NAPLEX Question of the Week: More than Multiple Choice

An important component of preparing for the NAPLEX is to know how the examination is structured. This week's column focuses on question formats.

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A number of students unfortunately on an annual basis do not completely read the NAPLEX Candidate Application Bulletin. This is unfortunate as NABP does an excellent job outlining the examination including exam day procedures, the application process, making the appointment to take the exam, how the exam is administered, and finally what the test design is with competency statements and sample questions. Every year students get surprised when they take the exam and realize that there are more than just multiple choice questions. Actually there are 5 possible types of questions on the 250 question examination:

1. Multiple Choice: These are what most people are expecting. Essentially you have 4 possible responses with one correct answer. 

2. Multiple-Response: For these questions, there are at least 5 possible selections but the key is that you have to "Select ALL that apply". Therefore there could in fact be more than one correct answer. These are extremely challenging for most students including my own when using these types of questions on my quizzes/tests. 

3. Constructed-Response: These are fill in the blank questions. The example in the bulletin involves a calculation where you have to fill in the answer with the nearest whole number. Therefore it is important to work through math problems when practicing so that you will be prepared if requested to fill in the blank with a calculated value. 

4. Ordered-Response: For these questions, you have to highlight, drag, and order answer options in a particular order (such as highest to lowest). The example in the candidate bulletin involves potency of topical corticosteroids. So anything you could rank could be asked in this type of question.

5. Hot Spot: This is where you have a diagram where you have to use your computer mouse to identify something on the diagram (example in bulletin is HIV life cycle).

Just knowing what types of questions are possible decreases anxiety and therefore helps you prepare best. Remember one of the best ways to get ready for the exam is to practice, practice, practice, and practice some more. There are lots of sample questions on AccessPharmacy available for you to prepare. Keep working hard! Test time is just around the corner.

Christopher M. Bland

Clinical Professor, University of Georgia College of Pharmacy

Dr. Christopher M. Bland is a Clinical Professor at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy at the Southeast GA campus in Savannah, GA. Dr. Bland has over 20 years of academic and clinical experience in a number of clinical areas. He is a Fellow of both the Infectious Diseases Society of America as well as the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. He is co-founder of the Southeastern Research Group Endeavor, SERGE-45, with over 80 practitioners across 14 states involved. Dr. Bland serves as Associate Editor for the NAPLEX Review Guide 4th edition as well as Editor-In-Chief for the Question of the Week. He has provided live, interactive reviews for more than 10 Colleges/Schools of Pharmacy over the course of his career.