PCAT Test for Pharmacy School

What is the Importance of PCAT?

The pharmacy school of PCAT test refers to the Pharmacy College Aptitude Test that was developed by Harcourt Assessment, and which is now administered by Pearson's Assessment & Information Group, with which Harcourt Assessment was merged in the year 2008. Many colleges offering Pharmacy courses ask for test scores from their applicants to assess their abilities to take up Pharmacy courses in their colleges. This is the reason why PCAT is an important assessment examination for all Pharmacy aspirants. Hence, they should not ignore it, but prepare for it thoroughly and perform well in it.

The test can be taken about 2-3 times in a year, on the dates on which it is available. One has to register, well in advance, for taking this test on a chosen date. This test consists of multiple-choice and long-answer sections. The marking for it is done on a scaled scoring system. Performance transcripts are despatched to the test takers and their desired colleges in about six weeks of appearing for this test.

Format of the PCAT

This test is a standardized Pharmacy aptitude test, which is taken by Pharmacy aspirants from all over the United States of America. The test takers are tested on seven content areas, five of which are based on questions with short, multiple-choice answers, and a couple of Writing sections in which the test takers have to write out long answers to questions. The five test content areas with objective-type questions are: Verbal Ability, Chemistry, Biology, Quantitative Ability and Reading Comprehension.

The Different Sections of the PCAT

The different sections of the pharmacy school test are detailed out as follows, in the order of their organization in the test:

  1. PCAT Writing- This section, of thirty minutes duration, consists of a single question, to which an examinee has to write out an answer in the form of an essay. The question is typically problem-oriented, for which a solution-oriented answer is expected from the examinee. This section tends to test the examinees' problem-solving abilities along with their grammatical and language usage skills.

  2. PCAT Verbal Ability- This thirty-minute test presents 48 questions in the form of Analogies and Sentence Completion questions, to test the vocabulary and language usage skills of the examinees.

  3. PCAT Biology- This content area, with its forty eight questions that need to be answered in thirty minutes, tests an examinee’s knowledge in three sub-areas: General Biology, Microbiology, and Anatomy and Physiology.

  4. PCAT Chemistry- This pharmacy school test section presents 48 objective-type questions, which need to be answered in 30 minutes. This section tests  basic knowledge in General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

  5. PCAT Writing- This section is similar to the earlier Writing section in the number of questions that need to be answered, the time duration for answering, and the purpose of the test. This Pharmacy school test is administered in the second part of the examination, which is resumed after a short break after taking the first four sections of the test.

  6. PCAT Reading Comprehension- This test, which has 48 questions that need to be answered in 50 minutes, presents six short passages based on scientific topics. This section tests an examinee's ability to comprehend, analyse and evaluate a given text.

  7. Quantitative Ability- This section of the pharmacy school test assesses an examinee’s basic knowledge in Mathematics. The sub-content areas that are tested in this section are: Arithmetic, Algebra, Probability, Pre-Calculus and Calculus.

The total duration of the test is around 4.5 hours.

PCAT Scoring

The PCAT examinees are awarded four different types of scores:

  1. Section-wise Scores - This refers to the scores obtained by the examinees in individual sections of the test.

  2. Composite Scores - This refers to average of the scores obtained by the examinees in the different sections of the test.

  3. Section-Wise Percentiles - This is the score obtained by the examinees, which is presented in a percentile manner.

  4. Composite Percentiles- This is a composite of the percentiles obtained by the examinees in the different sections of the test.

Scaled scores are awarded to the test takers. The scale for the objective-type question ranges from 200-600, and the scale for the essay type questions ranges from 0-6. The percentiles for the pharmacy school test range from 1 to 99.


The pharmacy school test is an important Pharmacy entrance examination in the United States of America, as most colleges offering Pharmacy courses depend on PCAT scores of applicants to screen them for admission to Pharmacy courses offered by them.