Are the licensing tests for pharmacy difficult or just extremely long?
Depending on your state of licensure, you will need to take 2 or 3 exams to become a licensed pharmacist. All states have at least two:
NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) - This is the national licensing exam that tests your knowledge of various pharmacy topics. The exam consists of 250 questions, divided between two areas:
- 'Ensuring Safe and Effective Pharmacotherapy and Health Outcomes' - 67% of exam questions
- 'Safe and Accurate Preparation, Compounding, Dispensing, and Administration of Medications and Provision of Health Care Products' – 33% of exam questions
MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination) - This is a state specific pharmacy law exam. The exam consists of 120 questions, divided among three areas:
- 'Pharmacy Practice' – 83% of exam questions
- 'Licensure, Registration, Certification, and Operational Requirements' – 15% of exam questions
- 'General Regulatory Processes' – 2% of exam questions
Some states (e.g. New York) require a practical compounding exam where you are required to compound various pharmaceutical formulations based on prescription orders. Typically you need to compound two different oral formulations (e.g. capsules, syrups) and one IV solution, although this can vary depending on the exam. Practical exams can be challenging and particularly stressful.
In terms of how difficult these exams are, that is a relative term and will vary depending on the test taker. What we can look at to get an idea of overall difficulty are pass rates.
NAPLEX PASS RATES
The NAPLEX exam has historically had very high pass rates, although has decreased slightly in the past few years. Below are the pass rates from ACPE accredited schools from 2014-2016:
- 2014 Pass Rate: 94.48%
- 2015 Pass Rate: 91.35%
- 2016 Pass Rate: 85.01%
You can see a pharmacy school by school breakdown via this link: NAPLEX PASS RATES BY SCHOOL. The pass rates for the NAPLEX exam are on par with other licensing exams in the medication profession. You are allowed to take the exam up to 5 times.
MPJE PASS RATES
The MPJE exam has the reputation for being the more difficult licensing exam. The pass rates however, are very similar to the NAPLEX exam. Below are the pass rates from ACPE accredited schools from 2014-2016:
- 2014 Pass Rate: 94.70%
- 2015 Pass Rate: 93.73%
- 2016 Pass Rate: 83.48%
You can see a pharmacy school by school breakdown via this link: MPJE PASS RATES BY SCHOOL. The pass rates for the MPJE are on par with other licensing exams in the medication profession. You are allowed to take the exam up to 5 times.