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The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is an admissions examination used by pharmacy colleges in the United States. The exam was developed in 1973 by the the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)'s PCAT Advisory Panel and The Psychological Corporation (now Pearson). It was first administered for admissions purposes in 1974.[1]

In 2005, recognizing that many pharmacy schools were now requiring applicants to submit writing samples, the PCAT Advisory Panel added a writing subtest to the PCAT. The specific focuses of the other sections of the exam also changed over time to address the changing demands of the field.[1]

Starting in 2011-2012, the PCAT has been administered at Pearson VUE test centers in a computer-based format. Both the multiple choice sections and the essay section are completed on computer.[1]

Function of the Test

PCAT Study Guide

The PCAT is an admission examination for candidates applying for admission to pharmacy schools in the United States. Many, but not all, pharmacy schools in the United States require PCAT scores from applicants.[2] Because different schools set different standards for admission, there is no single "passing score" on the PCAT exam.[1]

The PCAT Advisory Panel does not appear to publish detailed test statistics, but it reported that between June 2007 and January 2011, a total of 68,241 candidates took the PCAT exam. Based on those numbers, it can be estimated that approximately 19,000 candidates took the exam each year during that time period.[3]

Test Administration

PCAT Flashcards

The PCAT is offered in six small windows each year clustered primarily around autumn. In 2014-2015, the testing windows were scheduled for July, September, October (twice), November, and January.[4] Candidates must register a few months in advance of the intended testing date if they wish to avoid a late registration fee, but late registration is generally available until about a week before the exam date.[4] The test is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers.[4] The fee to take the PCAT is $199.[4]

Candidates receive an unofficial preliminary Score Report after completing the examination. The Official Score Report is made available within 5 weeks following the end of the testing window.[4] Candidates who wish to retake the exam may do so up to four times without restrictions. Candidates require special permission to register for the test a sixth time or more.[4]

Candidates with disabilities who require special testing accommodations must indicate on their registration form that they will require accommodations and must submit a request and supporting documentation to the PCAT Customer Relations team prior to scheduling the PCAT exam. It may take up to sixty days to process a request for accommodations, so candidates are encourages to start the process as early as possible. Upon receiving approval from the PCAT Customer Relations team for an accommodation, the candidate must call the Pearson VUE Accommodations Coordinator to schedule the examination.[4]

Test Format

Test Environment

Candidates are expected to arrive half an hour before the exam is scheduled to start, allowing time to check in to the testing center. Being more than 15 minutes late to the exam may mean denial into the test. Two forms of valid, government issued photo identification are required for admission. Food, drinks, notes, books, electronics, highlighters, and earplugs are not allowed in the testing center. [5]

Test Content

The PCAT Test is designed to test the skills of candidates in six different areas: Writing, Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Ability. Combined, there are 233 items, including a thirty minute writing prompt. Aside from the writing topic, all of the questions are multiple chioce. The entire testing period, including the break, lasts about four hours. [6]

Sample Questions

More free PCAT practice test questions.


The PCAT comprises one writing section and five multiple-choice sections:

Distribution of questions on the PCAT exam[4]
Section # of
Time limit
Scaled score range
Writing 1 essay 30 1.0-6.0
Verbal Ability 40 25 200-600
Biology 48 35 200-600
Chemistry 48 35 200-600
Reading Comprehension 6 passages,
48 items
50 200-600
Quantitative Ability 48 45 200-600
Total 1 essay,
232 items
3 hours 40 minutes
(plus one rest break)
(average of scaled
subsection scores)

Each of the five multiple-choice subtests of the PCAT is assessed on a scaled score ranging from 200 to 600. In addition, a total Composite score, also ranging from 200 to 600, is calculated by averaging the five scaled subsection scores. Each of the five sections is weighted equally in the calculation of the composite score.[3]

The writing section is scored on a scale from 1 to 6. Both computerized writing assessment software and trained scorers are involved in this process.[4]

The PCAT Advisory Panel does not publicly publish scoring statistics such as percentile ranks.[3]

Related Tests


External Links