PCAT Scores' Interpretation

What Does Your PCAT Scorecard Reflect?

The PCAT is a standardized test administered by Pearson VUE. It helps in placing students to the appropriate pharmacy colleges. It is completely endorsed by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, AACP. The AACP also works with Pearson to monitor the test and makes sure that it accurately assesses the requirements of pharmacy colleges and the skills of the students. Neither the AACP nor Pearson has given any rigid cut or passing score for the test. This is because the scores of PCAT should be used in combination with other factors that are as important for giving or denying admission to the students.

Scaled Scores and Percentile Ranks

There are two types of PCAT scores: scaled scores and percentile ranks. The interpretation of PCAT scores is given as follows:

  1. Scaled Scores: During scoring, the total number of correct responses for each section is taken. This is termed as the raw score. This raw score is then converted into a scaled score on a scale ranging from 200 to 800. There is a scaled score for each section. The average of scaled scores is also taken. This average is called the composite score. This is the interpretation of scores based on the scaled scores.

  2. Percentile Scores: After the scores of all candidates are taken. A percentile rank from 1 to 99 is assigned to each candidate for each section. An average of these percentile ranks for all sections makes up the composite percentile rank of the test. For instance, if a candidate scores 80 percentile ranking, this means that 80 percent of the candidates have scored below him or her. Hence, the percentile ranking describes a candidate's performance which is relative to or corresponding to the remaining candidates.

Interpretation of PCAT Writing Scores

The interpretation of scores is different for the Writing Sections. This is because there is no correct answer to the essay questions and the candidates are evaluated on the basis of their ability to compose essays. Till January 2012, the Writing scores were reported on a scale that ranged from 1.0 to 5.0. In this form of interpretation, two different Writing scores were given:

  1. Conventions of Language and

  2. Problem Solving.

Since July 2012, only a single Writing score has been reported for both the above mentioned factors.

There are two scorers who are brought in to score one essay. Both of them give their scores and the average of the scores awarded by them is taken as the final Writing Score. The Writing score differs from one test to another. This happens because of the differences that exist between the content and the difficulty of the essay prompt and the differences in candidates who are appearing for a certain test.

For the same reasons, a candidate's Writing score should always be presented corresponding to the mean score for the test for which the scored has been given. Any other interpretation  would be incorrect.

What does your PCAT Scorecard Reflect?

The official test website contains a lot of information on the basics of scores, its reliability and hence, validity. If you have any issues that need to be addressed with respect to the test, you can write to scoring.serves@pearson.com.

The PCAT official transcript contains the following components:

  1. Candidate's Personal Information: This is the same information that you had provided at the time of registration. Since, this is the only scorecard the pharmacy colleges will accept, this information must be correct.

  2. The Most Recent PCAT Scores: The most recent scores are displayed at the top. Section-wise scaled scores and percentile ranks are given. The composite scaled score and composite percentile rank are also given.

  3. Writing Score: This is mentioned on a side. Two values are displayed corresponding to the Writing section: the candidate's score and the mean score.

  4. Previous Scores: The score report also lists down the four most recent PCAT scores that have been attained by the candidate in the past five years.

The interpretation of PCAT is an important point that you need to consider before taking your exam. You must know what to expect in your score report. You should also have a fair idea of the information that the pharmacy colleges will receive. Only then you will be focused and determined to stretch your PCAT score to the maximum!