Marla Ahlgrimm | What is the PCAT?

Marla AhlgrimmBefore you can begin your formal training to become a pharmacist, Marla Ahlgimm says you might have to take the PCAT. But what is it? And do I really have to take it to get into college? Ahlgrimm answers these questions and more in today’s brief Q&A.

Q: What is the PCAT?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The PCAT is a test designed to determine the abilities of a potential pharmacy school student. It is reviewed periodically by deans, working pharmacists, and other industry professionals to determine if the information contained within it is still relevant. Takers can expect to be given just more than two hours to take the test, which is comprised of nearly 200 questions; a short essay question is also included.

Q: What does this test measure?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The PCAT dives into topics ranging from quantitative reasoning to chemical and biological processes. In addition, the test will include reading and a few subjective items that might not be counted toward a score but will be reviewed during the admissions process.

Q: Do all colleges require you to take an entrance exam?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Not all schools require the PCAT for admission. For example, high school students who are looking to get into an early assurance program do not have to submit PCAT scores. Further, some colleges might require a different entry exam. To determine if your school of choice requires the PCAT or other general knowledge test, contact the admissions department.

Q: What is considered a “passing” score?

Marla Ahlgrimm: The PCAT is not a pass or fail examination. Instead, it is one way that schools determine the abilities and knowledge of potential students. Each institution that requires the PCAT has a different threshold. Like the ACT, this test is not a determiner of a person’s intelligence but instead is a helpful tool in measuring how likely they are to be successful given the rigorous requirements of a career as a pharmacist.

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