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PCAT : The Pharmacy College Admission Test

Introduction

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a standardized test that helps to identify qualified applicants for admission into pharmacy colleges within U.S.A. and Canada. The test evaluates academic and scientific skills of applicants interested in pursuing a career within the pharmaceutical industry. Read more to get details on PCAT test dates, PCAT prep, PCAT registration, PCAT practice test and PCAT scores.

Why Take PCAT?

Approximately two-thirds of U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy require the PCAT exam for admission purposes. And one of the pre-requisites for entrance into a pharmacy school is scoring well on the PCAT, which often is a good predictor of students who have the capability to do well in pharmacy school.

Prerequisites

Generally, pharmacy schools require the following courses as a prerequisite for taking the PCAT general chemistry with lab, organic chemistry with lab, general biology with lab, mathematics, physics, English composition, and electives in humanity or social sciences. 

Test Structure

The PCAT consists of seven subtests measuring six content areas: verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative ability and writing. Each section is timed separately during which applicants are only permitted to work on that particular section. Students are not permitted to revise earlier subtests or move on to other ones. PCAT consists of 240 multiple choice questions and one writing assignment.  The total time to complete the test is four and half hours, which includes administrative time for instructions and a short break.  There are no negative points for incorrect answers. 

Focus Areas Coverage Questions Time Duration

Writing

Measures the effective use of language conventions in a written essay.  Essentially the students are required to provide a solution to a problem through the essay. Skills evaluated include problem solving and language convention.

1 Essay Question

30 Minutes

Verbal

Focuses on  vocabulary and usage of words in language. Questions are based on analogies and sentence completion.

48 Multiple Choice

30 Minutes

Biology

Topics covered here include general biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology.

48 Multiple Choice

30 Minutes

Chemistry

Students are expected to have basic knowledge in general and organic chemistry.

48 Multiple Choice

30 Minutes

Reading Comprehension

Measures applicant's ability to comprehend, analyze and interpret reading passages on scientific topics. It specifically tests  comprehension, analysis and evaluation skills.

48 Multiple Choice

50 Minutes

Quantitative Reasoning

Measures skills in arithmetic processes including fractions, decimals and percentages. It also evaluates an applicant's ability to reason through and understand the quantitative concepts and relationships including application of algebra, geometry, precalculus, calculus and probability.

48 Multiple Choice

40 Minutes

Experimental Section

Another writing assignment and 8 questions from all other sections contribute to the experimental section that are not scored. The purpose of including experimental questions in PCAT sections is to test new questions for future PCAT administration.

1 Essay Question

30 minutes

Tips to Prepare

Score

PCAT score ranges between 200 and 600 for multiple-choice sections. The mean score usually lies between 340 and 460. The score report also indicates percentiles that make it possible to compare the performance of students in PCAT. The writing score is scored on a scale of 0 to 5.0. Scores are provided for both, conventions of writing and problem-solving abilities, as displayed in the writing sections.

Applicants recieve their  official PCAT score report after 5-6 weeks of taking the PCAT test. Their  official score report will be available online for 1 year from the date of their test administration, and official transcripts will be sent by the U.S. Postal Service to the institutions each applicant has designated to receive their scores.

Fees

Paper Registration Form Fee - $ 50.00;
Online Registration Fee: $199.00;
Late Registration Fee - $49.00 (applicable only for online registration);
Additional Official Transcript Fee - $ 20.00 each;
Additional Personal Score Report Fee - $ 20.00 each;
Hand scoring Fee (for the five multiple choice subtests) - $ 40.00 each request;
Rescore Fee (for the writing subtest) - $ 50.00 (non-refundable);
Online Practice Test Fee - $ 40.00 for one and $ 60.00 for two at the same time (non-refundable).

Registration

As of 2012, the PCAT is a computer-based test which is administered several times a year in January, July, and September. The test is administered by Pearson at select testing locations throughout the United States. Students are encouraged to register early, as seating is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis and there are no opportunities to take the PCAT standby. For more information please visit the PCAT official website.

Test Dates

PCAT is usually offered three times in a year in January, July and September. For more information please visit the PCAT official website.