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The Best PTCB Study Guides - 2023

Article by Jane Newsom. Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 2, 2023.

Overview Of The PTCB Exam

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and their certification exam (PTCE) is the gateway to starting your career as a Pharmacy Technician. The certification is valid nationwide, and candidates must meet the following prerequisites:

• Possess a high school diploma or equivalent educational diploma • Full disclosure of all criminal and State Board of Pharmacy registration or licensure actions • Compliance with all applicable PTCB Certification Policies • Passing score on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam

For prospective Pharmacy Techs, the PTCB Exam is one of the most important tests you’ll ever take.

We’ll cover the exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best PTCB study guides, review guides, and practice tests for test year 2023 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:

PTCB Exam Details

The PTCB Exam is computerized and given at Pearson VUE test centers. The PTCE lasts 2 hours, and contains 90 multiple-choice questions. 80 of the questions are scored, and 10 are ‘pilot’ questions, which don’t count towards your final score. The questions include 4 possible choices and are single-answer.

Exam Sections

The PTCB Exam contains 9 sections, each of which account for between ~7% and 13% of the total questions. Those sections are:

Pharmacology for Technicians

This section accounts for 13.75% of the content, and includes topics like Generic and Brand names, Therapeutic Equivalence, Drug Interactions, Dosages, etc.

Pharmacy Law and Regulations

This section accounts for 12.5% of the content, and includes topics like Hazardous substances handling and exposure, Record Keeping and documentation, FDA Recall Classifications, etc.

Sterile and Non-Sterile Compounding

This section accounts for 8.75% of the content, and includes topics like Infection Control, Equipment Selection and Usage, Sterile Compunding Process, etc.

Medication Safety

This section accounts for 12.5% of the content, and includes topics like Error Prevention Strategies, High Risk Medications, Safety Strategies, etc.

Pharmacy Quality Assurance

This section accounts for 7.5% of the content, and includes topics like QA Practices, Risk Management, Infection Control Procedures, etc.

Medication Order Entry and Fill Process

This section accounts for 17.5% of the content, and includes topics like Order Entry Process, Dosage Calculations, Dispensing Process, etc.

Pharmacy Inventory Management

This section accounts for 8.75% of the content, and includes topics like Ordering and Receiving Process, Storage Requirements, Removal, etc.

Pharmacy Billing and Reimbursement

This section accounts for 8.75% of the content, and includes topics like Reimbursement Policies and Plans, Third Party Resolution, Coordination of Benefits, etc.

Pharmacy Information System Usage and Application

This section accounts for 10% of the content, and includes topics like Pharmacy Computer Applications, Databases, Document management, etc.

Exam Scoring

Scores for the test are computed by scaling the value of each question against the expected difficulty as estimated by a panel of experts. The range of possible scaled scores is from 1,000 to 1,600, and a passing score is 1,400. Official scores are provided online roughly 1 to 3 weeks after taking the exam, via email or through the PTCB website. Scores are not provided over phone or fax.

Best PTCB Study Guides

Secrets of the PTCB Exam

PCAT Prep Plus
Stg Edition
by Kaplan

Pros: Complete and comprehensive review of all exam topics.
Cons: Small number of typographical errors.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5

Secrets of the PTCB Exam is our number 1 recommendation for best PTCB Exam Study Guide for 2021. It has a ton of well organized and useful content, in addition to great practice questions and reviews of the exam itself. The full list of features include:

  • A thorough review for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Exam.
  • practice questions with detailed answer explanations.
  • Detailed test-taking strategies and rationale.
  • 5 essential skills necessary to do well on the PTCB test.

This book has everything you need to succeed on the exam, and does a great job of conveying information. If you only plan to pick up one resource to help you study, make sure it’s this one.

PTCB Exam Study Guide

PTCB Exam Study Guide
2023 Edition
by Ascencia Test Prep

Pros: Good online resources and practice exams.
Cons: Some typographical and other errors.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

PTCB Exam Study Guide is our second spot for study guides. As with our top pick, it provides a full review of the important exam content. The full list of features include:

  • 2 full length practice tests.
  • Complete review of all topics covered on the exam.
  • Access to additional online resources.

It also comes with full length practice tests and access to a bunch of good online content. Even though it didn’t quite take our top spot, this is a completely viable choice to help you succeed on your first crack at the exam!

PTCB Exam Simplified

PTCB Exam Simplified
3rd Edition
by David A Heckman

Pros: Good number of practice questions and exams.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as other resources on this list.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

PTCB Exam Simplified is another excellent choice for students preparing to take the PTCB Exam. It has quite a bit of great info and useful practice questions and exams. Features include:

  • Full-Length Practice Exam with Detailed Answer Key.
  • Covers each of the nine knowledge domains .
  • Step-by-Step Guide for Interpreting Prescriptions

It didn’t quite make it into our top pick due to stiff competition from other players, but this is definitely a great resource.

Barron’s PTCE

Barron's PTCE
2nd Edition
by Sacha Koborsi-Tadros

Pros: Good online resources and practice tests.
Cons: Some typographical and other errors.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5

Barron’s PTCE rounds out our picks for best PTCB Study Guides. They’re a major player in the exam prep area, and they do a good job with this title. It has a good number of full length exams, which can be quite handy in the final days leading up to your test. Features include:

  • 3 full length practice exams (2 in book and 1 online).
  • Hundreds of practice questions with detailed answer explanations.
  • Diagnostic test to help you focus your study time.

Between the online exams and solid overall content, this study guide is fully worth your consideration.

Best PTCB Flashcards

In addition to the excellent books mentioned above, pharmacy tech students will see significant benefits in prepping for the exam using flashcards. Our top picks for Best PTCB Flashcards are outlined below.

Flashcard Study System for the PTCB Exam

Flashcard Study System for the PTCB Exam
1st Edition
by PTCB Exam Secrets

Pros: Comprehensive list of terms covering major exam topics.
Cons: Cards are relatively dense and contain a lot of info.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

Flashcard Study System for the PTCB Exam is our top pick for flashcards to help you prepare for the PTCB exam. It has over 300 cards containing key information across all test topics. Key features include:

  • Over 300 flashcards.
  • Covers all major topics and themes covered by the exam.

If you plan to pick up flashcards to help in your studies, these are your best bet. Repetitive drilling on major topics is a good way to help in the days leading up to the exam. Flashcards have a tremendous benefit for students who elect to use them in their test preparation.

Wrapping Up

For Pharmacy Tech students, the PTCB is one of the most important exams you need to prepare for. Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.

We’ve rounded up the top PTCB study guides and flashcards and presented them above. To recap our recommendations:

Top Study Guide RecommendationSecrets of the PTCB Exam
Top Flashcard RecommendationFlashcard Study System for the PTCB Exam

Our top pick for best PTCB Study Guide is Secrets of the PTCB Exam. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, and is the most well-rounded resource available.

For top flashcard pick, we recommend Flashcard Study System for the PTCB Exam. It’s got over 300 highly relevant cards covering all topics from the exam.

Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best PTCB resources available. Good luck, and study hard!

Sources and Further Reading

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