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Applying early decision - should I retake my PCAT?

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Buk Lau

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Hello guys and gals,

I'm applying ED for VCU and I'm currently signed up for the July PCAT, but at this point I don't know how well I am going to do on the test. If I start studying today, I won't have that much time to study because I'm volunteering at two places and working lots of hours on top of taking a summer class. I've already taken the PCAT twice and if I don't get a good score on this one, then I feel like it will hurt my chances because they will say, "This guy's just messing around." IN reality, the first time I took the PCAT I didn't study, I just did it to get a feel for it before I actually studied for it. Btw, my gpa is about a 3.5. Here are my scores:

July 2011

Verbal 32
Biology 40
Reading Comp. 48
Quant 16
Chemistry 68
Comp 37

Obviously tragically horrible
But I studied a fair amount before the next one and my scores improved

September 2011

Verbal 77
Biology 54
Reading Comp 38
Quant 54
Chemistry 53
Comp 56

This grade is too low, obviously, but I know that there have been people who get in with low PCATs and I'm doing ED, so the competition isn't as much. I just want to know if it is worth taking the risk to take the PCAT again or not.
 

Guitarmacy

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The only way I could see a retake being worthwhile is if you studied hardcore or you had the answer key.

But seriously, either put your volunteering/job on hold for the next month or withdraw from the test. Another potentially mediocre score is only going to make it look worse. I'd focus on your job and EC's and cross my fingers, and if you don't get in there's always next summer to kick butt on the PCAT.
 

Buk Lau

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The only way I could see a retake being worthwhile is if you studied hardcore or you had the answer key.

But seriously, either put your volunteering/job on hold for the next month or withdraw from the test. Another potentially mediocre score is only going to make it look worse. I'd focus on your job and EC's and cross my fingers, and if you don't get in there's always next summer to kick butt on the PCAT.
Do you think I should call VCU admissions and ask them if I should retake or not? lol it's kind of a crazy question but this is an important decision I'm making right now and would just like to know how much they weigh PCAT scores into the overall application
 

Guitarmacy

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I would check with admissions because the school I'm planning on attending doesn't care how many times you take the PCAT, they take only the highest score from each section which is kinda cool.
 

Krnluve24

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As I understand, early decision is for those who have exceptional stats. I would just apply regular admission and also to other schools at the same time.
 

xtsukiyox

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As I understand, early decision is for those who have exceptional stats. I would just apply regular admission and also to other schools at the same time.

I thought early decision was for people who had a clear #1 choice & could complete their application early. :shrug:
 

DrDrugs2012

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Apparently, I am always the bearer of bad news.

Forget early decision, if you want to get into VCU, I'd take it again period.
Your scores aren't very competitive and while I am sure there are students who have been accepted at some pharmacy school with scores worse than yours, and maybe even VCU, but the number of those students are fewer than you think. The people who succeed in life are by and large those who place themselves in a position to succeed... and in that light, you need to improve your PCAT scores to improve your chances of achieving your goal.

Just do the raw math. Over 30,000 students take the PCAT each year, and about 10,000 matriculate each year. That means 1 in 3 applicants are accepted overall. Assume for a moment that most of these applicants are academically and statistically towards the top of the total applicant pool. That means the as a general rule, the top 1/3 or 66th percentile is the cutoff of applicants are accepted. Obviously, its not a hard cutoff as people do get accepted to pharmacy schools with scores lower than that... but if you aren't aiming for 70th percentile, and aren't achieving it, you need to try harder to place yourself in a winning position.
 
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Buk Lau

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Apparently, I am always the bearer of bad news.

Forget early decision, if you want to get into VCU, I'd take it again period.
Your scores aren't very competitive and while I am sure there are students who have been accepted at some pharmacy school with scores worse than yours, and maybe even VCU, but the number of those students are fewer than you think. The people who succeed in life are by and large those who place themselves in a position to succeed... and in that light, you need to improve your PCAT scores to improve your chances of achieving your goal.

Just do the raw math. Over 30,000 students take the PCAT each year, and about 10,000 matriculate each year. That means 1 in 3 applicants are accepted overall. Assume for a moment that most of these applicants are academically and statistically towards the top of the total applicant pool. That means the as a general rule, the top 1/3 or 66th percentile is the cutoff of applicants are accepted. Obviously, its not a hard cutoff as people do get accepted to pharmacy schools with scores lower than that... but if you aren't aiming for 70th percentile, and aren't achieving it, you need to try harder to place yourself in a winning position.
I guess you're right. It's just that I work 30 hours a week and I do so much right now, I'm always exhausted to study. I'm going to try and study an hour a day starting with chemistry, then quickly review A&P/Microbiology and move to Math, which I'll probably leave 2 weeks for or something. But I keep telling myself, the rest of my application is solid, if I can just get a decent score on the PCAT..
 

Krnluve24

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I thought early decision was for people who had a clear #1 choice & could complete their application early. :shrug:

Yes, early decision is for those who has a clear number one choice, but ultimately, schools only want to give ED seats to those who are cream of the crop. It's like matching, you choose the school as number one and the school choose you as the same. Without exceptional stats, ED applications will get thrown out immediately. I know because I personally talked to a dean about this.
 
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Corpseman

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I guess you're right. It's just that I work 30 hours a week and I do so much right now, I'm always exhausted to study. I'm going to try and study an hour a day starting with chemistry, then quickly review A&P/Microbiology and move to Math, which I'll probably leave 2 weeks for or something. But I keep telling myself, the rest of my application is solid, if I can just get a decent score on the PCAT..


Dr. Collins and the Pearson practice tests.
 

xtsukiyox

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Yes, early decision is for those who has a clear number one choice, but ultimately, schools only want to give ED seats to those who are cream of the crop. It's like matching, you choose the school as number one and the school choose you as the same. Without exceptional stats, ED applications will get thrown out immediately. I know because I personally talked to a dean about this.

I submit that if you're "thrown out" of ED, you'd be thrown out of a regular applicant pool.

Then again, what do I know? My experience is with a school whose rolling application cycle gave me a "yes" answer before the ED apps had even cut off. :cool:

I would certainly call the school & see if I could get an answer as to whether applying ED with less than stellar stats could hurt me before I did it.

PS, I keep reading ED as a different acronym entirely, which is cracking me up. Oh, sophomoric humor.
 

Buk Lau

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Dr. Collins and the Pearson practice tests.
Thanks, I do have dr collins and I will pretty much go through the chem section and study the important stuff/leave out the complex formulas. Last time I took the PCAT, I literally memorized the biology packet, but obviously it wasnt good enough - I remember thinking about EASY questions that I got wrong after the test and being like, how can I be so dumb?! I won't give an example because it would be revealing the test but I know I missed insanely easy questions that I would have known the answer to otherwise.


Also, in response to tsukiyo, I think I'm going to call the school and ask exactly that.
 

hello sammi

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Yes, early decision is for those who has a clear number one choice, but ultimately, schools only want to give ED seats to those who are cream of the crop. It's like matching, you choose the school as number one and the school choose you as the same. Without exceptional stats, ED applications will get thrown out immediately. I know because I personally talked to a dean about this.

This must vary from one institution to another. My #1 choice school offers preference to in-state students as they have a set number of seats they want to fill every class with residents. As a result, they are currently encouraging us to apply ED to fill those in state seats as quickly as possible. For us, it has nothing to do with stats.
 

Krnluve24

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This must vary from one institution to another. My #1 choice school offers preference to in-state students as they have a set number of seats they want to fill every class with residents. As a result, they are currently encouraging us to apply ED to fill those in state seats as quickly as possible. For us, it has nothing to do with stats.
I agree that ED selection varies from one school to another. But if a school only give ED preference to in-stater, what if a student have a low gpa and/or pcat score? Will they still admit sub-par students just because they apply ED? I originally was going to apply for ED since I figured that I would be showing my great desire for one particular school and also because it is the only school I really want to attend due to family and location. But after talking to the dean, I felt my logic was flawed because they might perceive my action as lack of confidence in competing with other applicants. Anyway, I ended up applying for regular admission and was offered with the first available interview with other ED applicants. Eventually, I was accepted a few weeks after.
 
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Guitarmacy

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I agree that ED selection varies from one school to another. But if a school only give ED preference to in-stater, what if a student have a low gpa and/or pcat score? Will they still admit sub-par students just because they apply ED? I originally was going to apply for ED since I figured that I would be showing my great desire for one particular school and also because it is the only school I really want to attend due to family and location. But after talking to the dean, I felt my logic was flawed because they might perceive my action as lack of confidence in competing with other applicants. Anyway, I ended up applying for regular admission and was offered with the first available interview with other ED applicants. Eventually, I was accepted a few weeks after.

My understanding was that if you apply ED with average stats and they don't admit you right away they will put you on the wait list if there is still a chance to admit you after they see all the regular admission applicants. Also, it sounds like OP is still taking classes, and where I'm applying you need to have all your classes finished to apply ED.
 

hello sammi

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My understanding was that if you apply ED with average stats and they don't admit you right away they will put you on the wait list if there is still a chance to admit you after they see all the regular admission applicants. Also, it sounds like OP is still taking classes, and where I'm applying you need to have all your classes finished to apply ED.

The above is what my school does as well. If you don't have superior stats then you're waitlisted until they finish with the rest of the applicants. But, they way they're making it sound, if you have decent stats, an in-state resident, and apply ED you're a shoe in. They also have preference for in state applicants during the regular admission cycle, they just prefer to have those seats filled asap -they're recruiting hardcore for it.
 

ACE Rx

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I guess you're right. It's just that I work 30 hours a week and I do so much right now, I'm always exhausted to study. I'm going to try and study an hour a day starting with chemistry, then quickly review A&P/Microbiology and move to Math, which I'll probably leave 2 weeks for or something. But I keep telling myself, the rest of my application is solid, if I can just get a decent score on the PCAT..

I would say based on your trend you have a good chance of improving your score to at least somewhat competitive range or better. However, you're going to have to start to learn to prioritize.

Obviously, working 30 hours a week and falling asleep at the PCAT books / practice exams is not doing you much good. Sure, you can complain and make excuses when/if you get an interview of how you had to work so hard and that's why your grades are low and MAYBE they will give a f*** or just tell you to piss off. Why take that chance? Put yourself in the most favorable position you possibly can and everything should be alright.
 

Buk Lau

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I would say based on your trend you have a good chance of improving your score to at least somewhat competitive range or better. However, you're going to have to start to learn to prioritize.

Obviously, working 30 hours a week and falling asleep at the PCAT books / practice exams is not doing you much good. Sure, you can complain and make excuses when/if you get an interview of how you had to work so hard and that's why your grades are low and MAYBE they will give a f*** or just tell you to piss off. Why take that chance? Put yourself in the most favorable position you possibly can and everything should be alright.
Thanks for the advice. Actually, if I do make that statement, it might depend on the interviewer of how they see my story.
 
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