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What Is the NHA CPhT Exam & How Do You Prep Students for It?

The NHA CPhT exam is a certification test developed by the National Healthcareer Association to measure a student’s knowledge and skills needed to be a pharmacy technician.

When someone passes the exam, they earn a certification acknowledging that they can work as a pharmacy tech.

Because most pharmacy employers mandate certifications as hiring requirements, any interested student must pass the exam!

But how do you set your students up for success?

On this page, we’ll share how the NHA CPhT exam is structured and give you some tips on helping your students succeed.

We’ll start with some background on the National Healthcareer Association since they provide the exam!

What Is the National Healthcareer Association?

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is a nationally-accredited provider of  health science certifications.

NHA’s mission is “empowering people to access a better future,” which includes improving client experiences and providing better opportunities for healthcare professionals.

To accomplish this, NHA provides eight industry certifications:

  • Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
  • Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  • Electronic Health Record Specialist (CEHRS)
  • EKG Technician (CET)
  • Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  • Patient Care Technician/Assistant (CPCT/A)
  • Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
  • Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

Since 1989, the NHA has awarded more than 750,000 healthcare certifications across the country!

Now that you know a bit about the NHA, let’s dig into the details of the CPhT exam!

How Is the NHA CPht Exam Structured?


The NHA CPhT exam includes 100 scored questions and 20 pretest questions the NHA uses to gather data.

Overall, the questions fall into four healthcare “domains:”

  1. Overview and Laws (25%)
  2. Drugs and Drug Therapy (15%)
  3. Dispensing Process (45%)
  4. Medication Safety and Quality Assurance (15%)


Each domain includes subdomains with supporting statements that go into more detail of the knowledge and skills pharmacy technicians need.

Domain 1 - Overview and Laws

The Overview and Laws domain is broken down into three subdomains:

  1. Role, Scope of Practice, and General Duties of the Pharmacy Technician
  2. Laws and Regulations
  3. Controlled Substances
    Subdomain A includes 15 topics related to the tasks of a pharmacy technician, such as assisting pharmacists, storing medication, and maintaining pharmacy security.

Subdomain B has nine topics around regulations such as HIPAA, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA).

Subdomain C includes seven topics related to working with controlled substances and the laws that regulate them.

Domain 2 - Drugs and Drug Therapy

The Drugs and Drug Therapy domain is made of two subdomains:

  1. Drug Classification
  2. Frequently Prescribed Medications

Subdomain A has six topics, including drug classes, drug class abbreviations, over-the-counter products, and behind-the-counter products.

Subdomain B has five topics related to commonly prescribed medications and how clients may react to them. These include aspects such as side effects, contraindications, and adverse reactions.

Domain 3 - Dispensing Process

The Dispensing Process domain is broken into four subdomains:

  1. Prescription and Medication Order Intake and Entry
  2. Preparing and Dispensing Prescriptions
  3. Calculations
  4. Sterile and Nonsterile Products, Compounding, Unit Dose, and Repackaging

Subdomain A has 14 topics related to the administrative tasks a pharmacy technician will complete on a daily basis. These include processing prescription orders, entering electronic patient profiles, and using correct DAW codes.

Subdomain B includes 12 topics that pertain to dispensing medication, such as measuring medication, using the appropriate containers, and using auxiliary labels.

Subdomain C has eight topics focused on the various calculations a pharmacy technician may need to make in daily work. These include conversions between measurement systems, calculating daily doses, and performing compounding calculations.

Subdomain D is made of 13 topics related to safety precautions in the pharmacy, like infection control processes, using appropriate equipment, and determining beyond-use-dates for medications.

Domain 4 - Medication Safety and Quality Assurance

The Medication Safety and Quality Assurance domain is the only area that doesn’t have multiple subdomains.

The domain is made up of eight topics, including accurately fulfilling prescriptions, knowing the Institute for Safe Medication Practices guidelines, and performing quality assurance checks.

Overall, the NHA’s CPhT test plan includes every bit of detail your students will need to know for the exam.

On test day, students have 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete the exam at a dedicated PSI Testing Center.

The NHA CPhT is scored immediately after the exam, and students receive their results right away.

So now that you know the details of the NHA CPhT exam, there’s one question left.

How do you prepare your students for the test?

How Do You Prepare Your Students for the NHA CPhT Exam?


There are many options out there for preparing students for certification exams, so it’s not easy to find the best one.

Many instructors use test prep materials to prepare students for test day.

The NHA’s study guides and practice tests are a great way to measure your students’ knowledge, but those resources don’t actually help you teach the information!

That’s why it’s important to take a three-step approach when preparing your students for success.

First, teach the foundational concepts and skills students need to learn before getting into the specifics of pharmacology.

This portion of your pharmacy curriculum can include lessons on medical terminology, safety precautions, HIPAA, and other introductory pharmacology content.

Once your students know the basics, transition to more detailed concepts and tasks of pharmacy technicians.

At this point, it’s smart to include topics like commonly prescribed medications, dosage calculations, and the dispensing process.

Towards the end of your course, tie it all together with NHA test prep materials.

Study guides and practice tests can help your students review key areas and reinforce what they need to know!

Overall, the key to success is to seamlessly tie these pieces together.

The NHA has great options for teaching the nitty-gritty of pharmacy tech duties, but their resources skip right over the first step of teaching!

To ensure their students have the fundamentals down, many teachers build their own lessons and activities from scratch. This is a great way to provide that information, but it takes a lot of time to complete!

That’s why health science instructors across the US have implemented a digital curriculum system that teaches foundational healthcare concepts!


Prepare Students for the NHA CPhT Exam with HealthCenter21


Health science instructors across the country use the HealthCenter21 digital curriculum system to teach key concepts and skills to set their students up for success.

HealthCenter21 empowers you to help students succeed in class, on the NHA CPhT exam, and in their future careers as pharmacy technicians!

This is made possible with thousands of ready-to-use instructional resources, interactive scenarios, classroom management tools, and more.

Along with that, we’ve mapped the curriculum to the NHA CPhT test plan so you can see exactly how HealthCenter21 can help you!

Want to learn more? Click below to download your NHA CPhT certification success guide!

Download the National Health Science Assessment Guide