2018 NAPLEX Exam Primer – Taking the Exam

The 2018 NAPLEX Exam is coming for some of you and I’m sure if you are anything like me, you have a mix of excitement, nervousness, and fear! I’ve been working diligently to update my 2018 NAPLEX practice exams and thought I’d share some ideas on preparing for and taking the NAPLEX exam.

I get the opportunity to interact with students who have failed the NAPLEX and find out what went well for them and what didn’t go well.  With just renewing my BCGP certification by examination, I’m definitely in the test taking mindset.  With the dropping pass rates for NAPLEX, you need all the help you can get, so here’s my top in-exam prep strategies to help you pass the NAPLEX in 2018.

  1. Don’t be cocky.  The NAPLEX is not just “another” final exam. I had a student do very well in pharmacy school with a >3.5 GPA and she ended up failing her board exam.  You could imagine the feeling of really never being close to failing anything and all of a sudden you are in a situation where you’ve failed the biggest exam in your life.  At an absolute minimum, I would recommend at LEAST 2 months of prep time studying between 2-4 hours per day.
  2. The length of the NAPLEX exam is brutal for some students.  I’ve heard this complaint and I can understand it.  When I took NAPLEX it was 185 questions and when I took the BCPS exam, it was 200 questions.  BCPS is now 175.  200 questions for the BCPS is a lot and with the switch of the NAPLEX to 250 questions, you have to be prepared for the all day juggernaut.  I would strongly suggest you do at least one practice test that is 250 questions so you have a sense for how exhausting that is to you.
  3. You CANNOT go back and review or answer a question later.  I don’t like this, but I understand it.  I’m sure there are probably questions that would tip off the answer for another question.  On the NAPLEX you can’t “flag” a question and come back to it.  You have to answer it and move on.
  4. Don’t spend a big chunk of time on a single question (especially early in the exam). If you are on question 249 and have 30 minutes left, go ahead and overanalyze all you want, but if you are within the first 200 questions, you have to keep an eye on the clock as the testing time for the NAPLEX is 6 hours.  6 hours is 360 minutes for 250 questions.  That is less than 90 seconds per question!  Again, make sure you are comfortable with that pace prior to taking the NAPLEX, because you will have to be!
  5. Review the NAPLEX bulletin. The NAPLEX bulletin contains essential information and will help prepare you for what is to come.  This will also help ease your fears and give you the opportunity to call out the testing center if you feel something is not correct.  For example, if you can’t get access to the simple calculator that they promise on the computer screen, you’ll have the confidence to step up and say something, rather than just assume that maybe you aren’t supposed to have one.
  6. If something seems wrong, say something.  I remember taking the MPJE and I thought that I did not get enough questions.  I’m absolutely sure I was overanalyzing things, but I could have sworn that I was supposed to get 90 questions.  I remember that my exam cut out in the low 80’s.  I informed the testing center immediately when it said my test was done so they could document this.  I also emailed MPJE/NABP following the exam so I made sure I had everything documented.  I think this is rare and I ended up not hearing anything, but got my results a couple weeks later and I had passed.  If something seems odd, say something as you don’t want to have to take it again, much less pay for it again if something truly wasn’t your fault.

Interested in a research study on how to prepare for the NAPLEX? Check this out!

Written By Eric Christianson

April 18, 2018

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