Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is a standardized test used as part of the admissions process for pharmacy colleges. It measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education. The PCAT is administered by PsychCorp, which is part of the Pearson group. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) endorses the PCAT as the official preferred admission test for entrance to pharmacy college.

The PCAT consists of 240 multiple-choice items and two writing topics. Candidates are given four hours to complete the test (plus administrative time for instructions and time for a short rest break about halfway through the test).

The structure of the PCAT is as follows:

Section Questions Time Limit
verbal ability 48 30 minutes
Biology 48 30 minutes
Chemistry 48 30 minutes
Reading Comprehension 48 50 minutes
Quantitative Ability 48 40 minutes
Writing Responses Essay 30 minutes


Verbal Ability Section
This section assesses non-scientific vocabulary and usage; it is composed of  verbal analogies and sentence completion exercises.

Biology Section
This section assesses mastery of the basic concepts of biology, including general biology, microbiology, human anatomy, and human physiology. General biology makes up 60% of the exam, microbiology makes up 20%, and anatomy and physiology make up the remaining 20%.

Chemistry Section
This section assesses knowledge of the basic principles of elementary organic and inorganic chemistry. General chemistry makes up 60% of the subtest, while the remaining 40% is devoted to organic chemistry.

Reading Comprehension Section
This section assesses the candidate’s ability to understand and evaluate science-related reading passages. 30% of the questions will test comprehension; 40% will test analytical skills; and the remaining 30% will assess the ability to evaluate the passages.

Quantitative Ability Section
This section assesses mathematical skills and numerical reasoning in the areas of basic math, algebra, probability, statistics, pre-calculus, and calculus. Basic math skills make up 15% of the exam content, algebra makes up 20%, probability and statistics make up another 20%, pre-calculus makes up 22%, and the final 22% focuses on calculus.

Writing Responses Section
This section assesses your problem-solving skills and the effective use of the conventions of language.

There is no pass score for the PCAT. Each pharmacy school has its own standards. For this information you will need to contact the school or schools to which you are applying. You may take the PCAT again by registering for another test date and paying the test fee. The PCAT Candidate Information Booklet contains instructions for registration on a future date. However, you may want to check with the school or schools to which you are applying to see if they have a policy concerning scores from repeat exams.

There are some experimental multiple-choice questions on the PCAT and one experimental essay section. However, because you will not know which items and essay count toward your scores and which do not, you should do your best and answer every item and write both essays.

You may also be interested in reading background information on psychometric tests and aptitude tests.

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