Tips for Scoring 90 Percentile on the PCAT

The PCAT measures a student’s general as well as scientific knowledge as these are essential for admission into pharmacy school. A percentile of 90 is supposed to be a good one, and it can be achieved by following a proper preparation strategy and some tips.
1. Know the test layout and format, well before you start your preparation. The exam will have 240 questions that have multiple choice answers. They will be spread over seven sections, of which two will be writing sections that require the candidate to type in an essay. The other five sections are, biology, chemistry, verbal ability, reading comprehension and quantitative ability. The time limit for each section is 30 minutes except for the reading section that takes 50 minutes. Thus, including a 10 minute break, the entire PCAT test lasts for four hours. Since July 2011, the exam will be computer based.

The PCAT Reading Comprehension Section Review

Most candidates find that the reading comprehension is the most difficult challenge of all sections. This is because the texts are of academic type and too lengthy to read slowly. The Reading Comprehension sub test consists of 48 multiple-choice questions that are asked from six different passages. The entire section must be completed in 50 minutes. The questions split up is as follows, 30% have to do with direct reading comprehension; 40% are to do with analysis of the passage; and 30% require evaluation of the text. The passages will more or less be related to some science subject or topic and will be of undergraduate level of understanding. So, one cannot assume that this section will be a piece of cake.

PCAT Essay Topics and Scoring Procedure

The PCAT essays are classified into different categories. They are health issues, science issues and social, cultural and political issues. Some sample topics in each category are:

A) Health Issues
* Discuss a solution to problems resulting from insufficient supplies of donated organs.
* Discuss a solution to the problem of providing proper health care for those who are not insured.
* Discuss a solution to the problem of promoting healthy dietary habits, especially among young adults and teens.

PCAT Study Routine, Experimental Questions and Scoring Pattern

Experimental Questions on the PCAT

Except for the writing sections, all the others have some questions that do not count towards your PCAT score. These experimental questions are not scored but are used to determine how students perform on new questions and use them for the future tests. In each section, of 48 questions, only 40 of them count towards the score and the remaining 8 are the experimental questions. Candidates will not be capable of identifying the experimental questions from the actual questions as they will be random. So, they must answer every question like it counts for their score.

Tips for a High Score on the PCAT

There is no ideal way to study for the PCAT, no strategy that will give you a 300 with a guarantee. However, you could follow some tips and tricks while preparation so you can score better. Some tips are:
1) Do not start preparing from your undergrad textbooks. This would lead to studying a vast amount of material that will waste a lot of time. However, try to focus only on the topics that are specified as the syllabus for the exam and prepare from good guide books and PCAT preparation material.

PCAT Verbal Ability Section Review

One of the seven sub tests that appear in the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) is the Verbal Ability sub test. This section measures the candidates’ vocabulary and language usage. The words used in this section will not be science-specific. It will cover a wide range of topics. There will be 48 questions in this section that are presented in the multiple choice format and which must be answered in 30 minutes. There will be two types of questions that will appear in the verbal section – the analogies and the sentence completion. 40% of the questions will be of the type sentence completion and the rest 60% will be the analogies.