Facts about the Exam!

To perform well at the NAPLEX exam, you need to know what you’re up against.

Failure to prepare is the tried and tested way to prepare for failure. Know the fundamental facts about the exam; develop a strategy that works and stick to it. Never let doubt and ambiguity cloud your focus; two factors that lead to stress and underperformance. You know far more than you think you do.

  • 6 hours to complete exam
  • Two 10-minute breaks (optional)
  • 250 questions
  • Test is not adaptive; questions must be answered in order
  • Fifty of the questions do not impact your score
  • Once you answer a question, you cannot return to it

How Your Score is Calculated

There are 250 questions on the exam, but not all questions are counted as part of your final score.

That’s because 50 of those questions have been pre-set not to be included in your overall score. Candidates are nonetheless recommended to answer each question as if it is included; it’s not possible to know which questions are counted and which have no value.

However, the final score is not calculated as the “total number of correct answers”. Rather, the score is assembled “by scale”.

In other words, the score is calculated as a product of the number of questions you have answers correctly combined with the degree of difficulty assigned to that question. Clearly, then, the more difficult questions you answer, the better - they are assigned more weight than simpler questions.

What score do I need to pass?

To pass the NAPLEX exam, you need to achieve a scaled result of at least 75.
In past exams, candidates were required to answer a minimum number of questions. This rule has since been abandoned; it doesn’t matter how many questions you answer because unanswered questions are considered wrong answers. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the candidate to answer all questions, even if you do not know the answer.

Passing the NAPLEX exam is difficult. A shallow, rounded knowledge of pharmacy is not enough. You need to develop an understanding of pharmacy that allows you to safely work in a real-life, clinical environment.

Registering for the NAPLEX Exam

Don’t register too early! Give yourself enough time to
strategise and prepare for the NAPLEX exam.
There is no rush. Better to be well-prepared than
hope to rush and wing the exam!

Registering for the NAPLEX exam is easy.

Each state has their own pharmacy board. You must contact the pharmacy board of your state and inform them that you wish to take the NAPLEX test. They will expect paperwork from you to determine eligibility. Once your eligibility has been confirmed, you will be contacted and informed whether you are authorized to take the exam.

If your authorization is successful, you will be given an authorization number, a date upon which that number expires, and a selection of available dates for you to take the exam.

With the date confirmed, you can now proceed to prepare for the NAPLEX exam.

The NAPLEX exam does not come cheap. Getting the date right matters! As of 2019, the cost of sitting the NAPLEX test sits at $575.

Knowing when to take the test can make all the difference.

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How to Prepare for the NAPLEX Test

Effective NAPLEX test prep is about knowing the detail. There’s no two ways about it. That said, not everyone with the same level of knowledge scores the same. That’s because some candidates strategize for the exam in advance, whereas others take a more nonchalant approach. For instance, candidates who are consciously aware of the time-limits imposed are more likely to think through each question much more effectively. Those same candidates have prepped their method. They roughly know how much time to spend on each question. They know when to pass, when to guesstimate and when to move onto the next question. They retain composure.

Knowing the knowledge of the exam is the first step. Strategizing for the NAPLEX exam is the second part. But the third, and often most-overlooked element, is the need to apply that knowledge to real-life, clinical situations. Ultimately, that’s what separates your pharmacy degree from the NAPLEX exam you now wish to take. It’s about thinking outside-the-box, about choosing the ‘most correct’ answer, and it’s about thinking critically, with evidence to hand, about what works best for the patient and their individual circumstances.

In summary, it’s about being professional.

What to do Before the NAPLEX Exam

Stick to what you know

You’ve been preparing for the NAPLEX exam for weeks now, maybe months.
Don’t try and cram new knowledge; it just won’t work. The NAPLEX exam is not something you can ‘wing’; it’s something that has been in the making of
your career for many years now. It isn’t going to be easy. Adding a few new
topics here and there isn’t going to make the difference. You’ve either done enough
or you haven’t. Stick to what you know, master it, and put it on display on the day
of your exam!

Get your body in order

Performing to the best of your ability isn’t the result of what you know. Often, it’s about how you prove that knowledge on the day of the exam. Physiological factors always play a role. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a high-school exam or a test of your competency as a professional pharmacist, you must get your body in order. Sleep well, relax more, avoid napping during the day, de-stress - whatever you need to do to reduce stress and maximize your exam performance. Optimal recall occurs when you’ve slept most effectively. Don’t lose sight of these physiological factors in the week leading up to your exam.

Schedule your NAPLEX test prep

Know when to study and when to stop. It’s crucial that you think about the week leading up to your NAPLEX exam. As we’ve already talked about, try to avoid packing your study with new topics. It won’t work. Instead, prepare your NAPLEX test prep by scheduling what topics to study at what times. This is particularly important in the days leading up to the exam. By organizing your study, you become the master of what you know, not the slave of what you do not. At the very least, them, the exam result reflects your actual competency level.

Practice, practice, practice

And then there’s practice. Practice, practice and - yes, you’ve guessed it - lots and lots of practice. You can’t replace practice. Practice reinforces what you know but, perhaps more importantly, it nakedly reveals what you don’t know. In the end, that’s what matters. You already know what you know. That detail will show on the day of your exam. What matters know is to harvest the topics you are most weak on; to adapt, improve and transform those weaker topics into new and exciting areas of strength. That’s where true progress is, and it’s where you should target.

Only 24-hours between you and the NAPLEX exam

The NAPLEX test is close. You’re both nervous and excited at the same time; afraid of scoring poorly, too poor to pass the exam but, at the same time, excited to make it to the final hurdle. There’s not much more you can do. You’ve spent the weeks and months preparing for the NAPLEX test. If you aren’t prepared by now, there’s nothing more you can do. It’s that simple. Rather than getting yourself into a flurry, take some time to relax. Wake up at the usual time, go for a walk and prepare yourself mentally for what it to come.

Know where you need to go and when. Prepare in advance in case things go wrong. The last thing you need is for your current means of transportation to go amiss. It happens. Know when you plan to sleep. Never sleep earlier than you need to, it only serves to disrupt your sleep. Think about what your overall strategy is going to be and how to intend on implementing it. Keep time in mind and know when to move onto the next question. Balance exam strategy and relaxation; an equilibrium that keeps you sane, focussed and determined.

It’s Exam Day. What You Need to Do!

Try not to overthink the NAPLEX exam. Remember, even if the worst were to pass and you were to fail the exam, there are many more opportunities to pass the exam in the months ahead. It’s not the end of the world. Think of the exam as an opportunity to test your knowledge of pharmacy and its applications in the real-life, clinical setting. You would agree that nobody should be allowed to practice pharmacy, including you, if you were to fail. Always consider the realities of the exam and not become too preoccupied by getting every answer correct.

Let’s be honest, you won’t get every question correct.

Nor will you know when you guess a question correct. Even worse, nor will you know whether you’ve answered a question correct even if you believe you have answered it correctly. Again, don’t overthink the exam. Take each question at a leisurely pace, but commensurate with the timing and demands of the exam.

Guess, but don’t blindly guess. Take advantage of breaks. That means stretching, re-motivating your efforts and, if necessary, using the lavatory. Avoid changing answers, unless you absolutely know that answer to be correct. Statistics show that changing answers, when you don’t know the answer to the question, reduces the likelihood of selecting the correct answer.

Eat well on the day of your exam. Fruit, such as banana, offers more energy over the long-term - reducing risk of glucose fatigue. Don’t rush, nor take your time, during the exam. Know when to move on and know when to guesstimate. Don’t spend more time than you need to on one question. That strategy only serves to waste time on questions you do know the answer to, but now find yourself rushed. That’s exactly what you want to avoid. Time management is essential.

By adopting these simple, but effective steps - you can more effectively manage exam day. Exam day is not about ‘hoping to pass’; rather, it’s about scoring the best you can with the knowledge you have. Exam strategy is vital. Without it, you’re wandering into the abyss in the hope of glory. It almost never works out. Long-term preparation is vital,yet not enough. You must prepare in the week leading up to the exam and, in the 24-hours advance, prepare even more staunchly.

Then, and only then, can you expect to ace the NAPLEX exam!

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