Like many of the questions regarding these types of exams, it’s dependent on a number of different factors. An average PCAT score is 400 on a scale of 200-600. Remember that’s average, though. Average may not get you into the school you’re hoping for.
In general, you want to aim for an 80% ranking to be competitive, but the score and percentile ranking you really want to aim for is linked to several different pieces of your application. The PCAT score you should be aiming for depends on:
1. The Schools You’re Applying To
The majority of pharmacy schools will require applicants to take the PCAT. Every school that requires you to submit a PCAT score will let you know the average score of accepted students. Remember, though, that this is the average. Some students will be admitted with a slightly higher score, and some will be admitted with a slightly lower score, too. It really depends on the strength of their overall application.
Generally, you’ll want to aim for a higher than average score. If the rest of your application is strong, then a higher than average PCAT is like the icing on the cake. Your chances of acceptance will always be higher if your application is as strong as it can be.
2. Your GPA
The programs you’re interested in will not only list the average PCAT score of accepted students, but the average GPA. Like the PCAT scores, many students will be admitted with a slightly higher or lower GPA.
If your GPA is a little lower than the average for the program you’re applying to, an above average PCAT score can sometimes make up for it. The opposite applies too, if your PCAT score is a little lower than average, an outstanding GPA can sometimes fill in that gap.
Unfortunately, your GPA is nearly impossible to change by the time you’ve begun preparing for and taking the PCAT. This is something you should be thinking about from the first day of freshman year, not as you’re scrambling to finish your applications. Still, it will help you determine what score to aim for. A lower than average GPA will require a much stronger PCAT score, and if your PCAT score is lower than you hoped, your GPA can help make up for it.
3. The Strength of Your Application
Pharmacy schools are looking for a lot of things in potential students; your PCAT score is just one of them. It is, however, an important one. Having a great PCAT score that is above the average score of the program you’re applying to can counteract an application that is a little lacking. You can take a look at what makes a good pharmacy school applicant here.
While the PCAT and your GPA are the largest pieces of your application, they are not the only pieces. There are several smaller pieces that need to be filled in to complete the puzzle. Admissions committees want to know that you can do well in pharmacy school (which is why they look at your academic history and PCAT scores), but they also want to know that you’re going to do well as a pharmacist. A well-rounded application helps to make you into a three-dimensional applicant. So, don’t just worry about the PCAT. An exemplary PCAT score may not make up for an application that is completely lacking. It can help to make a slightly weaker application look a whole lot better, though.
Set Realistic Goals
You probably already know where you’d like to apply to. But, you may not know if those goals are realistic when you’re just getting started with your PCAT prep. Taking a diagnostic exam when you begin can really help you to determine where you’re starting from and how much you can realistically improve.
Next Step offers a free PCAT exam that is perfect to help you get started with your prep. Once you understand your starting point, your strengths, and your weaknesses, you can really get a feel for the exam. The diagnostic exam is just one of the steps you should take when beginning to set your goals and structure your prep. Find out the 6 questions you should be asking yourself before setting a prep timeline here.
As always, we wish you the best of luck with your PCAT prep!