NAPLEX Question of the Week: Preparing for the NAPLEX in the New Year (Part 1)

I hope everyone has had some time off and had a wonderful Christmas season. This post along with next week's will help you focus on having a good plan to study in 2020.

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You've heard about the NAPLEX likely since before getting admitted into pharmacy school. It has been in the back of your mind throughout your nearly 4 years. In a few days, 2020 will be here and you will be taking the exam in just a few months! In the many years I have taught live reviews across the country I am surprised how often students do not do the "little" things that mean a lot come time to take the exam. Here are some practical pearls to getting prepared for the exam.

1. Do Not Cram.  This is not Pharmacotherapy. There just is no way to cram 4 years of intense education into 2-4 weeks. If you have not started studying in a formalized way, this should be your 1st New Year's resolution! Come up with a plan to divide and conquer and just doing that will ease your stress (think making a budget!).

2. Read the Candidate's Guide. NABP on their website has a guide for all students who will be taking the exam. It gives details on test design, competency statements, and sample questions. A number of times students have thought all questions were multiple choice which is incorrect. The most recent guide as of this writing can be found here: https://nabp.pharmacy/wp-conte...

3. Practice. Practice. Practice. Questions are your friend. The more you practice, the more you get into a rhythm of "test mode". Additionally, you identify areas of weakness that you need to improve upon. Also you identify areas of strength which helps you tailor your study habits. AccessPharmacy has a number of great resources for studying and practicing questions including the following resources by Dr. Scott Sutton, Clinical Professor and Chair at the University of South Carolina. These resources allow for creation of custom quizzes both by disease state or by competency statement: 

Naplex Review Guide 3rd Edition:https://accesspharmacy.mhmedic...

Naplex Online Question Bank: https://accesspharmacy.mhmedical.com/qa.aspx?resourceID=2255

All NAPLEX resources can be found on AccessPharmacy under the "NAPLEX Central" Tab on the top right of the front page.

4. Calculations.  How many calculations have you done on your rotations this year? Unless you had a compounding rotation, most of your experience is likely with pharmacokinetics or TPN formulation calculations.  You likely are rusty and need to get back into the swing of things. 

5. Back to the Basics. Chances are on your rotations you are being challenged to practice at the top of your future license so to speak. This includes being educated on all the most difficult cases available. It is important to remember that the exam is testing your ability to perform as an entry level pharmacist. Chances are also that you haven't been quizzed a lot on important parts of an exam such as brand/generic names, storage required for certain medications, routes of administration, delivery systems, etc. As stated in #2 above, be sure and read the candidate's guide to review the competency statements to ensure you are studying for all aspects of the examination. 

Next week's column will touch on some further points to help you prepare for success. 

As the calendar turns to 2020, if you haven't put together a plan now is the time! Look forward to helping each of you in the New Year!

Dr. B

Go to the profile of Christopher M. Bland

Christopher M. Bland

Clinical Associate Professor, University of Georgia College of Pharmacy

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