The NAPLEX, also known as the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, is a standard examination created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to help individual state boards of pharmacy assess an individual’s competency and knowledge so that he or she may be given a license to practice.d

The NAPLEX is exclusively a computer-administered exam. After receiving an authorization to test from NABP, applicants must register with an official testing facility, such as Pearson_VUE, at least two business days in advance to schedule a testing appointment. The exam consists of 185 questions and has a time limit of four hours and fifteen minutes, with an optional ten-minute break after approximately two hours. Of the 185 questions, only 150 are used to tabulate the applicant’s score. The remaining 35 are “trial balloon” questions under consideration for inclusion on future NAPLEX tests. There is no way to distinguish a regular test question from a trial balloon.

The NAPLEX is an adaptive examination in that it tailors itself to the skill level of the applicant. Because of the linear nature of the exam (applicants must answer a question to continue, and there is no backtracking), the computer is able to zero-in on incorrect responses and select similar questions for presentation later in the exam. This allows for analyzation of the applicants’ skill level across several performance categories.

The exam format consists primarily of multiple choice questions; there are no essay questions. The questions are split between two subtypes: a question with five individual ploys, or the K-Type, which consist of a question and three options numbered I, II and III, then five combinations of these options.

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