Care + Career

      Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

      The ExCPT exam — what to expect and how to prepare

      For April S. in New York, the decision to become a certified pharmacy technician was easy,

      April-Schanz-Pennsylvania-CPhT-with-filter"I started my career in pharmacy ringing up prescriptions at a small retail pharmacy. Watching the impact the pharmacists and technicians had, I knew I had to become one myself! I studied and worked really hard and eventually became #NHACertified. I'm now right at the forefront of medical advances and I feel so honored to have such a pivotal role in patient care."

      Do you have a dream like April's?

      To become a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT), you'll need to sit for NHA's ExCPT exam. In this post, we'll share what you need to know about the exam — eligibility requirements, format, content and tools that can help ensure you are prepared come test day.

      Am I eligible to sit for the ExCPT exam?

      Requirements for the ExCPT exam are a little different. To find out if you meet the requirements, scroll down to STEP 1 on our Pharmacy Technician Certification page and click "Do I qualify?" to answer a few simple questions. We'll tell you if you're eligible or not.

      If you don't qualify but have special circumstances, you can request an exception. Learn more in the official NHA Candidate Handbook.


      ExCPT exam format

      The ExCPT exam consists of 100 questions and 20 pretest questions. You will be given 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete the test, and you must finish in one continuous session.

      Don't worry about bringing a calculator. You aren't allowed to use your own during the exam (or any electronic device, for that matter) and one will be provided for you, should you need it.


      ExCPT exam content

      Below is a summary of the ExCPT exam content. You can find a more detailed outline, including how many exam items are associated to each topic, on the NHA Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) Test Plan.

      Overview and Laws

      A. Role, Scope of Practice, and General Duties of the Pharmacy Technician

      B. Laws and Regulations

      C. Controlled Substances

      Drugs and Drug Therapy

      A. Drug Classification

      B. Frequently Prescribed Medications

      Dispensing Process

      A. Prescription and Medication Order Intake and Entry

      B. Preparing and Dispensing Prescriptions

      C. Calculations

      D. Sterile and Nonsterile Products, Compounding, Unit Dose, and Repackaging

      Medication Safety and Quality Assurance

      *Test Plan based on results of the Job Analysis Study completed in 2016


      ExCPT exam study materials

      One way to prepare for your ExCPT exam is to use NHA's study materials and learning tools* ... they're based on the actual exam test plan!

      Plus, they include Focused Review® online remediation — which means that once you complete one of the online practice tests or quizzes, we'll let you know what content you should focus your studying efforts on. This ensures you maximize your study time and can feel as prepared as possible when your test day arrives.

      Check out all the study resources available for the ExCPT on our online store.


      The outlook for Pharmacy Technicians is bright. As the demand for prescription medications rises, so does the demand for CPhT's. And current healthcare trends are expanding the Pharmacy Technician's role, making certification even more valuable and important for job placement and growth.

      Familiarize yourself with the ExCPT exam format, review the content that will be covered using the study materials available to you. Empower your future by preparing now. It will be worth it! 


      *The purchase of NHA exam preparation materials is not required to sit for any NCCA-accredited certification exam and use does not guarantee a passing score on an exam. All NHA exams are NCCA-accredited.

      Topics: pharmacy technician, pharmacy, getting certified, pharm tech, ExCPT, nhacertified, career tools, cpht