BCPS Exam Frequently Asked Questions: My Top 10

BCPS Exam Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve been creating content to help pharmacists pass the BCPS exam for about 4 years now. The content we have created is not perfect, but there is no doubt that it has been helpful and we keep trying to improve year after year. Inevitably, I get asked a lot of questions about the BCPS testing process, credential, benefits, and application. Here are the 10 most frequently asked questions that I receive about the BCPS Exam.

BCPS Frequently Asked Question #1: Can a Retail Pharmacist Take the BCPS Exam?

Yes. As long as you are spending 50% of your working time doing the activities outlined in the content outline, you are good to go. This is pretty open to interpretation and if your employer feels that your work mostly aligns with items found in the outline, it shouldn’t be an issue. I have only ever heard from one individual who was audited on this, and now with employer attestation, I do not believe they will do any auditing on this, but I am not 100% sure as this is very new.

BCPS FAQ #2: Can I Retake the BCPS Exam if I fail?

Absolutely. With historic pass rates in the 60-65% range, there are literally over 1,000 pharmacists each year who don’t pass the first time. In 2018, there was over 1,300 that did not pass. I expect that number to grow as the number of applicants grows. There are numerous pharmacists who have had to take the exam two times or more.

BCPS FAQ #3: Can I Retake the BCPS Exam More Than Once?

Yes. There is no stipulation that I am aware of preventing you from taking the BCPS exam multiple times. As long as you do the application process and pay the fees, you can fire away as many times as you wish.

BCPS FAQ #4: How Long Do I Have to Wait to Retake the BCPS Exam?

The BCPS exam (and all other board certification exams – BCGP, BCACP, BCCCP, etc.) are only given during 2 testing periods. You are allowed to take the exam in consecutive testing periods. I would STRONGLY encourage this as you will SAVE $300. There are also specific registration windows. You cannot just sign up a week or two before the testing period. For example, in 2019, March 15th is the sign-up deadline to take the exam in the spring (late April/early May period).

BCPS FAQ #5: Do I Get A Salary Increase When I Become Certified?

Of course you would if I was your boss! In all seriousness, this is very institution specific. I will say that certification (earlier in my career) has opened doors that I don’t think would have been there if I didn’t have anything. Here’s a few pearls I’ve learned from other pharmacists in negotiating salary based on certification.

  • Ask the question. Simply asking if you can anticipate a pay raise for certification isn’t going to hurt anything. This is especially true if you are the first one seeking board certification at your institution or place of employment. At least you’ll know if you ask.
  • At a minimum, ask if they will give you a paid day off to take the exam and reimburse for study materials. Many pharmacists I’ve received emails from have asked and received at least one of these requests. You might as well get something for trying to go above and beyond!
  • If you are not satisfied with your employer’s compensation and work environment, you can always try to get a pay raise by transitioning to a different employer that potentially has a higher respect for credentialing.

BCPS FAQ #6: Are New Guidelines on the BCPS Exam?

To an extent, this is true. There is a significant delay, however. If you take the exam in the Spring, content is updated as of January 1st. So that is about a 4-5 month period where you will not be responsible for knowing guideline updates. So for Spring 2019, I would anticipate the possibility of seeing the lipid guideline update on there, but not the Afib changes from 2019.

BCPS FAQ #7: I Don’t Have a Residency, Can I Take the BCPS Exam? And How Soon Can I Take It?

Yes, you can. I did. You just have to wait a little longer to take the exam. I would encourage you to take it as close to getting out of school and/or residency as you can. Information tends to slowly disappear from your brain, especially if you don’t use it! Currently, you have to wait 3 years following licensure if you do not have a residency. Find full eligibility requirements here.

BCPS FAQ #8: I Don’t Have My PharmD, Can I Take The Exam?

Yes. As long as you have graduated and are a licensed pharmacist with the appropriate experience, a pharmacist does not need a PharmD to apply for the BCPS exam.

BCPS FAQ #9: How Soon Do I Get My BCPS Exam Results?

FOREVER… My advice: Take the exam and forget about it. Get back to work, go have some fun, and live your life. The results take a couple of months which feels like an eternity. I didn’t realize this when I took my exam(s) the first time. This is true of all BPS certifications.

BCPS FAQ #10: How Much Time Should I Take to Prepare For the BCPS Exam?

I get asked this a lot. You have to remember how many topics are covered on the BCPS exam. It is really difficult to get through all of these topics in less than a month or two. I recommend a minimum of 3-6 months to give yourself a good opportunity to get a broad overview of all the clinical topics and spend some serious time studying statistics and regulatory topics. Can you study for the BCPS exam in 2 months or less? Of course you can, but I would lower your expectations of passing the first time. One way to get by with less time is to spend more time studying per day. This may or may not be possible based upon your personal and professional schedule. Take advantage of this FREE BCPS study schedule to help you gauge how much time you need to prepare. I always tell people to think broadly when preparing for this exam. For the clinical portion, understand the top 2-3 drugs of choice for each condition and why you would choose a drug versus why you wouldn’t (i.e. adverse reactions, contraindications, drug interactions, administration issues etc.).

Questions about the exam? Here’s an update post and more information.

I hope these answers have been helpful and if you are looking for study material specific to the BCPS exam, you can find our All Access Packages here.

Eric Christianson, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP


  1. B.A.

    Hi, I graduated from Pharmacy school in 1993. I had to leave the USA and never had the chance to work or get the certification exam. I worked back home in college of Pharmacy, then got a masters and PhD in public health. I am now back in the US, and is interested to work as a Pharmacist. Can I still get certified? And where can I get preparation for the test?

  2. Dr.Shyam Nandan

    Hi..I have completed my Pharm.D degree from India and I dnt have any residency program..and I m having 3 years of clinical experience..Am I eligible to write BCPS..exam…plz guide me..thank you..

  3. Weylie

    Hello, I failed the BCPS twice and thought I did well the second go around. I got the same score both times. Im not going to give up on taking the exam but I’m not sure how to study anymore. Could you please share your advice?

    • Eric Christianson

      Hi Weylie, thanks for the question. I’d first do an assessment of what topic areas you were not comfortable with (i.e diabetes, women’s health, critical care, etc.). Then I would begin to develop a study plan from there. For those that are taking the exam the first time (or second), if you think you failed or if you maybe think you even passed, take 15 minutes after the exam and jot down those topic areas that you need to study more. Trust me, it is 15-30 minutes that is well invested to help you better prepare in the event you aren’t successful (remember that there is a high failure rate). You’ll also want to assess what areas of pharmacy you have a good background in and you can probably get by with study less. For many, statistics and regulatory questions can trip them up and prevent them from passing. I think we do a great job of preparing candidates for those type of questions. Hope that helps a little and don’t lose the faith, you can do it!


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Written By Eric Christianson

February 17, 2019

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