makes use of plain language and also offers a number of practice tests throughout the book you can use to gauge your current levels of knowledge.

Most of those who purchased this guide and found it useful were especially impressed by the practice tests and found them very valuable, as was the case for the testing tips. Most, however, also used this guide as a supplement to one of the more complex options as it does miss some things out. 


  • Easy to understand, clearly written and offers great test taking tips


  • May not be comprehensive enough for beginners to learn everything they need to

PTCB Study Guide FAQ

How much schooling to be a pharmacy technician

The PTCB study guides we chose for our list are some of the most popular, best reviewed and comprehensive available but they are not your only choices.

Any would-be pharmacy tech wants to do the best they can on the PTCB and, often more importantly, give themselves the best shot at passing the exam the first time. While a student can sit the test several times, no one wants to incur the extra time and expense that entails if it can be avoided, which is where the best study guides for PTCB are most helpful.

How do you figure out just what to look for when shopping for these guides? The answers to these frequently asked questions should help you:

What should a good PTCB study guide cover?

To be most useful, a PTCB study guide should touch on all the areas that will be covered in the test. While the exam changes from year to year in terms of the actual questions posed the same basic subject matter is covered, and includes all the following:


According to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board approximately 9% of the questions posed on the PTCB relate to pharmacy billing issues and best practices. You will need to be well versed in insurance terminology and just how people can pay for prescription drugs in order to answer these questions correctly.

Computer and Information Systems

The average pharmacy is increasingly computer driven. Some of the questions on the test will be posed to determine your level of computer literacy as it relates to the software commonly used in a pharmacy setting.

Managing Inventory

Approximately 9% of the questions on the PTCB relate to inventory management best practices. This means that the guide you chose to study with should cover the best practices for stocking medicines, how to determine that medicines are safe to dispense, how expired medications should be handled and more.

Rules and Regulation

There are a lot of rules and regulations that any pharmacy tech must adhere to, which is why questions about them make up 12% of the test. You will need to know about DEA regulations, what OSHA mandates for the handling of medications and be knowledgeable about any state specific laws.

Medication Safety

Another large portion of the questions poised on the PTCB test relate to the very important issue of medication safety. This includes both understanding how to instruct patients in the safe use of their prescriptions and how to handle medications safely yourself to prevent prescription errors.

Filling Processes

This is the largest portion of the exam, and accounts for approximately 18% of the questions. It covers dosage calculations, labelling best practices, product storage and how to appropriately and legally answer patient queries.


This is another large portion of the test, and the one that some candidates find the hardest. You will need to know common drug names, both brand names and their generic equivalent, how medications react with one another and what the common side effects and contraindications are. The best study guides will offer comprehensive material on these issues.

QA and Compounding

The remainder of the questions posed on the test will cover issues relating to the proper compounding and quality assurance measures a pharmacy tech needs to put into practice at all times. The best guides offer lots of practice questions in these areas so that you can become as familiar with them as possible.

Should I buy or rent my PTCB Guide?

Textbook rental has become very commonplace today and is offered as an alternative to purchase by most retailers, including Amazon. It can be a more affordable way to get the study guide, or guides, you need to help you pass the PTCB. As any candidate hopes to pass the test the first time, you hope will obviously be that you won't need the guide for too long, so renting may make sense.

The important thing is to 'do the math'. Sometimes there is very little difference between the rental cost and the purchase price and the fact is that all of the guides we have included on our list - and many others - offer information that will still be useful to you even after your have become a certified pharmacy tech, so you may benefit from purchasing them outright. 

I have an old edition PTCB guide. Is it OK to use that?

Most textbooks are updated every few years and it is a common complaint among students in any niche that the differences between the new and old editions are so minimal that it is not worth the extra cost to 'upgrade' to the latest version when an older edition can be found at a bargain price, or passed on by another student.

The difficulty is that when a PTCB guide is updated it is usually because rules and regulations have changed, or new drugs have become especially important. By making use of an old guide you may miss this new information, so our advice is to get the latest edition of any PTCB guide you are considering to help ensure that your knowledge is completely up to date. 

Should I buy a traditional PTCB guide textbook or an ebook?

The answer to this question will depend on the guide you choose and the way you personally study. Most of the books on our list do have a compatible eBook/Kindle version available as an alternative to a traditional paper book and they contain the same information, simply in a different format.

For some people the convenience of ebooks means that they can study wherever they happen to be. For example, if they have a 15 minute train ride to work - as many do - they could use that time to study if they have access to an ebook and a mobile device.

On the other hand a traditional textbook can be marked up and annotated more easily (as long as you own it, that's not a good idea with a rental) and you can make use of it without the need to charge anything! You should also make sure that there really is no difference between the ebook and standard versions, to make sure that you won't be missing out on any information. 

Is one PTCB guide enough?

If you look back at our review section, you'll notice that we do mention that sometimes you may need to buy more than one PTCB study guide. This can be true if you opt to begin with one of the simplified guises, so you can get a better grasp of the more complex concepts involved in the role of pharmacy tech before then moving on to more formal material that will better resemble the language and format you'll encounter on your real test.

Should I opt for 'extras' if they are offered?

Some PTCB guides offer additional materials - usually provided online - at an additional cost. Before making that extra purchase try to determine just what those extras are and whether they will be useful to you. For example, the electronic flashcards offered by some of the guides on our list may be fantastic tools for some people but go unused by others. It really is about matching the materials to your personal learning style.

If I purchase a PTCB guide will it have any resale value?

That's a tricky question. If you pass your test the first time, and resell the book quickly it may indeed have value to another student and they will probably be grateful for the discount. As we mentioned however having the latest information at hand is very important for those taking the PTCB exam, so if the book has become outdated it will not have much resale value at all.

Best PTCB Exam Study Guide - the takeaway

A good PTCB study guide can be a very important key to passing this crucial certification. We have pointed you to some excellent ones in this guide and there are even more out there. We hope you've found this guide useful and all that's left for us to do now is wish you luck on the PTCB!