The NAPLEX – the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination – is an exam administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to measure a person’s competency and knowledge level in the field of pharmacy. It is part of the NABP’s process in determining whether the candidate is qualified to have a license to practice.
The NABP was founded in 1904 as a professional organization supporting the boards of pharmacy across the country. Part of its main aim is to make sure that pharmacists are competent in their chosen profession, in a general effort to ensure public health. The NAPLEX is one of the assessment programs it established for that purpose.
Candidates register for the NAPLEX by filling out an application, and the NABP requires them to check with their state board of pharmacy to make sure they fulfill its requirements. If the board deems a candidate eligible, Pearson VUE–the NABP’s test vendor–sends an email containing an “authorization to test (ATT),” so that the candidate can schedule the exam day. As of July 2010, it costs $485 to take the NAPLEX. The NABP provides the NAPLEX/MPJE Registration Bulletin, which contains detailed information about the exam, the registration and test scheduling processes, and test day requirements.
A computer-based exam, the NAPLEX is made up of 185 multiple-choice questions. Each question falls into either of two categories: a question with five possible answers; or a question with three options bearing the Roman numerals I, II and III, and five possible answers using combinations of the aforementioned options. The NAPLEX has a time limit of four hours and 15 minutes, with an optional 10-minute break inserted in the middle of the testing period. Only 150 questions are used to calculate the candidate’s score; the remaining 35 questions act as trial questions under consideration by the NABP for inclusion on future NAPLEX exams. The NABP does not distinguish between the real questions and the trial ones.
Candidates can choose to prepare for the exam–or at least anticipate the kind of questions it will pose–by taking the Pre-NAPLEX. This practice examination consists of 50 questions, and it is timed for 70 minutes. Pre-NAPLEX takers must complete it in its entirety once they begin; they cannot review questions or change an answer once they confirm an answer’s choice, and they will receive their score once they have answered all questions. With a cost of $50 as of July 2010, people can take the Pre-NAPLEX up to two times.
The NAPLEX functions as an assessment tool for aspiring pharmacists in three aspects. Candidates must be able to identify practice standards for the safe and effective treatment of disease through the administration of drugs, safe and accurate methods of dispensing them, and provide and apply information so that they can promote the best health care possible.