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Applying in June...

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by Pharmwannab, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. Pharmwannab

    Pharmwannab Senior Member
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    Well, the time is drawing near. It's still 6 months off but I have a whole crapload of things to accomplish by then. So, was wondering if people who've already been through the process could help me out a bit.

    First, I'm tentatively planning on taking the PCAT in June, but not so sure anymore, reason being that I really won't have time to study and I'll definitely need time to study. I did well on the Kaplan diag but I just can't feel comfortable unless I've had time to go over the material. So I have a few dilemnas with this. If I take it in June but don't feel I did well, is there an option for the test to not be counted? They do this for the MCAT and I'm hoping they have it for the PCAT as well. If I don't do well and have to take it again, I just don't want schools seeing that I took it twice. As my GPA is already not so great, I think it might hurt me a lot for them to see that I've taken it twice. Also, if I do end up taking the October exam, and I've already applied to schools in June, will they not even consider me for an interview until they've recieved my PCAT scores or what? Obviously, that wouldn't happen with schools that don't require the PCAT. But the thing is, I kind of wanted to show schools that don't require the PCAT that despite having a lower GPA I can still handle the pharmacy school (assuming I do well on the PCAT), and so I don't want them to just look at my app. without having seen my PCAT scores and then just disregard it. Will that be an issue if I apply before taking my PCAT or can I tell them that I'm awaiting PCAT scores even though they don't require them? Also, how long does it generally take for pharmacy schools to recieve my scores through pharmcas after I've taken the test?

    Ok next issue is the personal statement. How long did it take you all to write your personal statement. I understand that they're about a page long, 500 words or so. Is this about right? Also, are there any good services that can help you to put your thoughts into a profound, coherant prose? I'm a decent writer as far as grammar and spelling goes, but I'm not exactly a profound writer so I would need the most help with that. When should I start writing it?

    I'm trying to have it so all of my materials (with the exception of my PCAT scores) will be available to submit the day that applications open up. I guess I'm just worried that not having my PCAT scores for at least a month or two after I apply will really hurt my chances... any thoughts to this?

    Also any other tips or advice on what I should be doing are appreciated. Unfortunately there are very few students from my school applying to pharm. school next year so I don't have a lot of help, and my advisor is only available on a limited basis, not to mention he actually knows less than I do. So I'm kind of counting on you guys a bit :p I'll of course call up various schools to try to find out more info, but I appreciate all the help I can get.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. DHG

    DHG Senior Member
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    Do everything early. Get it over with. If you have *most* of your coursework done, DO IT NOW.



    The earlier the better. Don't put it off if you are ready. Don't let fear of the PCAT keep you from taking it in June. Study as much as you can and do it.



    Trust me, you don't want to be doing applications stuff in the late fall when others who did it in June are already getting interview invites. I think getting it in early is a HUGE advantage, especially for schools with rolling admissions.


    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
     
  3. calrx

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    First of all, I think it's great that you are planning this far in advance. Determination and perseverance count for a lot! Ok, I'll try and answer some of your questions-

    1. There is a "No Score" option for the PCAT. If you go to the test and feel you aren't going to do well on it you can choose this option. However, you will be blowing $105.

    2. I don't know why you think it looks bad if the schools see that you took the PCAT more than once. If anything, it shows that you are determined to succeed. I know TONS of people who have taken the PCAT twice... and I've never heard if it being looked down upon by an admissions committee.

    3. I was a PCAT 1st timer this past October and submitted my PharmCAS application about a month before I took the PCAT. In my experience, many schools will hold your application until your PCAT scores have arrived. This is what I'm thinking: If you are planning on submitting your PharmCAS application in the summer, but decide to take the PCAT in October for the 1st time, then your scores will be available end of November/early December and many schools will not review your application until then; thus almost defeating the purpose of applying so early. I highly recommend applying as early as possible, especially if your GPA is on the lower end. If I were you, I would make time to review for the PCAT and take it in June. After you get your scores, if you feel as though you should retake it in October, by all means do it. Almost all schools look at your highest scores when evaluating your application anyway.

    4. If a school doesn't require the PCAT I don't know how much of an influence it would have on your application if you chose to give them your scores. For example, if you apply to some California schools and submit your PCAT scores (assuming you do very well) it may enhance your application but I don't think it's going to sway an admissions committee to accept you. I say this only because if a pharmacy schools deems something like the PCAT not a requirement for admission, then it cannot be a deciding factor in the admissions process just because some students happen to send their scores anyway. Maybe I'm completely wrong and someone else could clarify this?

    5. As far as your personal statement goes, I would recommend working on it little by little. Whenever I'm writing anything of importance I like to walk away and come back to it after I've cleared my head. Your PS isn't something you want to bang out in an hour. I also think it is a good idea to have a couple people read it over. They will be able to provide you with a few outsiders' opinions.

    I don't know about any good PS services. I'm sure if you do a google search you will find a few websites with tips for writing your personal statement. Here are a few general unwritten PS "rules" -

    A. Before writing your PS, I think it's important for you to sit and write down what you want the admissions committee to take away from reading your PS. Your PS should contain information that cannot be found in the rest of your application.

    B. Use your PS as your time to shine... keeping in mind that "shine" does not equal being egotistical/arrogant/boasting. It is ok to point out your accomplishments, just be careful with how you word things.

    C. Be yourself and speak from the heart. This is not the time to try and dazzle the admissions committee with giant words and fabricated sentences.

    D. Make sure you clearly indicate WHY you want to go to pharmacy school. This can often be the most difficult part for people. I suggest writing down a list of reasons and make a point to incorporate them into your PS.

    E. Be creative. I was told that many times admissions committees will read the 1st paragraph, skim through the middle stuff, and read the last paragraph. If this is true, you want your 1st and last paragraphs to be powerful and interesting.

    Hope this helps! Good luck :luck:
     
  4. highlyfavored

    highlyfavored obligated to serve God...
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    I'm new to this too, but I can answer a few questions. :)
    1. Yes, there is a no score option. If you finish your test and don't feel good about it, you can bubble in the no score option.
    2. This sucks, but the schools you apply to will see every time you've taken the PCAT in the last 5yrs(I think or 4yrs). They send the schools a "transcript". I asked harcourt this question, because like you, I didn't want schools to see I had taken it and didn't do so well the first time.
    3. As for getting an interview before your pcat scores are received, it depends on the school. If you have a really strong application, they could invite you pending your pcat scores.
    4. Personal statement..hmmm. I can't really put a time on how long it took me, but it did take some time. I didn't sit down and write it all at once. I think there is a thread about help with writing a personal statement. You can do a search and it should come up.
    5. Not having your PCAT scores in for a month and a half will certainly not hurt your chances if you have everything else in. The schools know that it takes ~6wks for this test to be scored.
    My advice would be to study your butt off for the pcat and complete everything as soon as possible. You've got 6 months to write your personal statement, think of ppl for LORs, and study. Of course on your supplemental applications they will usually ask something specific to be included in your personal statement, such as "why did you choose this school". If you have a basic personal statement ready, it will be less frustrating to just add this part to it. Well, I hope this helps! Best of luck! :D
     
  5. rxlynn

    rxlynn Senior Member
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    Couple of other comments - try to get your LORs going fairly early. I did not realize that PharmCAS does not hold your application for missing LORs, so I spent several weeks thinking that everything was complete because I knew that PharmCAS had mailed the applications to the schools - then I found out differently. And, one of my schools told me that they only get a mailing from PharmCAS once per month, so there was basically a one-month delay in their review of my application materials.

    Realize that even after you write the "main" personal statement that goes with the PharmCAS application, you will more than likely have to write essays with your supplemental applications for the different schools. Obviously, this can get very time consuming.

    Set up a folder for each school you are applying to, and keep a copy of all relevant information (e-mail from them, etc.) I'm only applying to two schools so I thought I didn't need to be quite so organized - wrong! It will help you keep track of when you sent stuff where, answers to questions as they come up about the specific schools, etc.
     
  6. ICA

    ICA Senior Member
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    I think it is good practice to "go through the motions" this year even though you are applying for next...

    Set up a PharmCAS account and start filling it out. (TIP: There are a maximum of 10 activities you can list under extracurriculars. If you don't have 10, start finding activities (volunteer/leadership/etc.) in the upcoming year to fill up the maximum (10) allowed.)

    Print out the supplementals for each school and start looking them over.

    It has been my experience that the supplemental essay topics do not change (often) so you can get a head start on writing them now.

    HTH
     
  7. ICA

    ICA Senior Member
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    I second DHG's comment.

    APPLY EARLY!

    It's the best way to improve your application at rolling-admissions schools.
     
  8. Pharmwannab

    Pharmwannab Senior Member
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    Thanks all, appreciate the responses. Very helpful :) I definitely have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time.
     

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