Study Tips: NAPLEX

Hi all! It’s about that time. I graduated with my PharmD ~1 week ago. Now, it’s time to really crack down on studying for the NAPLEX/MPJE. However, if any of you know me, you know I’ve been slowly studying all throughout P4 year. Also, my school provided a required 1-month NAPLEX review course prior to graduation. With all of these things coming together, I feel very prepared for the NAPLEX. Here’s a few important tips and tricks for those of you trying to figure out how to study for this BEAST of an exam.

Which Program?

Personally, I absolutely LOVE RxPrep! I feel like they really highlight the important information and really had everything down in a reader-friendly book. However, I’m aware that it is a pretty pricey program (my school provided it for us).

There are a ton of other programs out there, that could be more suited to your price range. I would do more research to determine which program would be the most beneficial for you.

Timeline

Most people feel that it is adequate to take 1 month to study for the NAPLEX, however, if you have the time, I feel like it is important to review the material as you go through P4 APPE rotations in order to ensure that you are as prepared as possible.

If you’re running low on time, you can take 2-4 weeks to go over the information that is most difficult for you, and go from there. I am currently in this stage of studying, and I plan to spend 3-4 hours a day on NAPLEX preparation (knowing I’ve already had a lot of preparation). For you, it may be 2-4 weeks of 8 hours study days. That is up to you.

Calculations

It is SO important to be constantly doing the calculations chapters. I would suggest at least 1 hour a day of calculations. It is so easy for us to forget the formulas, and we want to be fresh with the math so we make sure we don’t miss any of the more simple math questions on the exam.

Brand/Generic

It is also SO important to know brand and generic. The exam will expect you to know both. If you know what amlodipine is and that it can cause gingival hyperplasia, but have no idea what Norvasc is, how do you expect to get the question right?

Other things to focus on:

Biostatistics, Compounding, Narrow Therapeutic Index drugs (and their therapeutic drug levels), Infectious Disease, Vaccines, Oncology, and any other topics more difficult for you.

It is also important to take all practice questions that you can, and try to think through why every other answer is wrong. It is important to understand the concepts, not just memorize the questions (newsflash, it won’t be the same questions on the NAPLEX).

Weaknesses

Go through and determine your weaknesses on the first day of studying. Focus on these weaknesses. Make sure you’re comfortable with the information, then move on to brush up on the more familiar topics.

Exercise and Sleep!

Don’t neglect your self care. It is so important to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Keep your physical and mental self healthy, and you’ll do just fine!

Example Study Schedule (2 week)

Good luck and Stay Golden,

Emily

Preparing for Rotations

Hey guys! I’m writing today to list out how to best prepare to be on your A-Game when you start APPE rotations. Note: This is just what has helped me feel prepared as I go into rotations in May. Other things may work better for different people.

1. First things first, during the first 3 years of pharmacy school, study hard and study well. It is beneficial to work hard to get short-term memory into long-term memory so that you remember all the important stuff for all of the years ahead of you in your career. One of the ways that I do this is to make Quick Disease Fact Sheets after each disease state (or set of disease states) tackled in pharmacy school. I have discussed these before and the link to that blog post is here. You can also do the same thing with specific medications or classes of medications to make sure you remember the BIG, IMPORTANT points.

2. Second, it is important to continue studying, even when you begin rotations. What has been beneficial to me is to buy an RxPrep book (several years old) that was relatively cheap on Amazon. I am going through these topics nightly so that I’m well versed in what I need to know. We do not receive our RxPrep book for the current year until around September/October, so having the older model around before that comes will prove worthwhile.

3. Stay organized. It is very important to remain organized as APPEs are approaching. You should know which rotation is coming up when so you know where to focus your energy in the week or so leading up to that rotation. For example, if your first rotation is a cardiology rotation, it would be a good idea to brush up on the cardiology disease states before heading into that rotation.

4. Be prepared to be wrong or to not know an answer. It is important to be okay with not knowing everything. As pharmacy students, a lot of us are worried about being seen as ignorant. However, the preceptors on rotations understand that it is impossible for us to know everything about the world of pharmacy. A lot of that comes with being in the career field itself. A lot of the time, they aren’t testing our knowledge, but are testing our ability to admit when we don’t know something and our ability to look it up in a reputable source. This is not to say that they don’t expect us to know something… I mean, if they ask you what the brand/generic name or indication is of something… you NEED TO KNOW that.

5. And last but not least, the most important way to prepare for APPE rotations is to just trust yourself and breathe. It will all be okay. You’ve got this. WE’VE GOT THIS. I’m right there with you. If you ever need anything, feel free to reach out.

And as always…

Stay Golden,

Emily