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How Do I Interpret My NAPLEX® Results?

By Natalie M. Smith
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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To interpret your North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination® (NAPLEX®) results, locate your numerical score and review any diagnostic reports that are included. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the body that develops and governs the NAPLEX®, uses a zero to 150 scale to determine your score. You must score a 75 or above to pass; an unsatisfactory score comes with a diagnostic report indicating your performance in major competency areas. Scoreless NAPLEX® results mean that you failed to complete the exam.

The numerical score you receive in your NAPLEX® results is neither the number nor percentage of items you answered correctly. Instead, your score is scaled between zero and 150, so the minimum passing score of 75 does not necessarily correspond to having correctly answered 50% of the exam items. Similar to other developers of standardized tests and entrance exams, the NABP does not reveal the special algorithms that are used to determine your score. It is stated, however, that your score reflects your ability level, as well as how it compares to the minimum level required to pass.

Your NAPLEX® results can also reflect whether or not you completed the test. The exam includes 185 items, and, if you answer at least 162 but fewer than 185, then your score might be lower than you expect because there is penalty based on the number of items you did not answer. If you answered less than 162 items, then your NAPLEX® results will not list a score, and you must retake the test.

Should your NAPLEX® results include a diagnostic report, this indicates a failing score, which is less than the required 75. While further review of exam items is not permitted by the NABP, a diagnostic report indicates your relative performance in the major competency areas that are assessed on the NAPLEX®. Such information can help you to study more effectively as you prepare to retake the NAPLEX®.

Passing the NAPLEX® is one of the many challenging steps to becoming a practicing pharmacist. It measures your knowledge of the pharmacy field, and boards of pharmacy use your NAPLEX® results to determine your readiness for licensure and entry-level pharmacy work. Seven business days after your exam date, you can typically view your scores on the NABP's official website or receive them via the state board from which you are seeking licensure. Your results are also forwarded to those state boards of pharmacy that you select.

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Discussion Comments

By anon282587 — On Jul 30, 2012

Getting into a pharmacy school is tough. The first year after my daughter meet the pre-requisites, she could not get an interview. The second year she got one (out of three schools applied) and got in. She may have had help from a local affiliate but we never found that out. It is very competitive.

The best way is to start early in a dual admissions program. It eliminates all that competition if you keep grades up. But that will not be a walk in the park either. Doctorate level Pharmacy is heavy duty science and you still have to pass boards. Unless you are a natural genius, you will study your brains out, and if you are weak in math/science it will be exposed.

You will be competing with the best and brightest, and with international students. My daughter had tons of practical experience which helped on rotations and such. But school and NAPLEX is mostly book stuff, with little emphasis on the practical. Some of those brainy students are totally clueless in the workplace but that's the way it is. She just took the NAPLEX today - we will see.

By anon275726 — On Jun 19, 2012

If you don't finish at least 162 questions on the NAPLEX, then the score is not reported. Does anyone know how long you have to wait to reschedule the exam? Do you wait for another three months?

By everetra — On Jul 24, 2011

@allenJo - It’s too bad that your wife didn’t get into school.

Personally I’ve had no ambition to get into the healthcare field in any capacity and I don’t discount the fact that the NAPLEX exam is probably hard, but nowadays there are all sorts of test taking materials that can help you along in just about anything.

In addition to the sample test books you mentioned, I am sure that you can find a NAPLEX review course in your area that can help you out.

I work as a software developer and I’ve taken a bunch of simulator exams to pass certifications for the language that I program in, and they helped me a lot. I was able to get certified and land a decent paying job as a result.

By allenJo — On Jul 23, 2011

My wife works as a pharmacy technician, but a few years back she wanted to become a pharmacist. She already had a degree in biochemistry and had to take some additional classes in the community college.

Anyway, she applied for pharmacy school and took all of the necessary exams, and eventually went before the board of admissions. You have to interview to even be considered for admission.

Unfortunately, she never got accepted. It’s a tough field to break into and there’s a lot of competition.

Of course she never had to take the NAPLEX exam because she didn’t get into the school, but she was aware of it, in addition to all of the other exams related to entering a pharmacy career.

You can get a book of practice tests if you want to prepare. But my point is that if getting into pharmacy school is as hard as my wife found out, you can bet that taking the NAPLEX exam is harder.

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