BCGP Exam Study Tips – I Passed! (Again)

I recently took the Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP) exam in the spring of 2024 and continue to work in geriatrics. I’m happy to report this was the third time I’ve taken and passed the exam (and recertification exam). I’ve maintained my BCGP certification (formerly CGP) since 2011. I can safely say that I feel competent in preparing for the BCGP exam even though it is challenging. In this post, I’ll outline some of the most important BCGP exam study tips that helped me feel confident coming into the exam and ultimately prepared me for success.

Why Candidates Fail The BCGP Exam

We’ve been creating content and study materials to help candidates prepare to pass the BCGP exam for over 10 years. While many of the BCGP content outline objectives are vague, there are some that are a little more specific. I strongly encourage you to review the content outline as some specifics are easy to prepare for. The “Geriatric Patient Population” section is 29% of your exam and will make or break you. Here are a few examples of specific items from the BCGP content outline that are easy to prepare for.

  • Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Isolation
  • Ageism and Therapeutic Nihilism
  • Self-Determination and End-of-life Decisions (e.g., advance care planning, legal documents, capacity, conservatorship)
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL/IADL)
  • Age-Related Physiological Changes

When I hear from candidates who have failed the BCGP exam, many will report that they were unprepared for all the non-pharmacotherapy questions. The “Therapeutics and Patient Management” section only makes up 50% of this exam. According to the content outline, HALF of your questions will NOT necessarily be about drug knowledge (side effects, contraindications, guidelines, etc.). This is a hard concept for pharmacists to understand but it is essential to remember if you want to create a good study plan to pass this exam.

I think we have done a better job than anyone with our study materials in helping candidates prepare for the non-pharmacotherapy sections of the BCGP exam. We have PDFs on these topics, they are covered in videos, and we have developed many questions to help you prepare for your exam. Whether you use our study materials or not, review the content line by line and make sure you understand the concepts associated with the terminology.

BCGP Exam Study Tips – Review Geriatric Disease States First

If I only had 7 days to study for the BCGP Exam, I would focus on the “Geriatric Patient Population” and “Professional Practice” sections of the exam. If I had time left over to review pharmacotherapy (50% of the exam), I would focus solely on classic geriatric disease states. Here’s a list of some disease states that are very important in geriatric patients where I would anticipate you getting some questions on your exam.

  • Anemia
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • BPH
  • CKD
  • CHF
  • Constipation
  • COPD
  • DVT
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Dysphagia
  • Falls
  • Glaucoma
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Hypertension
  • Hypothyroid
  • Influenza
  • Insomnia
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • PAD
  • RLS
  • Seizures
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • UTIs

We have included all these disease states and many more in our BCGP study materials.

BCGP Exam Study Tips – You Will Get Questions Wrong

As I mentioned before, I have taken the BCGP exam three times over the course of 13 years. There will always be questions that I don’t know the answer. It can be very stressful when you are given a question that you can’t figure out. It is even more stressful if you have a couple in a row that you don’t know. You can’t let this frustrate you and affect your focus on the next question. Practice exams and questions can help you with this anxiety and I strongly encourage candidates to take a full practice exam or two if possible.

Tackling The “Professional Practice” Section of The BCGP Exam

In my opinion, the hardest section to prepare for is “Professional Practice”. There is lots of vague terminology found in that section and hard to guess what exactly is going to be asked. Some examples of that vague terminology are:

  • Continuity of Care
  • Preventative Care
  • Ethics
  • Population Health

We’ve done our best to define these terms in our study materials and provide more detail on these topics in how they relate to the geriatric patient population.

Within the “Professional Practice” section, there are also some more specific items that you should pay attention to. The Beers Criteria, MAI, FORTA, and STOPP/START are all mentioned within this section of the content outline. Statistics and regulations are also mentioned. Don’t overlook these topics.

These BCGP exam study tips will help you develop a study plan to pass your exam. If you are interested in study materials specifically developed for this exam, here’s the link to the Meded101 BCGP Study Materials. If you’ve decided to go another route and pursue a different board certification such as BCACP, BCPS, or BCMTMS, you can follow this link.

I get quite a few questions from candidates regarding board certification exams so feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] – I do my best to answer them all.

Happy Studying!

Eric Christianson, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP


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Written By Eric Christianson

June 16, 2024

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