Pharmacy School Application – PCAT Examination Preparation Tips and Guide

Although most pharmacy schools require the PCAT examination, some school of pharmacies may not. Also, if you are an international student, you may need to take the TOEFL exam.

Pharmacy schools that don’t require the PCAT:

California Northstate
California – San Diego
California – San Francisco
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Boston MA
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Manchester NH
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Worcester MA
Oregon State University
University of the Pacific
Purdue University
University of Southern California
Touro University – California
Washington State University

The subjects tested on the PCAT exam include:

Verbal Ability
Reading Comprehension
Quantitative Ability
Problem Solving (Writing)
Conventions of Language (Writing)

First, do some research on PCAT books. Amazon lists user reviews on PCAT books that are worth looking at. For example for the 2010-2011 KAPLAN PCAT, the chemistry and biology are strong. It is highly recommended that you pick and choose several PCAT books as each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Other options include an AUDIOLEARN PCAT CD set which lets you listen to the material while driving, lying down in your home, or from your computer.

After reading the ‘lecture’ parts of the books, do as many practice exams as you can. Many questions may repeat on the PCAT, and setting time limits on your practice exams will prepare you for the time constraints during the real PCAT exam.

Planning your prerequisite courses for pharmacy school in a way where your harder science courses are completed near the time of your PCAT examination date would be helpful to keep the information fresh in your mind. But, I would not want to be halfway through a semester of Organic Chemistry lecture prior to taking the PCAT.

For many students, it could have been a long time since sitting in lecutre, so other resources exist which can prepare you for the PCAT. There are several online resources such as encyclopedias, videos, and other articles to refresh your mind on relevant topics. For example, I can search for a video on YouTube to remind me how covalent bonding occurs in Chemistry. You can also purchase slightly older edition textbooks for a huge discount on sites like Half (an old Biology book will cost under $5 with shipping).

For the writing sections, it would be in your best interest to practice writing a well-organized, complete essay. Essay topics from old PCATs can be found online or you can practice from completely random prompts to practice writing. Having a clearly defined Introduction, Thesis, 3 Supporting Body Paragraphs, and a Conclusion will allow you to do well on the writing sections.

Course studies for the PCAT are pricey ($1000-$1500), so it is only recommended if you are struggling to learn the material on your own. For some people, these courses have been very beneficial, but make sure to do research before cutting these companies a check.

PCAT Examination Tips:

* Practice, Practice, Practice!
* You can retake the PCAT exam if you don’t do well the first time around. From what others have said on forums, it seems like you should only look to take the exam 2-3 times max.
* A solid GPA with a great PCAT score (ex: >70% percentile) will usually get you accepted at most school of pharmacies in the U.S. A lackluster GPA along with a great PCAT score (ex: >80% percentile) could offset the GPA aspect of your application. Check and search user profiles on to see who got accepted where with what stats.
* Get plenty of rest, eat a well-portioned meal, and arrive early on the PCAT examination date.