PCAT Breakdown: Verbal Ability Section!

This is part 2 of a series breaking down the Pharmacy College Admission Test.

The PCAT is a marathon of an exam with six sections and clocking in at nearly four hours so let’s take a closer look at each section, shall we?

On the menu today: the Verbal Ability section, which is the second section you will face come PCAT day! It contains 40questions and you’ll have 25minutes to answer them. Within the Verbal Ability section there are two kinds of questions: Analogies and Sentence Completion. Analogies with make 62% of the questions and Sentence Completion 38%.



These questions are concerned with relationships between words and you are asked to complete the analogy by examining and picking/making the correct relationship. Here are the parameters straight from the PCAT makers:

PCAT Verbal Analogies

You can think of these types of questions as the classic “____ is to ____ as ____ is to____”, for example: “puppies are to dogs as kittens to ____” (absolute easiest example ever). In fact you should think of them as that! Making a sentence from the first two words is a good way to set you up to find the word that goes with the third. Make up your own sentence before looking at the answer choices so is not to fall into a trap…

The PCAT makers say, “Each incorrect answer may seem plausible and will relate in some conceptual way to the third item in the stem, but not in a way that correctly completes the analogy” that means these are meant to be tricky. The answer choices may have a relation with the word but is the same as the first two words? It’s a little tricky because if you’re not paying close attention you may pick one that is related but wrong. That’s why making a sentence is super helpful in helping create the right relationship.

So based on the type of relationship of the first two words you need to pick the answer that gives that same relationship for the third word. There are 5 types of relationships that are tested:

PCAT Analogy Types

With practice you will become better at recognizing relationships and it definitely wouldn’t hurt to work on your vocabulary. Actually the most common tips I found on the Pre-Pharm forums were always along the lines of “study the top 200 GRE words” and “make flashcards” to expand your vocabulary. Here’s a sample similarity/contrast type of analogy question: PCAT Analogy Sample

Sentence Completion

Like the Analogy questions these Sentence Completions are meant to be tricky. But here you have context to work with and even though some answer choices may seem “plausible” only one is correct. Here are the official rules:

PCAT Verbal Sentnces

With practice you can learn how to efficiently and effectively select the correct responses because 25minutes will go fast and you need all the points you can get. Sentence Completion can be tricky since some answer choices are plausible and you might be tempted to quickly pick one that makes sense but you can’t make little mistakes like this! Read the sentence and fill the blanks with your own words before even considering the answer choices. This way going to the answer choices you already know exactly what words or synonyms to look for. Take a look at this sample:

PCAT Sentence Sample

The Verbal Ability section of the PCAT is not to be taken lightly. Here is where you can lose major points by falling for the tricky answer traps. Practice and learn to be stealthy and ready for their tricks. Don’t make silly little mistakes by picking plausible but not the correct answers or just not knowing a common vocab word or etc. etc. etc.

Happy Practicing.