Examination Design and Style
Most of the style conventions of the Qualifying Examination will become evident as you work through the sample questions and stations on the website.
Questions about drugs are based on issues that are relevant to practice, and include those most commonly prescribed or those recommended for use in a certain situation.
Abbreviations and symbols used will be those an entry-level pharmacy technician should recognize and will be written in accordance with SI and other health care publications.
Style Conventions - Part I (MCQ)
SI Units, Drug Names and Language
The answers in calculation questions and the majority of values presented will be in SI (metric) units. However, you may be required to convert from the avoirdupois or apothecary systems before performing your calculation in instances where the conversion factor should be commonly known by an entry-level pharmacy technician (e.g., pounds to kilograms).
Generally a drug will be referred to by its generic or common name. In those instances where a specific trade name is used, its generic or common name will also generally be given.
Negative words, such as NOT, NEVER, and EXCEPT are capitalized and printed in boldface, in order to draw your attention to the kind of response expected.
EXAMPLE: All of the following statements are correct, EXCEPT:
In the English language (including Canadian English documents), a period is generally used as a decimal separator. EXAMPLE: two and four-tenths is represented by “2.4″.
In Canadian French documents, a comma is used as a decimal separator.
EXAMPLE: two and four-tenths is represented by “2,4″.
For formatting and consistency purposes, some numbers on the examination may include a decimal point with a trailing zero (e.g., 5.0). In practice, the use of a trailing zero is strongly discouraged by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, due to the risk of misinterpretation.
In the English language (including Canadian English documents), a comma is generally used as a thousands separator. For example, two thousand five hundred is represented by “2,500″.
Sometimes no thousands separator is seen, for example, “2500″.
Often, when there are two numbers to the left of the thousands separator, a space is used. For example, twelve thousand five hundred may be represented by “12 500″.
In Canadian French documents, a space is used as a thousands separator, for example “2 500″.
PEBC has tried to standardize the numeric format on written examinations to use a comma as a thousands separator; however, as noted in various medical references, the other previously mentioned formats may also be seen.
In Summary: two thousand = 2,000 = 2000 = 2 000
Any relevant formulas will be provided with the questions in the computer-based Part I (MCQ) exam and therefore do not need to be memorized.
Standardized PEBC Calculators
A scientific calculator will be made available on the computer. Here is the on-screen Calculator Layout.
Format of Examination Questions - Part I (MCQ)
The Pharmacy Technician Qualifying Examination – Part I (MCQ) consists entirely of multiple-choice questions. You will be required to select the best answer from the responses listed. In some questions, you may believe there is a better answer than those provided. You should always mark the answer that is best among the responses that accompany the question.
Classic Single-Answer Question (Type A)
This type of question requires that you answer a question or complete a statement by choosing a single correct response of those provided, as in the following example:
According to the Narcotic Control Regulations of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which of the following practitioners may NOT prescribe narcotic drugs?
b. Nurse Practitioners
Many questions on the examination are in the format of cases or scenarios that may be encountered by pharmacy technicians in practice. These questions require the application of knowledge and judgement in selecting the single BEST response of those provided. The example below illustrates the thought process for deciding the BEST response for this type of question:
RD presents a prescription for levothyroxine 0.25 mg po once daily to the pharmacy technician. RD is new to the pharmacy but has had this drug before. The most appropriate initial pharmacy technician action is to:
a. dispense as 25 mcg tablets once daily. [this is incorrect as 0.25 mg is not the same as 25 mcg]
b. dispense as 125 mcg tablets, take 2 tablets once daily. [this would not be an appropriate initial action as levothyroxine 0.25 mg is an unusually high dose and should be investigated before dispensing]
c. contact the prescriber. [this would not be the most appropriate initial action as RD has taken this drug before and may be able to provide information on previous dosing]
d. confirm the previous dose with patient. [this is the most appropriate initial action as RD has taken levothyroxine before and may be able to provide information on previous dosing]
A selection of examples of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) is found in the Sample Questions section.
These examples are representative of the question format and phrasing style used in the examination, and the content of these sample questions is intended to illustrate a variety of the competency areas tested within the examination blueprint.