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The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is a standard examination created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to help individual state boards of pharmacy assess an individual's competency and knowledge so that he or she may be given a license to practice. The fee to take this exam is $505.
The NAPLEX is exclusively a computer-administered exam. After receiving an authorization to test from NABP, applicants must register with an official testing facility, such as Pearson VUE, at least two business days in advance to schedule a testing appointment. The exam consists of 185 questions and has a time limit of four hours and fifteen minutes, with an optional ten-minute break after approximately two hours. Of the 185 questions, only 150 are used to tabulate the applicant's score. The remaining 35 are "trial balloon" questions under consideration for inclusion on future NAPLEX tests. There is no way to distinguish a regular test question from a trial balloon.
The NAPLEX is an adaptive examination in that it tailors itself to the skill level of the applicant. The linear nature of the exam (applicants must answer a question to continue, and there is no backtracking) permits the computer to zero-in on incorrect responses and select similar questions for presentation later in the exam. This allows for analysis of applicants' skill levels across several performance categories.
The exam format consists primarily of multiple choice questions; there are no essay questions. The questions are split between two subtypes: a question with five individual ploys, or the K-Type, which consist of a question and three options numbered I, II and III, then five combinations of these options. An example of the K-Type is shown below.
Which of these agents demonstrates beta-adrenergic receptor selectivity?
A) I only
B) II only
C) I and II
D) II and III
E) I, II, and III
Which of the following vaccines is contraindicated in immunocompromised patients?
A) Pneumococcal polysaccharide B) Varicella C) Meningococcal conjugate D) Subcutaneous influenza
Exam results are typically reported seven business days after administration. Applicants may access their scores on the website of the state Board of Pharmacy. A tabulated score of 75 or higher is required for passing. Neither this standard or reported scores are percentage values, nor are they some configuration of right versus wrong. Rather, they represent the tabulated skill level of the applicant based on an algorithm developed by the Board of Pharmacy. That stated, it is unofficially held that answering about 60% of the questions correctly correlates to a score of 75. Applicants not obtaining a score of 75 or higher are given a performance profile, which details their relative areas of strength and weakness. They must wait at least 91 days before retaking the NAPLEX.
- "NAPLEX". National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Retrieved 28 August 2012.