PCAT 2017: Introduction Guide to the Pharmacy College Admission Test!

This is Part 1 of a series of breakdown posts that will outline the PCAT 2017!

We’ve actually done a series like this before but the test has gone through some changes and here at PCAT Cracker we like to keep you updated to make sure test day is the best day! First of all we’ll focus on the specifics of the PCAT itself and then in upcoming posts we will discuss each of the sections in detail individually.

The Pharmacy College Admission Test is designed by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) to assess your readiness for pharm school and is the official admission exam for U.S. (& Canada) pharmacy programs in the application process as a factor in their decision.

The PCAT 2017 is a monstrous marathon of an exam with a wide scope of testing topics and clocking in at nearly 4 hours!


The PCAT Registration Two Step:

Registering for the PCAT

While registration is not currently open for the majority of 2017 (exception with the few January dates that it’s too late fore) let’s talk about what you need to know…

Keep in mind when registering you need to know the schools you want your scores to be sent to, therefore figure it out beforehand. Step one: go to the PCAT website and create an account here; that’s your PCAT CID. With that log in you’re in the system and can do stuff like send official score transcripts, etc. Only after you a receive registration confirmation email saying that your payment was received can you then schedule to take the test…


Scheduling a test date

Got that registration confirmation email? Now schedule ASAP! The PCAT is a computer-based test conducted at Pearson VUE Test Centers and dates and test centers can fill up fast. If this is your first time taking the PCAT you’ll need to create a log in with Pearson VUE and keep your PCAT CID (your PCAT registration log in) handy, you’ll need it. If you have a log in with Pearson VUE already, sign in and schedule away!


$ Cost of Taking the PCAT $

When you register to take the PCAT the fee is $210 and this includes sending official scores to up to three schools. If you want to send scores to any more schools it’s $20 each. If you haven’t realized it yet, deadlines are a big deal and the late registration fee is an additional $49.


What’s on the PCAT?

What will test day look like? Here’s the breakdown:

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.21.20 PM

FYI: there is a scheduled 15-minute break after section three Chemical Processes and that is the only scheduled rest break! If you really need an additional break the timer on your test will not stop therefore try your best not! With proper practice practice practice and a goodnight’s sleep you can handle no extra breaks in your PCAT 2017 test day no problem.


PCAT Scores

You will receive an unofficial score as soon as you finish the test and official scores are available within 5 weeks of your testing window. Your Official Score Report will be available online for one year from the date of your test administration and Official Transcripts will be sent to the institutions you designated to receive your scores. PCAT scores are on a scale so there’s no passing or failing per se.

Your official score reports will contain a Scaled Scored and Percentile Rank side by side. Check out a sample score report here. Keep in mind that certain pharm programs have a desired PCAT score therefore it’s important to aim high always!


What’s Next?

As previously mentioned you can’t register the PCAT 2017 quite yet so for now focus on studying and PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! While we work on the updated section breakdowns you can check out the PCAT Breakdown: Writing Section! post because that section has not drastically changed.

Also check out some other pertinent PCAT Cracker blog topics; for instance…

PCAT Study Tips

PCAT Test Day Tips


We will keep you updated and in the loop with any other future PCAT 2017 changes. That’s all for now! Remember we’ll have new and improved PCAT Section Breakdowns rolling in soon and until then stick with PCAT Cracker to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!

Benefits of Joining a Pre-Pharmacy Organization

Imagine that crowded and bustling organization fair at the beginning of each semester. There is likely a wide range of different pre-health professional organizations or even specifically a pre-pharmacy club table vying for your time and membership. There’s really a lot out there so how do you choose?

Or perhaps…

You may have strolled through that fair and thought something along the lines of…

“Hey I know all about applying for pharmacy school and I got a pretty good handle on the PCAT so I don’t need those meetings and membership fees, right?!”

…but let’s take a closer look, shall we?




Gaining Relevant Experience

Simply putting down on your resume that you were a part of some pre-pharmacy society isn’t much help but there are plenty of ways to get involved in events and programs put on by the organization. Pre-pharm clubs offer a wide range of opportunities to be proactive in bettering yourself through things such as mentoring programs or gaining experience volunteering in the pharmacy world.

Make the most of your time and membership fees frankly and get involved!


Leadership Opportunities

Within the ranks of the organization you can lead peers and drive the organization to success.

Taking on a leadership role can be challenging but you gain the very valuable skills for a future in pharmacy like communication, negotiating, and problem solving just name a few. Besides leadership positions always look great on a resume. Taking the lead and the subsequent skills gained are extremely beneficial for a future pharm professional.


Access to Resources

These organizations have resources you may not even be aware exist and in order to take advantage of them you have to be in the know!

One of the perks of a pre-pharmacy organization is that school representatives from the different pharmacy programs will schedule more visits should they anticipate an audience of pre-pharm students. That means clubs will host these representatives to come and talk to the group and answer any specific questions or even host a whole panel of representatives to speak!


Figure Out Exactly What You’re Doing

Clinical Pharmacy, Pharmacoepidemiology, and Pharmacoeconomics, OH MY!

So what exactly are all the specializations and what is it exactly you want to do? Student orgs may bring in a wide range of people in the pharmacy profession to talk on what they do and offer advice and help you discover exactly what you’d like to do someday!


Misery Loves Company

You’ll meet other pre-pharm hopefuls to share the woes of preparing for pharmacy school. With everything from the PharmCAS, the PCAT, letters of recommendation, etc. making connections with fellow students that know exactly what you’re going through can be both comforting and helpful! You can even share your wisdom about how great PCAT Cracker is! 🙂


In review, pre-pharmacy clubs can offer many benefits helping members stay on the track with things like career panels and mentoring programs just to name a few!

So why would you want to join? The better question is why not?


Applying to Pharmacy School: Letters of Recommendation!

Applying to pharmacy school is a long, trying process and while the PharmCAS for the Fall 2016 cycle won’t even open until around July, it’s time to start thinking about your application!

Summertime and these applications may seem like a ways away but…

RIGHT NOW is the time to be making the connections and developing relationships with future letters of recommendation writers!


You can’t just go around asking like this, “I’m great! Write about it!” *self-five*



Anyway here’s the lowdown letters of rec:


Who to Ask?

Professors are bombarded with students asking for letters so the key is to ask the people who know you best in order to get the best letters. This is the time to be making nice with future potential letter writers and develop the kind relationships that make for compelling letters.

Basically you are recruiting for your pharm school application team, so choose them wisely!

Schools sometimes ask for specific letter writers (like one from a professor, one from an employer, etc.) so research your potential pharmacy schools’ requirements and plan accordingly.


Ask In Person.

Everyone really harps on this, as they should! You can set up an initial meeting through email to discuss the possibly of them writing a letter for you but you shouldn’t ask outright over the internet; that’s an in person question! Plus what’s that saying, “it’s harder to say no to someone in person”, right?


Ask Early.

As mentioned before professors are getting flooded with requests and you want a good letter not a rushed one! The absolute least amount of time is three weeks to ask for a good letter.


Go Asking Prepared.

This last tip will really set you apart from what could be many letter of recommendation a professor has to write. Go to your letter writers with all the materials they may need when writing a beautiful letter about you. These things can include your resume, CV, and at least a draft or bullet points from your personal statement. You want to set them up and make it easy for them to write a great letter so they can get a feel for exactly what you’re going for your application.


With these things in mind go forth and prosper setting yourself up for the best letters of recommendation possible. P.S. If you’re stressing about the PCAT fast approaching, practice and ace it with PCAT Cracker of course and stay tuned for more of our PCAT Breakdown series!

PCAT Breakdown: Reading Comprehension Section!

This is part 3 of a series breaking down the Pharmacy College Admission Test.

Definitely check out the rest of the series here on the blog to get the full lowdown on the PCAT and get set up to dominate the exam!

On the agenda today: Reading Comprehension! This section will be right after your scheduled break so bright side is that you’ll have a little brain break before all the dense reading passages and quant ability.


The Reading Comp section will have 6 passages, 48 questions, and is 50 minutes long.


These questions will not be so straightforward and will require some brain flexing.

The topics of the passages can range anywhere from historical or contemporary social, cultural, ethical, or political issues related to the social sciences, the natural sciences, technology, health, nutrition, or medicine. They may be informative, persuasive, or speculative in purpose or may be practical or theoretical in nature. Your job is to be able to (quickly) break down the information presented and be able to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate the passage.


There are three types of questions you will face in this section. Below is a detailed list of each of the reading comprehension content objectives.

Comprehension, 30% of questions

PCAT 1 Comp Obj


Analysis, 40% of questions

PCAT 2 Analysis Obj


Evaluation, 30% of questions

PCAT 3 Eval Obj


Some student say the reading comp section is the hardest to study for, since you can’t know what the passages will even be about, so how do you prepare? The answer is with practice! These are long and densely scientific passages and being able to read and breakdown them down efficiently is a skill you can hone! Time is the enemy. Possibly the most difficult part of the reading comp section is the limitation on time so practice with time restraints. No worries though because PCAT Cracker can give you plenty of practice!


Stayed tuned for the continuation of the PCAT breakdown series plus all things pre-pharm!

Go forth and prosper!