PCAT Chemistry Test





What to Study for PCAT Chemistry?

The PCAT test is the official entrance test to many pharmacy colleges in the U.S. The purpose of this test is to measure the academic knowledge of the applicants, along with their scientific, analytical and language skills. One of the most challenging sections of this test is the Chemistry section, the aspects of which will be described in this article.

The Chief Aspects of the PCAT Chemistry Test:

  1. Test Format and Duration

    The Chemistry test, like all the other sections of the PCAT test is computer-based. It is about 30 minutes long.

  2. Test Topics

    The Chemistry test covers 3 broad subject areas; namely, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. A further break-up of these subject areas is listed as follows:

    General Chemistry- The Theory of Atoms, Chemical Bonding and Reactions, Solubility, Kinetic Theory and Radioisotopes.

    Organic Chemistry- The Structures, Properties and Reactions of Organic Compounds.

    Biochemistry- The Basic Processes of Biochemistry such as DNA, RNA, Proteins, Lipids etc.

    The Biochemistry subject area of this test was included in July 2012. Due to the introduction of Biochemistry, the new format of the test will have a little less emphasis on the Chemical Bonding subject area, especially on topics involving Chemical Nomenclature.

  3. Question Types

    The Chemistry test consists of 48 multiple choice questions. Out of these 48 questions, 8 are not scored and are present for research purposes. Each  item is generally in the form of a question or an incomplete sentence. The correct answer to the question or the missing portion of the incomplete sentence must be picked from the 4 available choices. It is important to note that all the multiple choices may contain a construct related to the item, but only one of those choices will be most relevant to the item. Generally, 40%-50% of the questions will be from General Chemistry, 40% from Organic Chemistry and 10%-20% from Biochemistry. To take a look at some samples questions in the Chemistry test, you may visit the official website and look under the "Resources" link on that site - www.pcatweb.info.

  4. Test Scores

    All the questions of the test will be scored electronically. The official score transcript will display an electronic scaled score for the Chemistry test section, along with the display of student percentiles with lower scores during the same testing period. Since the test does not have a pass or fail criterion, you must check with the colleges you are applying to about their minimum recommended cut-offs for the Chemistry test. The colleges decide on their cut-offs based on the average composite test percentile for a particular semester. This means that your performance is measured relative to the performance of other students who took the test in the same period of the year. While some colleges may place more emphasis on the test scores over the scores in the other test sections, other colleges may prefer those students with a minimum overall test score. Therefore, be sure to check with your preferred college on their score requirements.

What and How to Prepare for PCAT Chemistry?

You could follow the following simple guidelines to plan your Chemistry test preparation:

  • Cover all the above-mentioned subject-areas and topics of the test. To learn about a detailed break-up of the topics, download the Blueprint from the official website.

  • Gather material for all the subject-areas of the test via preparation guides, books, online study materials, practice questions etc.

  • Try the practice test from the website and focus on the Chemistry section of the test. This practice test will give you a simulation of the actual test. Also, the diagnostic report that is provided at the end of the test, will provide you a clear idea of which Chemistry subjects you are strong or weak in.

  • Gather more material on your weak Chemistry topics using Google or other web search tools.

  • Plan your test preparation effort according to the weight-age of the subject-areas mentioned earlier in this article. In general, there are least number of questions in Biochemistry, which was introduced in July 2012.

In conclusion, the Chemistry test is an important part of the PCAT test and success in this test is crucial to your admission into your dream pharmacy college.