Your Comprehensive NAPLEX® Exam Guide

Everything you need to know about the NAPLEX

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What is the NAPLEX?

NAPLEX stands for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination®. It is a high-stakes exam pharmacy graduates must take and pass to obtain the required license to practice pharmacy in the United States.

What is the purpose of the NAPLEX?

The NAPLEX is one component for pharmacy licensure, designed to evaluate the competencies of graduates by assessing their understanding of concepts essential to the practice of pharmacy.

When can I apply for the NAPLEX?

You can only schedule your exam once you have met all graduation requirements and your state board of pharmacy has confirmed your eligibility to test. Most students begin applying as they get close to completing pharmacy school—within a few months of their expected graduation date. If you are a foreign graduate, you can apply once you have earned your Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee (FPGEC®) Certification. To learn more about applying for the NAPLEX, review our article, Everything You Need To Know About NAPLEX Application and Test Day.

How do I apply for the NAPLEX?

You must apply for the NAPLEX by completing the eligibility application process. For more information on applying for the NAPLEX, review the NABP bulletin.

Can I take the NAPLEX before graduation?

To be eligible to take the NAPLEX, you must have graduated from an accredited College of Pharmacy or obtained your FPGEC Certification (for foreign graduates). In some states, you may begin your application within a few months of your expected graduation date but can only schedule the exam after your eligibility is confirmed. You do have the option of taking the Pre-NAPLEX before graduation.

Can I take the NAPLEX before completing an internship?

As part of your eligibility requirements, you must have filed a minimum number of required internship hours with your state board of pharmacy before you can attempt the NAPLEX. For most states, that number is 1,500, but it can vary from one state board to another.

Should I take NAPLEX or MPJE first?

While most pharmacy graduates choose to take the NAPLEX first, you can take either exam in any order. The reason students tend to take the NAPLEX first is the material tested is fresh in their minds since they recently completed their program.

What is on the NAPLEX?

The NAPLEX blueprint covers various subjects, but the exam tests topics from the following competency statements.
Competency Statement Percent Allocation
Obtain, Interpret, or Assess Data, Medical, or Patient Information 18%
Identify Drug Characteristics 14%
Develop or Manage Treatment Plans 35%
Perform Calculations 14%
Compound, Dispense, or Administer Drugs, or Manage Delivery Systems 11%
Develop or Manage Practice or Medication-Use Systems to Ensure Safety and Quality 7%

Is the NAPLEX tough?

While passing rates tend to be high (81.82% in 2020), the NAPLEX is NOT an easy exam. It requires dedicated, focused studying to join the ranks of students who pass on their first attempt.

How hard is it to pass the NAPLEX?

Pass rates vary year over year and from school to school, but the NAPLEX is an intensive exam. You should make sure you thoroughly prepare to optimize your chances of passing the test. With recent pass rates above 81%, you stand a good chance of succeeding.

How many hours is the NAPLEX?

You will have a total of six hours to complete the NAPLEX. This can be exhausting, so make sure you practice in the same conditions you will face on exam day, taking only the standard two 10-minute breaks you will be allowed in the test center. You do have the option of taking unscheduled breaks, but that time will count against your total time allotted for the exam.

Can you pass the NAPLEX without studying?

It is possible to pass such a rigorous exam as the NAPLEX without studying, but with stakes this high (if you fail, you cannot practice pharmacy), we wouldn’t recommend it. Even the brightest students would need to polish their knowledge of concepts learned in pharmacy school before attempting the exam. We recommend studying with the right pharmacy board review to give yourself the best chance to pass the NAPLEX.

When should I start studying for the NAPLEX?

While some students find three to six weeks from the exam date a sufficient window to study for the NAPLEX, we encourage you to start studying early to make sure you are thoroughly prepared. Cramming for the exam will likely only add unnecessary stress and anxiety to your experience. Instead, it is wise to study at your own pace over an extended period to retain the information over the long term, so consider starting your studies 6-12 months before the exam. For some perspective, check out our UWorld RxPrep 6-12 Month Study Review Schedule.

How long does it take to study for the NAPLEX?

Some students find that studying for the NAPLEX for one month is enough to pass, although we recommend studying over a longer period. It ultimately depends on how confident you feel about the concepts tested on the exam, which will reflect what you learned in pharmacy school. It also depends on your unique circumstances; if you have a busier work schedule than most, you will probably need more time to study than the average pharmacy graduate.

How do I prepare for the NAPLEX?

Many schools provide a schedule for their students, and we recommend that you follow the one assigned by your institution. However, for those students who don’t have a preset schedule from their school, creating one you can stick to and preparing with the right review course will put you in a position to succeed.

Consider using the UWorld RxPrep NAPLEX online course, pharmacy students’ #1 trusted resource, to prepare for the pharmacy licensure exam. Below is a quick guide to studying with the RxPrep NAPLEX course book:

  • Take the two free assessment tests: Begin by taking the free assessment tests at (you must register and create an account to access these assessments). If you have online course access, you can find these tests within the “Preparing for NAPLEX with RxPrep” topic on your e-Learning page. The assessments are important to determine if you are ready to jump into NAPLEX preparation or require remediation in basic math skills and/or basic drug information, such as brand and generic drug names.
  • Create a study plan: Our RxPrep pharmacists have organized the course book topics based on the time it usually takes to complete them to help you create your study plan (see How to ACE Your Exams). You can find sample study schedules and templates at Sample Study Schedules.
  • Study clinical and math chapters: Decide if you know a topic well by reviewing the chapter in the course book. If you know the chapter well, complete a quick review and proceed to the test bank(s) for that topic without skipping any. If you don’t know the chapter well (or score less than 70% in a test bank), read the chapter while watching the video for the chapter and following along with the instructor, highlighting the information you will need to review before attempting the matching test bank questions.
  • Take the RxPrep NAPLEX practice exam: After you’ve reviewed the material and feel confident that you’ve retained the concepts, test your readiness by taking our NAPLEX practice exam.

What happens if I fail the NAPLEX?

In most states, you may take the NAPLEX a maximum of five times, but you must wait 45 days before each attempt. Before you receive your ATT to schedule your exam, the board must first reconfirm your eligibility. There is also a waiting period that limits students to three tries in 12 months.

How often is the NAPLEX offered?

The NAPLEX is offered year-round, depending on scheduling availability at your desired Pearson VUE testing center.

How is the NAPLEX scored?

The NAPLEX uses a Pass/Fail scoring system, meaning you will not receive a scaled score. 

Does your NAPLEX score expire?

You may transfer your NAPLEX score from one jurisdiction to another within 89 days of taking the exam. Note that there is a $75 fee for each score transfer per jurisdiction.
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Prepare for the NAPLEX With RxPrep

As an industry leader in pharmacy licensure exam preparation, we pride ourselves in developing only the highest-quality study materials to help you pass the NAPLEX. Learn more about our UWorld RxPrep NAPLEX Online Course.

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Gain More Insights Into the NAPLEX

To ensure that you prepare confidently for your pharmacy board exams, we proudly bring you our dedicated blog covering everything you need to know about the NAPLEX, MPJE, and your pharmacy school journey. View our blog now!

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