PCAT What's a good score?

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Next Step Test Prep Tutor
7+ Year Member
Apr 29, 2014
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This is a question we get a LOT from students, and it's such an important question! While there might not be a single answer to this question, we can help you determine a good score for you based on your personal goals.

The median PCAT score is about 400 (50th percentile) on a scale of 200-600, meaning that half of everyone who has taken the PCAT scores lower than 400, and the other half scores higher. Remember, that’s about average, though. Average might not get you into the school you’re hoping for.

The general wisdom seems to be that an 80th percentile ranking is necessary to be a competitive applicant, but in reality, the score and percentile ranking you really want to aim for is linked to several different pieces of your application. The PCAT score you should aim for depends on:

1. The Schools You’re Applying To
The majority of pharmacy schools will require applicants to take the PCAT. Every school that requires you to submit a PCAT score will publish the average score of accepted students. Remember, though, that this is the average. Some students will be admitted with a slightly higher score, and some will be admitted with a slightly lower score, too. It really depends on the strength of their overall application.

Generally, by aiming for a higher than average score, you know that your score will speak for itself and attract the attention of the admissions committee. If the rest of your application is strong, then a higher than average PCAT is the icing on the cake! Your chances of acceptance will always be higher if your application is as strong as possible. However, don't knock a school if your score is lower than their average PCAT score.e - remember, about half of their current students scored lower than average!

2. Your GPA
The programs you’re interested in will not only list the average PCAT score of accepted students, but also the average GPA. Like PCAT scores, many students will be admitted with a slightly higher or lower GPA.

If your GPA is lower than the average for the program you’re applying to, an impressive PCAT score will often make up for it because it shows that you're capable of learning really hard material. The opposite applies, too - if your PCAT score is a little lower than average, an outstanding GPA can sometimes fill in that gap.

Unfortunately, your GPA is difficult to change by the time you’ve begun preparing for and taking the PCAT. If you're still in your sophomore or junior year, keep your grades up and finish strong, especially in your science classes. Your GPA is another piece to the puzzle that can help you figure out how competitive you will be for any given pharmacy program, and there might still be time to give it a boost!

3. The Strength of Your Application
Pharmacy schools look at the "big picture" in potential students; your PCAT score is just one part of your entire application. It is, however, an important one. An impressive PCAT score will wow admissions committees and help put your application on top of the stack. You can take a look at what makes a strong pharmacy school applicant here.

In addition to your PCAT and GPA, there are several other pieces that complete the puzzle. Your academic history will convince admissions committees that you will excel in pharmacy school, but they also want to know that you’re going to do well as a pharmacist. A well-rounded application helps show a three-dimensional version of you as an applicant. So, don’t just worry about the PCAT. Participate in extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you, and gain valuable pharmacy experience to set realistic expectations about a career in pharmacy. Start working on a compelling personal statement that shares your voice and your passion in your application .

Set Realistic Goals
You probably already know where you’d like to apply, but you may not know if those goals are realistic when you’re just getting started with your PCAT prep. Taking a diagnostic exam when you begin can really help you to determine where you’re starting and where you're headed!

Next Step offers a free Full-Length PCAT exam that can help you get started with your prep. Once you understand your starting point, your strengths, and your weaknesses, you can really get a feel for the exam. The diagnostic exam is just one of the steps you should take when beginning to set your goals and structure your prep. Research the 6 questions you should be asking yourself before setting a prep timeline here.

As always, we wish you the best of luck with your PCAT prep!

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