NAPLEX or MPJE First? Which One?


It is NAPLEX and MPJE season. It’s a time of year that is full of anticipation, fear, excited, joy, and for some, anguish. Failing the NAPLEX or the MPJE was my biggest fear and I have heard from many who have failed one of these exams and been unable to obtain their license as quickly as they would like. Inevitably, the question comes up as to which exam I should take first? The NAPLEX or MPJE?

The Argument for Taking the NAPLEX First

Taking the NAPLEX first was my strategy when I graduated. I felt that this exam encompassed much more content than the MPJE. I would 100% agree that the above statement remains true. Because of this reason, it does make sense to take the NAPLEX before the MPJE.

Another reason for taking the NAPLEX prior to the MPJE is that you have likely just finished up clinical rotations. Hopefully, that medication knowledge is fresh in your head, making the NAPLEX slightly easier to study for and at least feel like you are better prepared.

The Argument for Taking the MPJE First

I would say for most pharmacy students, the MPJE is going to be slightly more difficult. By scheduling this exam prior to taking your NAPLEX, you might be a little less burned out than taking it after the NAPLEX. Law was always a much more difficult topic for me as I am not as passionate about it.

Did I Take the NAPLEX or MPJE First?

Looking back, I would not advise my strategy. The NAPLEX was the exam I took first…by one day. I took the NAPLEX on a Friday morning and I took the MPJE on a Saturday morning. I can tell you that I aced the NAPLEX and I was not worried about it.

The MPJE was a struggle. My score was passing, but it was not by as much as I would have been comfortable with. I definitely worried about it until I received my results. Because I technically had the NAPLEX scheduled first, I do feel as if I studied more for that exam.

So…My Advice: Take NAPLEX or MPJE First?

Before I answer that question, my top piece of advice would be to provide some separation between the NAPLEX and MPJE exams. I had a financial incentive to get licensed quickly as I took on a pharmacist position as soon as I graduated. If you are not in that position, I would display some patience. If you have a residency planned and do not need to be licensed until sometime in the fall, I would recommend at least 2 weeks between your exams and ideally, 1-2 months if it makes sense for you to do that.

As far as which exam to take first, I would take the MPJE first. I do recognize the fact that the NAPLEX likely has gotten much more difficult over the years due to numerous changes. The MPJE was definitely more difficult than I had wanted it to be, so more of my time would have been better spent studying for that exam first.

If you found this post helpful, you’ll definitely find this one useful as well: Studying for the NAPLEX? Here’s What the Data Says

If you are looking for study help on either of these exams, we have created helpful resources. For a good, quick overview of federal pharmacy law and a state study guide checklist, check out MPJE Master: Federal Pharmacy Law Review.

For more affordable NAPLEX help, you can find hours of video lectures, practice exams, cheat sheets, quizzes and more at You can also sign up to our FREE 10-day challenge where you’ll be emailed helpful NAPLEX study material every day for 10 days!


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Written By Eric Christianson

June 2, 2019

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