Preparing for the ExCPT

This page will cover Preparing for the ExCPT (the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.)

This test and certification program is run by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.

The first thing we'll cover is the content of the exam itself, then we'll go through a checklist of study materials, and finally a walk-through of what you need to do once you're ready to take the test.

Exam Content

The exam covers the following content:

  • Questions about the Dispensing Process will be 52% of the exam. This includes prescription information, preparing and dispensing prescriptions, how to correctly calculate days supply, etc.... This is the largest single section of the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, and is designed to ensure your knowledge is current and accurate.

  • Questions about Regulations and Technician Duties will be 25% of the exam. This will cover the roles of a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician, functions a technician can and cannot perform, and information on controlled substances and how controlled substances are regulated. Information on labels and packaging will also be covered here. This section will also test your knowledge of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

  • Questions about Drugs and Drug Therapy will account for the remaining 23% of the exam. This includes different drug categories, brand and generic names, and drug reactions and interactions. Although this is the smallest section of the exam, it is still very important. Make sure to study and understand different dosage forms and over-the-counter (OTC) products, including vitamins.

ExCPT Exam Format

The format for the exam is 110 multiple-choice questions.

Each question will have four possible answers, with one answer being the correct or best answer.

You earn points for every correct answer, and incorrect answers do not count against you.

This means it will be important to answer every question, even if you're not 100% certain about the correct answer.

Of the 110 questions, 100 will count toward your score, and the other 10 are test questions for future exams.

There is no way to know which questions are the practice questions, so answer every question to try and earn the maximum number of points.

Practice Test Information

The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians offers an online practice test. Details can be found on their website ICPT website

The cost for the practice test is $25 and it consists of 50 practice questions.

This practice exam will give you a good idea of what you may need to study, and it is highly recommended that you take it prior to registering for the actual exam.

After taking the practice test, try to figure out which areas of study you need to work on the most.

Then, use the following list of resources. These resources cover all topics on the exam, and are used to source a lot of the information.


  • American Pharmacists Association, The Pharmacy Technician Workbook and Certification Review, Second Edition (Englewood, CO: Morton Publishing, 2004).

  • Lile JM, Miller DE and Rybicki AL, Pharmacy Certified Technician Training Manual, Tenth Edition, (Lansing, MI: Michigan Pharmacists Association, 2006).

  • Posey LM, APhA's Complete Review for the Pharmacy Technician, (Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 2001).

  • Reifman N, Certification Review for Pharmacy Technicians, Sixth Edition (Golden, CO: Ark Pharmaceutical Consultants, 2002).

  • Schafermeyer KW, The National Pharmacy Technician Training Program, latest edition (St. Charles, MO: Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, 2007).

Use these resources to help prepare for your examination. Once you feel comfortable with the various content that you'll be tested on, you will need to schedule your Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.

Prior to scheduling, be sure you meet the eligibility requirements.

You'll need:

  • A High School Diploma or GED,

  • no felony convictions,

  • and no drug-related or controlled substance convictions of any kind.

Also be prepared to bring state issued identification with you, such as a Passport, driver's license or state ID card.

If your address has changed, be sure to bring a current utility bill with your current address with you in case they ask for it.

The full eligibility list is posted online at the ICPT website.

If you have any questions, be sure to contact them ahead of time to ask. Don't wait until the day of the test to find out you're not eligible.

For the exam itself, you'll have two hours (120 minutes) to answer 110 questions.

No cell phones or electronic devices are allowed, so leave them at home.

There is a calculator provided on the computer you take the test on.

Remember, every question is multiple-choice, so you need to answer roughly one question per minute to stay on pace to finish the examination within the time limit.

You'll be supplied with two blank pieces of paper to use as scratch paper during the exam and you cannot ask any questions once the exam has begun.

You will be allowed to provide comments on the exam after you finish, if you feel any questions were ambiguous or unclear.

After you finish the exam, your score will be available to you immediately. This means you'll know right away if you passed or failed.

If you failed, you will be provided with a list of questions you missed to help you study for your next attempt. You're eligible to re-take the exam four weeks after an unsuccessful attempt. 72% of technicians pass on the first attempt. Good luck with your attempt to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician.

Additional Resources:

  • Catizone CA, Survey of Pharmacy Law. (Park Ridge, IL: National Association of Boards of Pharmacy); 2006.
  • DiPiro JT, Talbert RL, Yee GC, Matzke JR, Wells BG and Posey LM, Pharmacotherapy: a Pathophysiologic Approach, Sixth Edition, ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005).
  • Enrlich A, Medical Terminology for Health Professionals, Fourth Edition, (Albany, NY: Delmar Learning, 2001)
  • Lacy C, Drug Information Handbook, Fifteenth Edition, (Hudson, OH: Lexi-Comp Inc., 2007).
  • Lile JM, Miller DE and Rybicki AL, Pharmacy Certified Technician Training Manual, Tenth Edition, (Lansing, MI: Michigan Pharmacists Association, 2006).
  • Reifman N, Certification Review for Pharmacy Technicians, Seventh Edition (Golden, CO: Ark Pharmaceutical Consultants, 2005).
  • Schafermeyer KW, The National Pharmacy Technician Training Program, Sixth Edition (St. Charles, MO: Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, 2007).
  • Thompson Healthcare, Physician's Desk Reference, Sixty-First Edition, (Montvale, NJ:, Medical Economics Company, Inc., 2007).
  • Thompson Healthcare, Drug Information for the Health Care Professional, Twenty-Seventh Edition, (Englewood, CO: Micromedix, 2007).
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, http://www.dea.gov
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Remington: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy, Twenty-First Edition, (Lippincot Williams and Wilkins, 2005).

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