A panel of content experts established a passing score for the PTCE using industry best practices. The method used by the panel, as directed by a psychometrician, is known as the modified-Angoff method. This method requires that field experts (panel members) evaluate individual test items and estimate the percentage of qualified pharmacy technicians that would be able to answer correctly. These estimates were analyzed for consistency and averaged to produce the passing score. The passing score and all candidate results are reported as scaled scores. The passing scaled score for the updated PTCE is 1400, with a range of possible scores of 1000 to 1600.
Scaled Scores and Equating
The use of scaled scores is necessary because different forms of the PTCE are administered every year, and these forms may fluctuate slightly in difficulty. PTCB uses multiple forms containing different items to minimize item exposure and ensure the continuing relevance of test items. To ensure that the results of candidates taking two different forms are equivalent, PTCB uses a process known as statistical equating. Statistical equating is a process by which scores on different forms of the PTCE are calibrated onto a common scale. Equating ensures that candidates of comparable proficiency will be likely to obtain approximately the same scaled scores regardless of fluctuations in the overall difficulty level from one examination form to another.
Confidentiality of Scores Policy
Candidates must apply and pay for each PTCE attempt. Candidates who fail the PTCE must wait 60 days from the most recent attempt to apply for the second and third attempts, and 6 months for attempts thereafter. After four attempts, candidates must provide completion evidence of acceptable preparation activities to PTCB for review and approval before applying for additional attempts. Preparation activities completed prior to the most recent attempt will not be considered. Acceptable preparation activities include any of the following:
- Six months or more of tutoring by a pharmacist or PTCB CPhT (Attestation Form Required)
- Completion of a formal review course or non-accredited training program
- Completion of an ASHP/ACPE-accredited training program
- Graduation from a pharmacy technician associate degree (A.S.) program
Candidates are not limited to a finite number of exam attempts, although candidates are strongly encouraged to prepare for each attempt. The PTCE is a very reliable exam, which means that candidates who fail the exam should expect to fail again unless they increase their knowledge of the PTCE content through additional preparation.
The scoring methods used by PTCB are valid and accurate. However, if a failing score is received, candidates may request to have their results verified by hand. To request a hand score, candidates must submit the Hand Score Request Form along with the hand score fee of $50. PTCB will conduct a one-time manual review of the most recent examination attempt. PTCB will only review the candidate’s responses indicated during the examination.
Upon notification of exam results being available, candidates have 30 days to submit their hand score request. Payment for the hand score request must be in the form of a check or money order made payable to PTCB. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for hand score request results. Please note that the results of the hand score are final and will not include additional feedback regarding the candidate’s examination score.
It is important to note that hand scoring has never revealed a score discrepancy, and PTCB has never changed a result based on a hand score.
Exam Statistics and Pass Rates
As of December 31, 2016, PTCB has granted 618,408 pharmacy technician certifications since 1995 through the examination and transfer process. View data showing total examinations passed and pass rates by year.