How to Study for the NAPLEX

Passing the NAPLEX is the final hurdle in becoming a pharmacist.

Successful completion of the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is required by anyone wishing to practice pharmacy in the United States. The NAPLEX is a 185-question test, administered in multiple-choice format and including both stand-alone questions and questions based on scenarios provided on the test. The NAPLEX is a computer-based test and is “adaptive,” meaning that your answer to each question determines the question that the computer asks next. A correct answer generates a question that is more difficult; an incorrect answer produces an easier question. There are various ways to prepare for the test and numerous study resources available.

Obtain study materials for the NAPLEX test. There are dozens of books, online courses and other study materials available, but you’ll want to settle on a couple of hard-copy study guides and supplement those with some online sites that offer supporting materials. Although the amount of time devoted to studying for the NAPLEX varies from person to person, count on one to three months at four hours per day.

Visit a NAPLEX online practice site and review some test sample questions. Be prepared for not only multiple-choice questions but also scenario questions. For example, you’ll be presented with a question, followed by three choices (choice a, choice b and choice c), followed by five multipl- choice answers, such as: A. choice a only; B. choice c only; C. choices a and b; D. choices b and c; E. choices a, b and c. You’ll need to choose the best response.

Review multiple-choice test strategies. Read directions. Don’t spend too much time on a single question. When in doubt, go with your first response. Don’t second-guess yourself. Try to figure out the answer without looking at the multiple-choice options. If you get the answer on your own and you see the answer among the choices, you’ll be confident in your choice.

Use flashcards. For the most part, NAPLEX tests what you already know. Repetition is a proven test-taking strategy, and flash cards are a good method to prepare for facts, formulas and definitions.

Taper off your studying about a week before you take the exam. Kaplan, one of the most popular study guides for NAPLEX test-takers, states, “This is not the time for cramming in new material, but a time to organize and integrate what you already know. Work on making what you know more accessible.” Kaplan also suggests reviewing keywords, concepts and phrases. Practice recall, not re-reading material. You pretty much know, by this time, all you will know and all you need to know. It’s also important to know what you don’t know. When taking the test, when you come across a question to which you don’t know the answer, you can simply mark an answer and move on without agonizing and wasting time.

  • Foreign-educated students need to take and pass the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC) certification before sitting for the NAPLEX exam.
  • You'll have 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the NAPLEX.
  • You must complete at least 162 questions. The minimum passing score is 75. Candidates who do not pass will be provided with a diagnostic report, so they can determine where they need improvement.

John Kibilko has been writing professionally since 1979. He landed his first professional job with "The Dearborn Press" while still in college. He has since worked as a journalist for several Wayne County newspapers and in corporate communications. He has covered politics, health care, automotive news and police and sports beats. Kibilko earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University.