The NAPLEX at a Glance

The NAPLEX at a Glance

The NAPLEX® is a 185-question, multiple choice, computerized examination designed to determine whether candidates have the knowledge, judgment and skill necessary to practice pharmacy at entry-level competence. The exam tests three fundamental areas of competence: managing drug therapy, safely and accurately preparing and dispensing medications, and providing drug information and promoting public health. For a complete list of NAPLEX competency areas and statements, visit NABP.

Many NAPLEX questions refer to specific patient profiles, so called "scenario" questions. These questions require both a fundamental knowledge of pharmacy as well as the ability to interpret patient information. Most other questions are standard, so-called "stand-alone" multiple-choice items in which a question is asked and answer choices are offered but no patient profiles are given.

The NAPLEX follows the one-best-answer rule, in which several choices may be plausible, but only one answer choice is the best. You will encounter both single-answer and combined-response questions. In single-answer questions, you must choose the best option for completing a statement or answering a question. In combined-response questions, you must choose among several combinations of answer components.

What to Expect

You will have approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete 185 questions on a computer. After about 2 hours, there is a mandatory 10-minute break. Thirty-five of the questions on the exam are pretest questions and will not affect the student's score. However, there is no way of knowing which items are pretest questions so students should answer each question as though it counts.

The NAPLEX is adaptive, meaning that your performance on each question determines which question the computer asks next. If you answer a question correctly, the next question that the computer asks will be more difficult. If you answer a question incorrectly, the next question will be easier. In this way, the test program tracks your number of correct and incorrect responses as well as the difficulty of the questions you are asked.

Your NAPLEX Score

Your NAPLEX® score is a scaled score, meaning that your final score is neither a number-correct score, nor percent-correct score, but rather an independent value based on measures such as the number of questions you answered correctly and the difficulty of the questions you were asked. A scaled score of 75 or better is considered passing.

If you fail to answer all 185 questions, your score will be penalized. If you fail to answer at least 162 questions, you will get no score at all. You should answer all questions, even if you have to guess.

How to Register for the NAPLEX

Registering to take the NAPLEX® and scheduling your exam date is a multi-step process.

First, contact the board of pharmacy in the state in which you want licensure. The state board will issue paperwork and instructions. The state board will determine your eligibility to test and will notify the NABP. You will then be issued an Authorization to Test, which has the following information:

  • test authorization number
  • expiration date
  • range of dates during which you can take the NAPLEX

Next, schedule your examination with Sylvan Prometric. You will need your Authorization to Test information to schedule a test date.