A fifth year pharmacy student with 3 semesters left had several questions about the "Big Tests" so I will try to give honest and supportive answers.
1. Which is the more important exam, Naplex or MPJE?
Both. The Naplex content is designed to test your working knowledge of medications, interactions, adverse reactions, contraindications, etc. They basically want to know if you are more or less likely to kill a patient. The ultimate goal is to not kill any patients.
The MPJE content is designed to test your working knowledge of pharmacy law and see if you are likely to be wreckless in your practice or if you will be careful. Laws are designed to protect people and you need to follow them, even if they seem a little mundane.
2. What did you and your classmates study from when you took the Naplex/MPJE?
For the MPJE I studied the law manuals from the state I was being licensed in along with course materials from our law class for federal pharmacy law. Each state has an MPJE tailored to its laws so each exam will have different content depending on which state you want a license for. I have licenses in 2 states and had to take an MPJE for each of them but the Naplex score transfers from state to state depending on their regulations. Some states require you to take the Naplex and MPJE if you are transferring from another state. You will have to check with the Board of Pharmacy website for the state(s) you are interested in for the details and requirements.
For the Naplex I studied everything! I structured my studies by taking each class of drugs and listing all the things about them that were the same (indications, adverse reactions, interactions, etc.) then I broke down each drug by what makes it unique (duration of activity, dosing, unique side effects, unique interactions, etc). Be sure to focus on drugs you are not as strong with. The exam could focus on cancer drugs or HIV drugs or many other drugs that you probably didn't get the best emphasis on so follow the scouting mantra "Be prepared!"
3. When did you start to study for Naplex/MPJE? and Are live prep courses like Kaplan good for Naplex/MPJE review?
I started studying after our last class was out and we were ready to graduate. Most of the things you need to study you should already know. Don't doubt yourself. The Naplex sucks and will destroy you if you self-doubt while you are sitting in the exam. Structure your studies, make flash cards, study with a group, take a review course or any means necessary to make sure you know as much as possible.
4. How many times can I retake Naplex/MPJE?
I believe the magic number is 3. After the 3rd failure of Naplex you are required to retake some courses or at least that is what we were told in 1999 it may have changed but I wouldn't want to suffer through that exam more than once so make the first time count! I have no data on the MPJE but it probably varies from state to state, again make the first time count!
5. Am I within a set time frame to take these exams?
The best time to take it is within 3 months of graduation. The longer you wait the more you will forget. Study, study, study and make every bit of it count! There are going to be time limits from graduation to the latest time you can take the exams but you would have to check the state and NABP websites for that info. Seriously, if you are thinking of waiting a long time to take the test are you sure you are ready to practice as a pharmacist?
Another person emailed about the FPGEE exam. As far as I know you only have to take that exam if you were educated or licensed in a foreign country and plan to practice in the U.S. Some states may not accept this exam for licensure so you will have to make sure the board of pharmacy in the state you wish to practice in will accept it.
My experience with Naplex and MPJE were very unpleasant. I took the Naplex then took the MPJE right after it. I do not recommend that anyone do this. I was emotionally crushed by the Naplex and ended up failing the MPJE by 1 stinking point. I cried and felt completely defeated at the end of the day. I knew my failure was imminent but I only had to retake the law.
The Naplex is adaptive. The better you do, the harder it gets. Don't get discouraged! There is a pre-Naplex you can take to acclimate you to the style of questions that will be asked. Naplex also has a few questions that don't count that are thrown into the mix to see if they are acceptable for future tests. This applies to the MPJE also. You will have no idea which questions these are so just do the best you can!