Hi all! I am so excited to have the BCPS exam behind me and more thrilled of course that I passed! I have to say walking out of the exam two months ago I was like “wow that was so difficult…I have no idea how I did.” So many other pharmacists have said it is the hardest exam they have ever taken and I fully agree. I honestly knew I nailed the biostats portion and I have heard so many times that is a huge key to successfully passing the exam! However, with the BCPS exam obviously being the broadest, you really can get any and all clinical questions thrown at you and that is why preparing is so important!
I will be honest with you guys I did not study the way I intended to by any means. So, like always in the spirit of keeping this platform 100% genuine and authentic I am breaking down what I think I did well and what I would change if I could go back and do it again.
During residency I knew one of my goals was to become board-certified right after. I always intended on taking the BCPS exam as soon as I could which I knew would mean a fall testing date. I even had my residency program director (RPD) write me the letter for testing approval before residency ended. Which side note this is actually a really important point to highlight…
How to Sign Up for a BPS Exam
In order to qualify to take the exam you need your boss/RDP to certify you have met the requirements or either successfully completing a residency or fulfilling the hour requirement. In either case, per my RPD, the letter must have your institutions official letter head and should also be signed by your boss/RPD. When you apply to take the exam at the Board of Pharmacy Specialties website you will be prompted to upload verification that you have met the requirements and that is where you will upload the letter! You also must pay the testing fee before they will look at your application for approval! After you get approved, they give you instructions for choosing a testing date/location. Keep in mind the testing window is only about a month and they offer testing in the Fall and Spring.
How I Studied
Again I did not nail my study plan and I definitely ended up cramming a lot or at least it felt like it to me and I promise you cramming for an exam like this is zero percent fun. For the most part I have always been good at studying and I have been a good test taker. Unfortunately, due to the MPJE I can’t tell you I have never failed an exam BUT I can say I have never failed a clinical exam, which is more important in my mind anyway. The only reason I bring this up is because on some level I believed that even if I only gave myself a month to prepare I thought I would be able to pass and I was but again not fun and not recommended. If you are someone who has struggled with exams in the past or just in general know it takes you longer to study than this really needs to be taken into account for this exam because it was very challenging. It is also important to add that even if you have never failed a clinical exam before and are “generally a good test taker” like I said I felt I was, if you fail this exam that doesn’t make you a bad pharmacist by any means. I stress that it is a difficult exam and I myself know incredible pharmacists who did not pass on their first attempt.
I used High Yield Med Reviews (HYMR) for the majority of my study material and I honestly cannot recommend them enough! (I will include more information about the company and what they offer below). I intended on giving myself about three months to study so that I could do a little bit each day and still enjoy summer and life post residency. What really ended up happening was I got barely into my study lectures and poof realized I was about a month out from my exam date. I kept the order of how I was studying the material the same but I had to dedicate almost all my time off work to study and I wasn’t able to do as many practice questions or live study sessions as I wanted to…again don’t do what I did lets learn from my mistakes! To keep it short and sweet this is how I studied:
- High Yield Med Review Clinical Lectures
- I went through all clinical lectures on HYMR first
- I compiled a master study to review off of later from these lectures (this is how I would always study in school and is how I learn best)
- When I was really crunched for time and had great topic discussions from residency on a certain subject I felt comfortable with I would skip the lecture
- High Yield Med Review Biostats/EBM Lectures
- After I went through all clinical material I completed the biostats/EBM lectures
- I compiled a master study guide for this too
- I also made sure to take ALL practice questions they offered on this subject to make sure I had it down
- I used the MedEd101 study guide to review regulatory information (more on MedEd101 below)
- This portion of the test is only about 10% so I saved this for last
- Master clinical study guide
- Naplex study guide (utilized for acronyms and lists of “drugs that ____”)
- Biostats HYMR
- Biostats MedEd101 study guide (optional, see below)
- Regulatory MedEd101 study guide
- HYMR practice questions
The Best Study Plan
The biggest tip I can give you to having a good study plan is to simply give yourself enough time. I stand by my decision to review all clinical material first before diving into biostats or regulatory because I knew I wouldn’t remember all that information longterm since I don’t use it in daily practice the way I do my clinical knowledge. I highly recommend making some kind of master study guide as you watch the clinical lectures. The study guide will allow you to take specific notes you want to review later versus trying to find some spot in the video because you forgot something that was mentioned. They also make it really easy to review weaker clinical areas in a concise way shortly before the exam. I have always made master study guides throughout school and for all board exams I have taken thus far and I swear by it.
HYMR offers so many practice questions and they spit them up into topics so while you are going through the clinical lecture content I think it is important to try and review some practice questions from the specific topics you just covered. This will help you gauge how you are doing with the material and should help to find those weaker clinical areas to continue to review.
I personally think that three months is enough time, however when I made the study schedule that is linked below for you guys I was shocked at how jam packed it truly was for a three month time frame. I believe the High Yield Med Review folks specifically recommend about a six month study window and I can definitely understand why they do. I think it is reasonable to start before you hit the three month time period that way you are ahead of schedule incase you run into anything unexpected in your personal life or at work (2020 sure taught us that anything is possible so why not prepare for the unexpected right?).
Like I said before I saved the biostatistics/evidence based medicine/literature and regulatory content for last because I wanted it to be fresh in my memory for the exam. You will see in the study schedule that these topics are after all the clinical lectures.
Download 3 Month Study Schedule HERE: 3 Month BCPS Study Schedule
High Yield Med Reviews
High Yield Med Reviews is truly an amazing company and resource for pharmacists. I first heard about them from several of my preceptors in residency who used it to pass their board exams in the past and now this past testing session, myself and two of my other preceptors (who also used HYM) all passed our exams! I highly recommend getting their package deal that includes over 1,800 practice questions, clinical and biostats/EBM lecture content, ebooks and so much more! I personally used their 12 Month Premium Package. The study schedule I put together for you guys specifically utilizes the HYMR lectures/practice questions because they are what I personally used and are in my opinion the best study material available.
The different review packages for the BCPS exam are linked HERE.
HYMR also has review courses for other pharmacy board exams (one of my preceptors used it to pass his Psychiatry board exam) and even the NAPLEX, all their pharmacy review courses are linked HERE.
Their lecture content is incredible, Dr. Busti has a huge passion for not just helping you pass a board exam but for truly helping you become a better clinical pharmacist and healthcare provider. To learn more about Dr. Busti’s unique and extremely knowledge background you can listen to our BCPS 101 podcast episode! The podcast episode also has a lot of information on board exams themselves so that may be of interest to you!
You can receive $50 off any preparation course from High Yield Med Review, simply email customerservice@
HYMR Tips and Tricks
Content is extremely comprehensive! Again Dr. Busti wants to make you a great clinical pharmacist not just help you pass a test. There is way more content available to you than what is absolutely necessary to pass the exam, which I personally love because you are getting a great value and if you have specific interests you can always go back and do a deeper dive after the exam when you have more time. With our studying time frame in mind however keep this in mind:
- Some content is marked as “optional” these truly are optional and may be skipped prior to the exam if you do not have time to review them
- Clinical lectures are each very comprehensive. If the pathophysiology, history of a disease/treatment or mechanism of action are more than you currently have time for feel free to skip forward in the lecture!
Other important things to keep in mind with HYMR:
- There are personal planners available under each question bank to help keep track of how many practice questions you should be completing to stay on schedule
- You can do the practice questions in many different ways including by individual category or random selection. You can also filter to include only new unused questions or all questions including those you may have seen before.
- HYMR offers great live study sessions that you should take advantage of.
- Each lecture can be watched a maximum of 5 times, 5 views is plenty but it is best to be aware of how many times you can view it!
MedEd101 created the Regulatory Study Guide that I used to prepare for the BCPS and it is an absolute must have! This study guide does come included in larger packages that they offer BUT because I didn’t use any of their other material I really can’t give any kind of opinion on that. They do offer the Regulatory Study Guide on its own for purchase which is perfect if you are studying how I did with HYMR! The only area HYMR doesn’t have extensive content on is the regulatory part which is 10% so I don’t really blame them lol but if you are like me and want as many points as you can get then you definitely want this study guide!
MedEd101 also makes a Biostatistics Study Guide that is great as well. I can’t say it is an absolute must have because the content is very very similar to what you will find in the HYMR biostats lecture series! But, it is obviously already typed out and may be nice to re-learn material presented in a different way, especially if biostats is not your thing and you want some extra help!
You can used code “luxe20” for 20% off either MedEd101 study guide at checkout!
Exam Software FYIs
I had to include this section because the software for this exam is nothing like the NAPLEX or any other computerized exam I have taken before and it really threw me for a loop. So for starters this software will let you go back to questions if you don’t feel comfortable selecting an answer right away…I haven’t been able to go back to a question to review it since I was on paper exams you guys! The exam will let you leave it blank, flag it for review later or obviously select an answer and move on. You can also leave comments on the questions themselves, based on how it was explained I believe these comments get reviewed when the exam itself is reviewed. You can leave comments about why the question was worded poorly or really anything that may help exam reviewers decide on grading of the exam, if questions should be thrown out, etc. Again since I had just learned about this feature I think I got a little too excited and left comments galore (LOL) oh well! The calculator function and everything else software wise was very straightforward so hopefully you will not experience any last second surprises on exam day!
Biggest Take Aways
This was the hardest exam I have ever taken, prepare with that mindset and crush it!
Pay attention to the little details while you study, these can really make or break your answers to exam questions…again it isn’t designed to be easy!
Know stats like the back of your hand, I was relieved every time I saw a stats questions, doing well in this section will really help your score!
GOOD LUCK! -Madeline
This advice is the opinion of The Luxe Pharmacist and is not sponsored or endorsed by Board of Pharmacy Specialties, High Yield Med Reviews, MedEd101 or any other organization. Use of the discount codes provided by The Luxe Pharmacist do result in commission. The Luxe Pharmacist is not responsible for the outcome of the BCPS exam or any other Board of Pharmacy Specialties Exams. By viewing this blog post you are agreeing to these conditions. Distributing this material to others as your own is illegal due to copyright laws.