What’s on the PCAT
This is a skills based test and it is designed to assess basic scientific knowledge, reading comprehension, mathematics, and writing and verbal skills. The exam is administered via computer.
There are 5 different sections of the PCAT; they are listed in the order they appear to you on the exam.
The writing section will contain 1 prompt. The subject will be either a health issue, a science issue, or a social, cultural or political issue. You will be expected to present a solution to the problem.
This section will be 50% General Biology, 20% Microbiology, and 30% Human Anatomy & Physiology.
You will be tested on 50% General Chemistry, 30% Organic Chemistry, 20% Basic Biochemistry Processes.
This section will be 30% Comprehension, 40% Analysis, and 30% Evaluation. It will be made up of six passages with a set of questions following each.
This section has been altered to focus more on basic math skills and algebra. It is divided as 25% Basic Math, 25% Algebra, 18% Probability & Statistics, 18% Calculus & 14% Pre-calculus.
How to Take the Test
Registration for this exam is a two-part process:
You need register for the PCAT here. You will be asked to create a user account in order to register. Once you complete the registration at the link above, you will be sent a confirmation email. This email will contain a link that will take you to the second step.
Schedule your exam with Pearson VUE via the link in your registration email. You will need a PCAT CID to complete this second step. A final confirmation email will be sent; it is recommended that you print this out and bring it with you.
Cancelling A Registration
Just as registration is a two-part process, cancellation requires two steps. You will need the credit card you paid with in order to cancel. You will need to first cancel your appointment with Pearson VUE, then cancel your registration on the PCAT site. If you cancel prior to the deadline, you can receive a partial refund. If you’ve lost the credit card that you used, there is another way; it just takes longer.
When to Take the Test
The PCAT is offered in July, September, October/ November, and January. In 2016, the test will be offered July 21/22, September 7-9, October 24-Nov 4, and January 4/5, 2017. Registration dates and cancel by dates can be found here.
What You Need
You should arrive 30 minutes prior to test time to allow for check-in. If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, you will not be permitted to sit for the exam. In order to check-in, you will absolutely need the following: TWO forms of original ID (AKA no photocopies). One form must be a primary ID, which means it must be a government issued ID with a photograph, signature, and your name. The secondary ID only needs to display your name.
What NOT to Bring
There will be no food/snacks, beverages, books/papers, highlighters, rulers, earplugs, cell phones, recording devices, watches, hats, or clothing/jewelry displaying related information allowed in the test room. During the test, you will have no access to your purse, phone, or backpack; these must be put in the provided storage space. All electronics must be turned off while in testing center.
The testing center may require you to take a digital photo or provide a signature, fingerprint, or palm vein scan. You will also be required to electronically sign the Pearson VUE Candidate Rules Agreement.
Once you finish your exam, you will have the option to choose the “no score option”. If you choose to keep your scores, an unofficial score report will be provided. Your official scores will be released 5 weeks after your testing day. These scores will be available online for one year and valid for five years.
If you don’t believe the scores you have received are correct, you can have the multiple-choice sections or the writing section rescored. Your official scores must be released before this process can begin, but it can be done no later than 60 days after your testing window has ended.
You can have your scores sent to three schools for free. You must list the schools you wish to send scores to prior to registering. Once you have registered, these schools cannot be changed. You can, however, request more schools for an additional fee.
Unlike most tests, your scaled score isn’t what matters. Schools are looking at your percentile rankings. How well did you score above everyone else? While many schools don’t list expected PCAT percentile rankings, how you do will still play a big part.
Who is at the top of the list seems to depend on where you look. Three schools consistently show up, though:
What Does It Mean For You?
The PCAT can be a difficult test for some. It is one of many things that pharmacy schools look for when they accept applicants, but it can be weighted a little heavier than some other factors. The biggest thing is to be prepared come test day. Interested in one-on-one PCAT tutoring? Take a look at what Next Step has to offer here.