Introduction

Drug calculations tests are used for a variety of medical professions, including nursing, midwifery and para-medicine. The tests for drug calculation can be used when assessing potential employees or to help practising medical professionals work on their skills. On this page, we explore the test itself as well as the skills involved.


What is a drug calculation test?

A drug calculation test is an examination of your ability to efficiently work through the mental arithmetic associated with administering drugs to patients. You are working with dosage formulas, weights and volume, translating different types of measurements and working out dosage schedules. During the test, calculators are not permitted, so you must rely on yourself to make the accurate calculations. These tests are usually given on paper and you must show your work.

 


Example drug calculation questions

To help you understand what this test is, here are some example questions:

  • A patient is prescribed Tramadol 100 mg 3 times daily. How many tablets are required per dose and per 24 hours?
  • 375 mg of the drug Augmentin is prescribed t.d.s. What is the total amount of Augmentin in grams to be given in a day?
  • A person is prescribed Ropinirole 1.5 mg divided into three doses. How many micro-grams is each dose?
    Choose one answer from the following:
    1. 5
    2. 50
    3. 0.5
    4. 500

Depending on where you are taking the test, you may have either multiple choice questions or short answer questions, but the concepts and skills in both types of tests are the same.


What are the skills involved in drug calculation tests?

Making accurate drug calculations is an essential part of work as a medical professional. As these calculations are done on-the-go, a high level of mental arithmetic ability is mandatory. Beyond basic maths functions, a good understanding of the dosage formulas, infusion rates and concentration percentages is necessary. While these formulas may be provided for you on the test, you need to know how they function and when to use what.


Why should I prepare for this test?

Drug calculations tests are a type of assessment you are bound to encounter again and again throughout your career in medicine, whether it’s for a job interview or for a skills assessment. The skills mentioned above need to be sharp at all times to ensure your patients are safe and healthy. Practising drug calculations on sample tests can always help you out.