Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam is In-Center Only Until Further Notice
Earlier this month, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) announced they are suspending online proctored exams for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). The PTCE is a credentialing exam, allowing individuals to earn the designation of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). The PTCB had been offering at-home testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement came to us as a surprise; the PTCB stated only that they identified an unexpected issue with testing. No timeline has been provided for a return to online testing. You can read the PTCB response here: https://ptcb.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/4408234444557-Online-Proctored-Testing-OnVUE-Unavailable
Differences Between Online and In-Center PTCE Exam Testing
Many of our students ask about the advantages and disadvantages of at-home vs. in-center testing. While the online pharmacy technician certification exam was convenient, it did come with several drawbacks. Students had to have adequate equipment at home, including a computer with an up-to-date web browser, a stable high-speed internet connection, and a webcam. Adequate clutter-free space was required. Students were not allowed to have any papers, devices, or other materials visible in the testing area.
Taking the PTCE at a Pearson Vue testing center offers many advantages over the at-home proctored exam. It may be possible to access a scratch paper and hand-held calculator in the center if they are available and allowed per the center protocol. Internet connection problems or other technical issues are less likely due to the business-grade internet and equipment optimized for the Pearson Vue software. Also, the stress of preparing a room at home or dealing with other household members, pets, or visitors during the exam is eliminated. We often encourage students to test in-center if they are comfortable with the current level of risk and have a center within reasonable traveling distance.
How to Ensure a Safe and Successful Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam
In-center testing may raise some concerns, especially in parts of the country experiencing increased rates of COVID-19 community spread. Test takers must ensure to follow CDC guidelines to ensure a safe environment for themselves and those around them. Ideally, this would include:
- Being fully vaccinated by the date of the test
- Appropriately wearing a mask for the duration of the test, unless the room is well ventilated and distancing can be maintained
- Sanitizing all working surfaces
- Rescheduling the test if the test taker is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, or is in a situation in which the CDC recommends self-quarantine
Depending on local laws, there may be specific requirements at the testing center. You can read more about the testing center safety requirements here: https://home.pearsonvue.com/coronavirus-update#health-and-safety
There are important considerations to ensure a successful experience when taking the PTCE at a Pearson Vue testing center. Make sure to arrive early, and make sure to account for traffic. It is better to err on the side of caution and plan on arriving very early. This eliminates the stress that can come with rushing or getting stuck in traffic, which can have a significant impact on test performance. If you have special testing needs, make sure to contact the testing center ahead of time to ensure you can be accommodated. If you are anticipating the use of a handheld calculator and/or scratch paper, contact the center ahead of time to see if this is allowed and available. We always advise our students to practice on-screen calculations and problem writing so they are prepared to use the on-screen software.
We cover test taking strategies in our PTCB-recognized training program, so check out our curriculum if you are interested in a structured program: https://pharmacytechscholar.com/curriculum