Dec 16, 2012
Listen! If you have just taken the NAPLEX and waiting that dreaded 3 to 7 business days, or are yet to take it, I have a few things to say to you.

First, my story. I'm not an over-achiever, straight A student, PLS, yada yada. My graduating GPA literally just broke B average. P1 year I pretty much made straight A's, but then fell from glory by failing DEENT (of all things). From then on, I would struggle for B's and C's in the rest of therapeutics courses, not because I wasn't smart enough, but because starting to live real life in the real world is a real deal. None-the-less I always kept my passion and excitement for learning our profession (THAT is the most important thing). Flash forward to Conference/Seminar, after rotations, when the knowledge really started to sink in. I grinded and studied the drugs like no tomorrow. I loved it, and it all came together. Now being the slacker I was, I didn't realize (or somehow I missed) that I had to even register with the State Board to take the exams! I just registered mid-May and wasn't able to schedule NAPLEX and MPJE until early July. I ended up scheduling July 19 for NAPLEX (3 hour's drive away) and August 1 for MPJE (in my home city).

For the NAPLEX I studied on and off the 6 weeks prior to registration, and then daily to QOD, an hour or so, sometimes up to 3 hours at a time. Maybe totaling 30 hours of studying. The Friday before I drove to a nearby town where some relatives of mine live, and the weekend and day before I put in 2 to 3 hours a day of focused review. Come morning, I got up early 5 AM, and drove out of town an hour to the Pearson center. Walked in 7:30AM with full confidence and all my lucky charms ready to put in the locker, when I got quite the punch in the gut. I registered my name wrong!! Totally got turned away by Pearson. Totally had to pay $140 to re-sit the NAPLEX. Totally had to wait 5 business days to reschedule. What a blow. Not going to lie, I cried. New date August 5. (This time in my home city)

So I gathered my self together as much as I could to walk into the Pearson center again to sit the NAPLEX. So here goes. Question 1... ONCOLOGY. Wow... okay. Question 2.... same oncology case... and it went on for another 7 or 8 questions. O___O
Overall I had 25 to 30 oncology questions, 15 or so HIV questions, and about 5 hepatitis.
A worrisome few days, then come this afternoon I get my score... Overjoyed.

Here is my advice:
Number 1: Relax! You have spent 4 years learning this stuff! And if you really paid attention in school and on rotations, you really do know the material. It is now a matter of reviewing it and becoming well-versed and proficient in teasing our critical information. Which leads me to #2.

Number 2: The more difficult questions on the NAPLEX are case-based. Which means to you have tease our key information and make therapeutic decisions. When you are studying your drugs make sure you understand how they affect labs, their adverse effects, contraindications etc. in a practical manner. When you learn a concept, re-think it backwards, and then apply it to a hypothetical patient.

Number 3: Be STRONG in math. It is my belief that math is heavily weighed on the NAPLEX. Therapeutics and pharmacology knowledge can always be backed up by literature/resources. But math mistakes can kill the patient. Be very strong in math. Start your NAPLEX review with getting very good at all of the math topics in RxPrep (or Kaplan or whatever). Understand the math principles, what the numbers represent and what their manipulation mean. Focus on the units. What units are you working with and what units are you looking for. I'm serious, for the NAPLEX and your life profession, now is the time to solidify your math foundation... IV bags, drip rates, TPN, lab correction, mEq, CrCl, etc. Then, the day before the NAPLEX do nothing but math. Try not to review anything else (if you don't feel 100% on some topic by now, don't worry about it).

Number 4: Also, be strong in biostats! It's a decent part of the exam that once you understand the concepts should be some great gimmies! I think biostats is one of the most important topics because, just like with math, knowing how to think is critical to your profession and development as a professional.

And finally,
Number 5: This speaks to the hardest part that I faced on the NAPLEX. Cover everything. If you get to ID, or oncology, or some other obscure topic that you are not good at, spend the time to at least understand the concepts and definitely at MINIMUM know the brand/generic/class/MOA of the major drugs.

And now here is my encouragement: If you yourself feel you are qualified and competent, then you passed. This is what the NAPLEX tests. It is a complex computer-adaptive-test algorithm that has been fine tuned to really confront you and ask: are you competent enough to practice pharmacy?
You have strengths and weaknesses; and you have a solid foundation.

You got this.

I passed the NAPLEX, and so will you.
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