Academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the PCAT
PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) is the official entrance exam for admission in Pharmacy colleges. The PCAT scores are considered by approximately two-thirds of the schools and colleges of pharmacy in the US. The four hour test consisting of 240 multiple choice questions and two topics for writing is designed to identify the eligible applicants for education in the field of pharmacy. PCAT, thus, is a platform to judge the academic knowledge and understanding of concepts to pick the best for the prospective students for pharmaceutical education.
The PCAT examination paper includes five subsets with multiple choice questions and two writing subsets. The multiple choice subset comprise of five content areas including Reading Comprehension, Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry and Quantitative Ability. The multiple choice questions are created in a way to effectively evaluate the knowledge and cognitive abilities of the candidates in the five content areas. The two writing subsets include one essay topic each out of which one is included in scores and one is experimental. Both multiple choice and writing subsets also measure the critical thinking skills of the examinees. Especially in the writing subset, the essaysare directed towards suggesting a solution for a stated problem and the scores are determined on the effectiveness of the solution suggested.
The candidates need to be proficient in variety of topics in the content areas to be able to solve the multiple-choice questions and suggest an effective solution in the writing subset. The five content areas cover diverse topics and are developed to measure various skills of the candidate. For instance, the reading comprehension section examines the recognition and understanding of content through the comprehension, the interpretation ability of the candidate through the analysis of the comprehension and the final evaluation of the answers examines the rationality of the candidate in making judgements. The writing subset covers the various topics related to health issues, scientific research and theories and social, cultural, or political Issues.
The students interested in pursuing career in the field of pharmacy can either choose to be a pharmacist or a pharmaceutical scientist. Being a pharmacist has its own risks attached as any misunderstanding in the prescription in terms of medicine or the calculations can cause serious harm sometimes. It is essential that a candidate wanting a career in pharmacy must have the ability to pay great attention to detail. Without appropriate scientific knowledge and understanding of the medicines it is not possible for pharmacist to make a proper judgement and be dependable for the job. Moreover, awareness about availability of new products and medicines in the market is equally important. The pharmaceutical scientists are involved in the research and development of new drugs. Their work includes discovery of new drugs, drug delivery systems, distribution, metabolism, drug absorption, and elimination characteristics. The pharmaceutical scientists normally work in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, at universities, national laboratories, agencies like FDA etc.
The pharmacy schools through this admission test ensure that the right candidates with the required traits of a prospective pharmacists or researcher in the field of pharmacy are chosen to be educated and trained in the schools. The admissions to the pharmacy schools and colleges highly depend on the academic credentials and the PCAT scores of the examinees. However, the cut-off percentile of PCAT scores, curriculum requirements and academic credentials for the different educational institutions of pharmacy vary according their particular admission requirements. The admission of individual institutions are based on the prerequisite courses and semester hours required for pharmacy education and other requirements including minimum overall GPA (Grade Point Average), minimum PCAT scores, oldest PCAT scores considered etc. Apart from the PCAT scores, the schools also test the personal traits and cognitive skills and knowledge through interviews to select the best of the candidate to shape them into prospective pharmacists and scientists.