The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is designed to examine the skills and abilities needed to excel and succeed in pharmacy school. Currently, the overwhelming majority of AACP institutions require the PCAT for admission to pharmacy degree programs.
The PCAT tests basic scientific knowledge; math, verbal, reading comprehension, and writing skills; and your overall critical thinking skills. The test consists of 192 multiple-choice questions and one writing topic, placed in five separate sections. The exam spans approximately four hours, including one short break given in the middle. As of July 2011, the PCAT is offered exclusively on the computer.
|Section||About the Section||Time|
|Writing||Discuss a solution to a given world problem||30 min|
|Biological Process||48 questions: General Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology||40 min|
|Chemical Processes||48 questions: General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biochemistry||40 min|
|Break||Rest and recharge!||15 min|
|Critical Reading||48 questions: 6 passages, 8 questions per passage||50 min|
|Quantitative Reasoning||48 questions: Basic Math, Algebra, Probability & Statistics, Precalculus, Calculus||45 min|
PCAT Test Changes
In July 2016, the PCAT will implement a number of changes to the test’s structure and question types, but don’t worry! We’ve got your back with revised courses to prepare you for the updated PCAT.
- ADDED New passages, each with a set of four questions, will appear in both the Biology and Chemistry sections. The test makers had been trying out a few science passage-based questions previously, but these question types are now here to stay and will account for approximately half of your score for both science sections. You’ll need a strategic approach to handle these well on Test Day.
- REMOVED The Verbal Ability section, which formerly contained analogy and sentence-completion questions, has been completely removed from the test.
- CHANGED The Quantitative section now places more emphasis on word problems, especially in the context of algebra and arithmetic, and less focus on precalculus and calculus. All of the same content areas are still tested, but the number of questions you will see in each area will be different. You’ll need to be prepared to translate longer and more complicated questions into mathematical operations.
- Due to the changes above, most test sections now have new names and timings:
- Biology → Biological Processes (40 minutes)
- Chemistry → Chemical Processes (40 minutes)
- Reading Comprehension → Critical Reading (50 minutes)
- Quantitative Ability → Quantitative Reasoning (45 minutes)
- The Writing section has stayed the same and will still feature writing one essay in 30 minutes at the beginning of the test.
Your PCAT Score
Your score report will contain six separate scores (one for each section of the test) and a composite score. The five multiple choice sections—Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Ability—are scored based on the number of correct answers. Your initial “raw score” is then converted to a scaled score ranging from 200-600. Your composite score is calculated by taking the average of your scaled score on each multiple choice section. Pharmacy schools will see both your individual section scores and your composite score.
Your Writing Sample will also be scored, but separately. Your essay is reviewed by two graders, whose scores are averaged. You will then receive a score on a scale from 1-6. Note that as of July 2014, there is not a second or unscored Writing Sample on the PCAT.
In addition to your scaled scores, you will receive your percentile rank for each section and for your composite score. For example, if your percentile score is 60, this means that you scored higher than 60 percent of the other test takers. The composite percentile rank is frequently the number students use when discussing their PCAT scores.
The PCAT is scored on a scale from 200-600 with the median being a 400. The 90th percentile is typically a 430. Many pharmacy schools require that you score above a particular level on your exam in order to be considered as a candidate for admissions. You should research the admissions requirements for the schools to which you plan to apply.
PCAT Test Dates & Registration
The PCAT is a computer-based test that is administered several times a year. Test dates are offered in January, July, and September in all locations with select locations offering test dates in October and November. The test is administered by Pearson at testing locations throughout the United States and Canada.
2017-2018 PCAT Test Dates
|Test Date||Register By|
|July 18 – 19, 2017||May 19, 2017|
|September 7 – 8, 2017||July 10, 2017|
|October 23 – November 3, 2017||October 6, 2017|
|January 3 – 4, 2018||November 3, 2017|
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. Registration costs $210 and can be done either online or via mail (additional fees may apply). For additional registration information, visit pcatweb.info.