NAPLEX® Scoring Guide
Understanding NAPLEX Scores and Results
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination® (NAPLEX®) is a standardized, computer-based exam developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) to assist state Boards of Pharmacy in evaluating a candidate's pharmacy skills and knowledge for licensure as an entry-level pharmacist in the United States. Passing the NAPLEX is one of the many challenging steps required to become a licensed pharmacist.
This article provides information on the NAPLEX scoring process, NAPLEX and Pre-NAPLEX results, including performance reporting, and other commonly asked questions about how the exam is scored. This information is important and emphasizes why it is essential to create an efficient and effective NAPLEX study plan.
How is the NAPLEX scored?
As of January 2021, exam results are reported as "Pass" or "Fail," with no numerical score provided. The "pass" threshold is based on the exam's long-standing, validated scaled score cut point of 75, which indicates that the minimum competency to practice pharmacy independently has been met.
The NABP provides a performance report with additional information on all competency areas when a candidate receives a "fail" result.
Why did the NABP stop reporting numerical scores?
The NABP stopped reporting numerical scores after their last standard-setting exercise (i.e., competency statement revisions and determination of passing standards). The rationale is that the test determines whether a candidate is “competent” or “not competent” for entry-level practice. Therefore, a “pass” (competent) or “fail” (not competent) result is valid, while a numerical score is not (numerical scores are not supported by the evidence when analyzing the purpose of the exam).
Why do some candidates still receive a numerical NAPLEX score while others do not?
Currently, the NABP releases results, including a numerical score, to the board of pharmacy for the state designated on the candidate's NAPLEX application. It is up to each state board whether or not to share numerical results with test-takers in their state; most states do not share their candidates' numerical scores. Candidates from some areas will still receive a numerical score, but this is much less common than the “pass” or “fail” result.
What are the topics on the NAPLEX and how are they distributed?
The NAPLEX Competency Statements outline the general practice areas that will be covered on the 225-item exam. They provide crucial information about the knowledge, judgment, and skills that an entry-level pharmacist is expected to demonstrate. A solid understanding of the competency statements and their distribution on the exam will help you prepare. The following table gives you a broad overview of the six competency areas tested and the proportion of questions to expect in each area.
|Area||Topic||% of Test|
|Area 1||Obtain, Interpret, or Assess Data,
Medical, or Patient Information
|Area 2||Identify Drug Characteristics||14%|
|Area 3||Develop or Manage Treatment Plans||35%|
|Area 4||Perform Calculations||14%|
|Area 5||Compound, Dispense, or Administer Drugs,
or Manage Delivery Systems
|Area 6||Develop or Manage Practice or Medication
-Use Systems to Ensure Safety and Quality
How many people pass the NAPLEX?
NABP publishes annual pass rates for the NAPLEX on its website. Following are the pass rates for graduates of programs that have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education® (ACPE®) between 2019 and 2022.
How to check your NAPLEX results?
By submitting an application for the NAPLEX, you authorize NABP to release your exam results to your state's pharmacy board. Unless NABP has withheld or invalidated your exam results, NABP will forward them to the board from which you are seeking licensure, as well as any jurisdiction to which you have requested NAPLEX score transfer.
The majority of states upload NAPLEX results to the candidate's NABP e-Profile. Candidates can access their results by logging into their profile and selecting the “Exam Services” and “Exam Results” tabs. Candidates with a failed exam result can access their Candidate Performance Report in their e-Profile by clicking "View Report" under the "Exam Results" tab. This report will include additional information about the candidate's performance.
Candidates attempting to obtain a license in California, Guam, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, and the Virgin Islands will receive their results directly from the board of pharmacy or governing body of that state or territory (typically by mail).
How long does it take to get your NAPLEX results?
The majority of candidates will receive NAPLEX results around seven business days after taking their exam. Exam results are available in your NABP e-Profile for the majority of states. Waiting times may differ for candidates from states that do not participate in the NABP's online exam results interface.
What happens if a candidate fails the NAPLEX?
Candidates who receive a “fail” result on the NAPLEX can access their Candidate Performance Report in their e-Profile to see details about their performance. This report was developed to assist test-takers by providing a breakdown of achievement levels within each competency area. Candidates can use the report to improve their preparation (and thus their chances of success) for future NAPLEX attempts.
What details are provided in the NAPLEX candidate performance report?
The report provides feedback on the candidate's performance in each of the six NAPLEX competency areas.
Performance in each area is rated using one of the following descriptors:
- Far below meeting the minimum performance
- Does not meet the minimum performance
- Meets the minimum performance
- Exceeds the minimum performance
How often can the NAPLEX be taken?
Individuals who fail the NAPLEX may retake the exam up to five times, contingent upon eligibility determination by the state board of pharmacy. That is, some states may allow fewer attempts, but no state allows more than five. Candidates are allowed a maximum of three attempts per 12-month period, which will require reapplying and paying the appropriate application fees again.
Eligibility must be confirmed by the state board of pharmacy to which the candidate is applying. The candidate must wait 45 days to reapply—this is the mandatory waiting period set by NABP. If a candidate fails all three attempts, they will be required to wait at least 12 months from the first attempt to try again.
Can a NAPLEX score be transferred?
The NAPLEX score transfer program expedites the transfer of exam results to multiple states where candidates wish to obtain a pharmacy license. If you participate in the score transfer program, your exam result will be applicable to the licensure requirements of the selected states. The state boards of pharmacy have sole discretion over licensing decisions.
NAPLEX Score Transfer Process
The NAPLEX score transfer program allows quick score transferrals to multiple boards of pharmacy in states where candidates wish to obtain pharmacy licensure. Candidates can purchase NAPLEX score transfers at the time the exam is purchased or at any time up to 89 days after taking the exam. Each score transfer request costs $75.
Transfers of scores will be processed whether or not you pass the NAPLEX exam. You must purchase a new transfer request if you retake the exam and wish to transfer your score again.
How long is a score transfer valid?
The duration of score transfer validity differs from location to location. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands allow NAPLEX score transfers. However, it is advisable to contact individual state boards of pharmacy for additional information (e.g., current board fees, updated participation information).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Historically, NAPLEX results were reported numerically as a scaled score, with the passing score set at 75. However, effective January 2021, NABP moved to a “pass” or “fail” scoring system. In other words, the NABP no longer discloses numerical scores to applicants. Instead, applicants are notified that their result is either “pass” or “fail.”
The exam has 225 questions, but only 200 are used to calculate the exam result. The other 25 questions are experimental and do not affect your exam result. You will not know which questions these are as they are interspersed throughout the exam, so treat every question as if it counts. The final result is based on a scaled score, not the “total correct answers.”
Since the majority of individuals who take the NAPLEX no longer receive a numerical score, there are no statistics regarding “average” scores.