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Most Common PTCB Exam Questions!

May 10th, 2022
most common ptcb exam questions

PTCB Practice Test MCQs

The more PTCB practice exam questions you practice, the better. Test questions afford students the opportunity to not only learn from their mistakes but also plug any gaps in their knowledge – a win-win situation.

Today, that is precisely what we will focus on – 5 of the most common PTCB exam questions – their style and complete explained answers. The purpose of these questions is not to establish what you know – but what you do not know.

It is only through identifying our weaknesses that we can work on those weaknesses to turn them into strengths. There are no advantages to disproportionately spending more time on subjects you prefer. If you know the subject, you know it. Spending more time on that subject only prevents you from spending more time on the subjects you find difficult, or have not yet studied at all – perhaps because you think they may be difficult, or perhaps you prematurely believe those subjects to be boring.

If you do find subjects “boring” or “irrelevant”, that itself is a problem.

After all, pharmacy technicians are expected to have this knowledge and – as an aspiring pharmacy technician – it is incumbent upon you to learn this material as it is relevant to your career, even if you do not find it immediately relevant to your study now.

Math is relevant. Laws are relevant. Accuracy is relevant. Pharmacology is relevant.

It’s all relevant.

And it’s precisely that relevance that should energize and motivate your study to become the best possible pharmacy technician in your state.

Practicing PTCB exam questions are an important part of that process. Questions are an important tool to tease out the detail – and it’s the detail that gets tested. Below, we review five sample PTCB practice test questions.

Before you read the explained answers, attempt to answer each question first. That way, you can learn from your mistakes and be sure never to repeat the same mistake again.

MCQ 1 – Brand Questions!

What is the active ingredient of the medicine, Zantac?

  1. Cetirizine
  2. Zolpidem
  3. Omeprazole
  4. Ranitidine

Brand and generic drug names are among the most common PTCB exam questions.

Whilst students are not expected to know all medicines, they are expected to know the most common brands and generic drugs. The four drugs listed in this question are examples of common drugs.

One of the problems with brand names is that many of them sound similar.

For example – Zantac and Zyrtec.

Ranitidine is the active ingredient of Zantac – a medicine used in the treatment of excess gastric acid production such as dyspepsia (indigestion) and GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Cetirizine is the active ingredient of Zyrtec; an antihistamine.

You may also be confused by the two remaining answers. Omeprazole has a similar clinical function to ranitidine, in that it reduces gastric acid production. However, omeprazole belongs to the proton-pump class of medicines. Prilosec is one of the most common brand names of omeprazole. Proton-pump inhibitors can be identified as they always contain the suffix –prazole.

Zolpidem is a member of the Z-drug class of medicines; non-benzodiazepines used in the short-term treatment of insomnia. Many students who do not know the answer to this question will have chosen zolpidem as the correct answer because its first letter resembles that of the medicine, Zantac. However, zolpidem is thrown in as a distraction, in the hope that students will erroneously choose it.

Therefore, there are four take-home points:

  • The need to know common brand and generic names.
  • The ability to distinguish medicines that look and sound the same.
  • To eliminate distraction answers, if possible.
  • To understand different mechanisms of action to treat the same condition.

For the 2020 PTCB syllabus, Medications is 40 percent of the exam – including brand and generic drugs, pharmacology, NTI medicines, side effects, drug interactions and much more.

MCQ 2 – Pharmacy Calculations!

A pharmacy technician is asked to dispense 250mL of medicine, each dose of which must contain 15mg/5mL. How many milligrams of drug is required to meet the needs of this prescription?

  1. 75mg
  2. 150mg
  3. 375mg
  4. 750mg

Pharmacy calculations are among the most common PTCB exam questions asked on the test. Pharmacy technician students are frequently recommended to learn sets of equations when answering pharmacy calculations.

At PTCB Test Prep, we recommend a different approach.

Equations are only useful if:

  • The student understands why the equation works.
  • The student understands how to use the equation.

If pharmacy technician students “memorize” equations and “plug” in values without really thinking it through, they do not understand the topic. If a slightly different question appears, the student may not have the ability to answer the question. They have become too reliant on “memorizing” equations that they are ill prepared to work out novel or different problems.

Equations are only useful if students know how and why the equation works in the way it has been produced. Memorization techniques such as this are among the most unreliable way to answer pharmacy calculations. Instead, students should try to reason through the problem and work it out from a distant, rational perspective. By doing this, it gives students two ways to answer the question: first, independently without any equation and, secondly, to use any equations to confirm the answer they have originally arrived at.

Let’s reason through the above problem, rather than use an equation.

The question tells us to prepare 250mL of medicine.

Each 5mL teaspoon of this medicine contains 15mg of drug (hence 15mg/5mL).

If each 5mL teaspoon contains 15mg, then 50mL must contain 150mg – and, by extension – 250mL must contain 750mg. We are simply slowly multiplying the values up.

Therefore, the 250mL medicine contains 750mg of drug. This means that each 5mL of the 250mL solution contains 15mg of drug. There are 50 doses, then, in the medicine.

When the patient is at home and uses 5mL per day, it means there are 50 days supply for the patient to use.

Again, rather than using equations to begin with, it is better for students to work out these problems so that concepts are understood.

Once concepts are understood, equations can be used to fast-track the process. Students unsure if they are correct about a problem should always use both methods. If both methods arrive at the correct answer, you can safely assume that you have worked out the correct answer.

Pharmacy calculations make up an important component of the Order Entry and Processing knowledge domain – comprising part of 21.25% of all PTCB test MCQs.

MCQ 3 – Food and Drug Interactions!

Patients taking statins are counselled to avoid foods or drink that contain which of these?

  1. Grapefruit juice
  2. Tyramine-rich foods
  3. Milk or antacids
  4. Green, leafy vegetables

Food and drug interactions are commonly asked MCQs on the PTCB exam.

Again, pharmacy technicians are not expected to know all food and drug interactions – not least because there are many thousands upon thousands. However, technicians are expected to know the most common examples – and why these foods and drinks interact with drugs in the way that they do.

In this PTCB practice test question, we have asked about one of the most common drug interactions – statins with grapefruit juice. Many drugs rely on liver enzymes to break down and metabolize drugs, meaning this waste can be safely eliminated from the body. However, some foods, such as grapefruit juice, prevent these enzymes from breaking down certain drugs – including statins. Because statins are not broken down, their level can rise to toxic levels in the body – increasing the risk of serious side effects such as muscle breakdown and rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to kidney failure.

Though grapefruit juice is the correct answer, the other three answers are highly relevant when it comes to drug and food interactions.

For example:

  • Tyramine-rich foods must be avoided in patients taking MAO inhibitors, to prevent the risk of serotonin syndrome.
  • Milk/antacids must be avoided in patients taking tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, bisphosphonates, and levothyroxine – where they can bind to and reduce the efficacy of these drug classes.
  • Green-leafy vegetables must be limited in patients taking warfarin – an anticoagulant drug. Green-leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin K, which is a pro-clotting nutrient. Therefore, green-leafy vegetables – such as broccoli and kale – reduce the anticoagulant effects of warfarin and increase the risk of blood clots.

PTCB practice test questions routinely ask about these common drug and food interactions, so it is worth your time committing these interactions to memory.

MCQ 4 – Federal Legislation!

Which of these DEA forms must be used by pharmacies when ordering Schedule II controlled substances?

  • DEA Form 41
  • DEA Form 106
  • DEA Form 222
  • DEA Form 224

Controlled substances are among the most common PTCB exam questions tested.

Controlled substances have abuse potential, and so the amount dispensed and their availability to the public must be tightly controlled. There are five schedules of controlled substances. Schedule I drugs have the highest abuse potential, whereas Schedule V drugs have the lowest abuse potential.

Students should know all relevant DEA Forms. The DEA – or Drug Enforcement Administration – is the agency responsible for combating controlled substance use and distribution.

In this question, DEA Form 222 must be used by pharmacies when ordering Schedule II controlled drugs. In terms of the remaining three answers, pharmacy technicians should also know their function:

  • DEA Form 41used when recording controlled drugs that are destroyed.
  • DEA Form 106 used when a controlled substance is lost or stolen.
  • DEA Form 224 used when a pharmacy seeks to register as a licensed dispenser of controlled drugs.

Federal legislation comprises 12.5% of PTCB exam questions.

Take your time to learn the necessary DEA forms and legislation that pharmacy technicians are expected to know.

MCQ 5 – Patient Safety and Quality Assurance!

Which of the following decimal notations is the most appropriate way to represent five milligrams?

  • 5mg
  • 5 mg
  • 5.0 mg
  • 5.00mg

In this PTCB practice test question, it explores the concept of leading and trailing zeros, a small part of a wider topic on prescription error prevention strategies.

Pharmacy technicians should have a detailed knowledge of error prevention strategies – not only for the exam but also for real-life practice, too. Small changes in dose can, for some medicines, produce a harmful clinical outcome – particularly in the context of narrow-therapeutic index drugs. As pharmacy technicians, attention to detail and accuracy are among the most important skills you can have.

For the remaining three answers, we must remember the following rule: namely, to never leave trailing zeros from whole numbers.

In the case of 5.0, the decimal and zero are “trailing” the 5 and they are entirely unnecessary. The decimal point increases the risk of prescription error because it may inadvertently be read as 50mg. It should only be written as 5 mg. Note the space between the 5 and mg — as the m in 5mg may be misread as a 0. Always write 5 mg – and never 5mg.

Conversely, a prescription for .5mg should always have a lead zero: 0.5mg – otherwise it may be misinterpreted as 5mg.

This is just one of many prescription error prevention strategies to know – but it is nonetheless an important one to keep in mind.

Final Thoughts

Here, we have discussed some of the most common PTCB exam questions. In our review, we have talked about:

  • Brand questions
  • Pharmacy calculation questions
  • Drug interaction questions
  • Federal legislation questions
  • Patient safety and quality assurance questions

The PTCB examination has 90 questions, and many of these questions will be sourced from these five topics. Of course, there is much more to learn – and many more PTCB practice questions to work through.

Studies show that the more practice questions you take, the better your result on exam day. Answering questions is as much about getting the question wrong as it is about getting it right. Whilst choosing a correct answer is satisfying, it doesn’t help you learn.

Only wrong answers can fill that gap – and any gaps in your knowledge.

By applying the strategies and techniques discussed here, you take a significant step forward to maximizing your result on the day of your PTCB exam.

And when you become a qualified pharmacy technician, it will have been well worth the effort.

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PTCB Test Prep Author


Elaine Walker

Elaine joined PTCB Test Prep in 2017, currently serving as the lead product development manager overseeing both course development and quality improvement. Mrs. Walker is a graduate of California State University and has worked as a pharmacy technician for over twenty years – with particular interests in pediatric pharmacy, extemporaneous compounding, and hospital pharmacy. Over the past 8-years, she has helped prepare thousands of students for the PTCB examination.