Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

Definition

The term Pharmacy College Admission Test refers to a computer-based examination used by schools of pharmacy as part of their admissions decision making process.  The PCAT tests the applicant's knowledge in six areas: writing, verbal abilities, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension and quantitative abilities.  Scores for each of the six subsections are scaled and range from 200 to 600.  Percentile rankings are also provided.

Explanation

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is used by the admissions departments of pharmacy colleges to identify prospective students.  The examination is administered electronically at test centers; typically in the months of July, September, October, November, and January.  Unofficial scores are available immediately following the completion of the test.  Official test results (electronic) are available five weeks following the examination; reports are delivered to three schools identified in the application in that same timeframe as part of the test fee.  Schools typically require students to take the PCAT by January to be admitted to a program the following fall.

The test consists of seven sections and students have approximately four hours and 30 minutes to complete this multiple choice examination, including:

  • Writing Ability:  the applicant is asked to complete one topic, which tests the student's problem solving abilities as well as conventions of language (2 sections, 30 minutes each).
  • Verbal Ability:  tests the student's knowledge of analogies and sentence completion (25 minutes, 40 questions).
  • Biology:  areas such as general biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology (35 minutes, 48 questions).
  • Chemistry: areas such as general chemistry, organic chemistry and basic biochemistry processes (35 minutes, 48 questions).
  • Reading Comprehension: tests the student's ability to comprehend, analyze and evaluate each passage (six passages, 50 minutes, 48 questions).
  • Quantitative Ability: areas such as basic math, algebra, probabilities and statistics, pre-calculus and calculus (45 minutes, 48 questions).

Raw scores are converted to a scale that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 600 points.  A score of 400 should be considered a national average.  Percentile scores are also calculated and provided to test-takers.  The examination can be taken up to five times, after which the student must apply for permission to retake the test.  Results are kept on file for five years.

Related Terms

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