Each year, the NABP composes a list of MPJE pass rates for each school and college of pharmacy in the United States and compares these results to previous years. While the goal is to observe an upward and promising trend in pass rates, the data obtained between 2017-2019 indicates otherwise, as illustrated in the figure below. Cumulative pass rates across the United States have declined from 83.98% to 81.9% over the last couple of years and while the difference may not appear significant, any outcome that does not demonstrate improvement is unfavorable and must be addressed.
What could be the result for the decline in performance? Increased burnout? Increased competition? Poor pharmacy coverage of law? Regardless what the case may be, studying for the MPJE is a tedious process. You may not know what to do or where to begin; however, there are many tips and resources that may be useful to make you feel more prepared for your upcoming exam.
There are no shortcuts and a lot of time and effort must be devoted to preparing. In this article, we attempt to help you understand the highlights of the MPJE and how to pass it the first time.
Know what the exam is about.
The MPJE requires a passing score of 75% or higher. It is constructed as a 2.5-hour exam that is composed of 120 questions with three areas of focus, including:
- Pharmacy practice (83%)
- Licensure, registration, certification, and operational requirements (15%)
- General regulatory requirements (3%)
The exam aims to assess an individual’s competency by testing their knowledge and skills in evaluating situations and applying relevant federal and state laws. Knowing the build-up of the exam can be a useful marker in indicating how much time should be devoted to each section. A greater breakdown of each area of focus can be found on NABP’s website here. All questions are in multiple choice, select all that apply, K-type (I only, II and III, or I, II, and III), and ranking format. Be prepared to choose the best answer(s).
Use appropriate study materials.
Unlike preparing for the NAPLEX, which is typically associated with review of one extensive guide, preparation for the MPJE is a little different in that it does not have its own “go-to” guide. RxPharmacist noticed this concern and took action by erasing the dilemma of what resource to use. Here are some tools to help you pass on your first try:
- Both the state laws and rules can be found on your Board of Pharmacy website. We recommend going to your Board of Pharmacy website first, and if you need help, then pursue study guides as another resource.
- If you choose to review all the content on the Board’s website, be sure to take notes while you read. The material can be quite extensive as a whole but reducing it into your own writing will serve as an excellent source when the time comes to do your final review before your exam.
- RxPharmacist provides detailed study guides (in both online and print format) that target key points the MPJE generally focuses on. These comprehensive guides cover both federal and state pharmacy law while providing plenty of questions for practice. To see if a guide is available for your state, check out all the courses provided here.
- Guide to Federal Pharmacy Law, 9th Edition provides an excellent review of federal law applicable to the exam. The limited use of legal jargon allows for a smoother read while focusing on the most pertinent information.
Whether you choose to study all the material from your Board of Pharmacy’s website or purchase a study guide for a smoother ride, there are a series of topics that must be focused on and highlighted, such as the following:
- Prescription/labeling requirements
- Controlled substances
- DEA forms
- Classification of controlled substances
- Prescribing authority and filling
- Emergency/partial fills
- Continuing education
- Drug utilization reviews
- Adulterated vs. misbranded
- LTCF/hospice facilities
- Emergency kits
Practice, Practice, and Practice!
It’s one thing to study all the material, but it’s an entirely different element to apply all the content you learned to patient scenarios. You won’t realize how challenging it is to distinguish between multiple answer choices until you practice, and thus application is crucial. Some of the highlighted study material listed above can provide you with practice questions; however, additional resources to maximize your practice can be found on NABP’s website.
Another great way to test yourself is with the use of flash cards!
- Create a schedule and routine for yourself. Every person is different, thus being aware of your study habits is critical in allowing yourself appropriate time to prepare.
- Remember to put aside your biased work experience and not depend on everything you see during your workdays such as in the retail pharmacy setting. Sometimes there are differences between what the law states and what your company’s policy is.
- As the exam does not specify between state and federal law, always pick whichever law is stricter.
Keep in mind the questions on the MPJE can be detailed and require thorough reading. Be sure to not rush through the exam and be mindful of what the question is asking.
Sam Tamjidi, PharmD
References: MPJE Score Results. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://nabp.pharmacy/programs/mpje/score-results/