North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX®)

For those studying to become pharmacists, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX®) is an exam required for licensure in the United States. The NAPLEX is required in all 50 states. It is a computer-adaptive test meant to assess one’s ability to apply the vast knowledge learned in pharmacy school.

After receiving an authorization to test from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, NABP, applicants must register with an official testing facility to schedule a testing appointment. The exam consists of 185 questions and has a time allotment of four hours and fifteen minutes. There is also an optional 10-minute break after the first half of the examination. Of the 185 questions, only 150 are scored. The remaining 35 are “trial balloon” questions being tested for possible inclusion in future NAPLEX exams. These items are not identified to the test taker.

The NAPLEX is a computer-adaptive examination, meaning that the questions on the exam are dictated by the test taker’s early performance on it. Because of this, questions cannot be skipped during the examination, and answers cannot be reviewed or changed after they are submitted. Questions that are answered incorrectly will be presented again in another form later in the exam. This repeat testing allows for careful appraisal of the test taker’s skill level in a particular test category.

The NAPLEX is a multiple-choice examination with no writing or essay component. There are three main subject areas of testing:

  • Assess pharmacotherapy skills to assure safe and effective therapeutic outcomes (approximately 56% of the test)
  • Assess skills to assure safe and accurate preparation and dispensing of medications (approximately 33% of the test)
  • Assess, recommend, and provide health-care information that promotes public health (approximately 11% of the test)

The score one receives from the NAPLEX is a scaled score, meaning that the final score is not a measure of the test taker’s correct responses, nor is it the percentage of correct answers. It is an independent numerical score based on the number of questions answered correctly and the difficulty of the questions asked. A score of 75 or higher is required for passing. Unofficially, correctly answering approximately 60% of the questions correlates to a score of 75. Failure to answer at least 162 questions during the exam will result in a non-scored exam. Those who receive a score of less than 75 are given a performance profile that identifies their areas of strength and of weakness. The test taker may retake the exam in 91 days.

The NAPLEX is an examination required for licensure in the United States. It is designed to assess the knowledge and skills accumulated during training to become a pharmacist at a pharmacy school.

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