The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a standardized test taken by those interested in attending a pharmacy college. The test measures both general academic ability as well as scientific knowledge needed to be understood for those who plan to undertake a career in pharmacology. The test is repeatedly reviewed to ensure that it reflects current pharmacy prerequisites and curriculum requirements.
There are a total of seven subtests within the PCAT: verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative ability, and two separate writing sections. Each section is 30 minutes long and a break is taken between the fourth and fifth sections. Apart from the two writing sections, all of the sections consist of 48 multiple choice questions. Of the 48 multiple choice questions, eight are experimental, as is one of the two writing sections. The experimental questions are not scored, and test takers do not know which part of the test is experimental. Test takers are not allowed to go back to previous sections of the test.
Those interested in taking the PCAT are highly encouraged to register early as seating is only available on a first-come, first-served basis and can only be taken at a Pearson VUE Test Center. There are two deadlines to be mindful of when planning to take the PCAT: 1) the "Register and Schedule By" deadline-meeting this deadline means you are highly likely to receive your preferred testing date, time and location; and 2) the "Late Registration and Schedule By" deadline-this deadline results in additional fees and less assurance that the preferred testing date, time, and location will be available.
The registration fee for the PCAT is $199, although prices are always subject to change. The late registration fee is a non-refundable $49. Registration must be done online at the official PCAT website. Test takers are allowed to take the test up to five times. Restrictions may be placed on any subsequent registration, and there may be a requirement for additional documentation showing why the test must be taken again.
After completing the exam and before leaving the testing center, a preliminary score report will be given of all multiple choice sections. There is no passing score for the exam as a whole. Scaled scores for each of the multiple choice subtests are ranked from 200 to 600. A percentile rank will be given to indicate the percentage of test takers who received a lower score for that subtest. Percentiles are calculated differently for each section, meaning a score of 450 on the biology subtest may have a different corresponding percentile rank than a score of 450 on the chemistry subtest.
Test takers are strongly encouraged to select the colleges to which they want their scores sent at the time of registration. Up to three colleges will be sent scores at no additional charge as part of the registration fee. If additional transcripts need to be sent, there will be a $20 fee for each transcript sent. If a request for an additional transcript is made close to the test date, there may be an additional two- to three-week delay in having the official transcript sent to the additional schools.
When choosing a testing date, admission requirements and deadlines of colleges to which the test taker is applying should be kept in mind. Scores will be sent approximately five weeks following the end of the testing window. The only instance in which a score will not be reported to a school that was already selected to receive an official transcript is if the test taker selects the "No Score" option at the end of the test, which means the test will not be scored, so no one (including the test taker) will ever see a score. Also, if "No Score" is selected, there will be no refund of registration fees.
Test takers have the option of verifying scores on the PCAT. In these instances, there will be a verification fee of $40 for the multiple choice subtests and a rescore fee of $50 for the writing subtest, which is non-refundable. Test takers are advised, however, that having a test verified or rescored rarely results in an overall score change. If it does, however, the verification fee will be refunded and updated transcripts will be sent to schools that were sent the original transcript.
PCAT test takers are strongly encouraged to spend ample time preparing for the exam. There are a multitude of organizations that offer PCAT practice books and tutoring services. The official PCAT website offers practice tests for both the multiple choice subtests and writing subtests. The cost for one multiple choice practice test is one for $45, two for $65, or three for $85. All tests include a printable diagnostic score report for the multiple choice practice test. The cost of one writing practice test is one for $30, two for $50, three for $70, or four for $90. The writing practice tests are scored through an electronic scoring system. All costs are non-refundable.