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Saturday, July 11, 2015

The PCAT: It's Happening!

(Note: The Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) was retired on January 10, 2024, NO PCAT testing dates will be offered during the 2024-25 admissions cycle or beyond.)

So let's just get right to it...

Beginning in 2016 (for students applying for entry in 2017), we will require the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) as part of our admissions requirement.

I'm sure you have many questions.  Since this will be a new requirement for us, we are really interested in hearing what those questions are. (Please please please ask!)  In the meantime, this is a chance to do ANOTHER Q&A! I'll continue to add to the list as questions come in.

What is the PCAT?
From the PCAT website: "The PCAT is a specialized test that helps identify qualified applicants to pharmacy colleges. It measures general academic ability and scientific knowledge necessary for the commencement of pharmaceutical education. The PCAT is constructed specifically for colleges of pharmacy."

Why is UCSF now requiring this?
We believe it provides us with additional information to help us make admissions decisions. As we incorporate this new requirement, we are very clear that it simply is another piece of information that will guide our decision-making.  An applicant's PCAT score will not replace all other important aspects of a candidacy -- strong communication skills, passion for (and understanding of) the profession, supportive and detailed reference letters, academic preparation that indicates ability to handle a rigorous doctoral program, demonstrated leadership, and most important "fit" for our program.  Like any selection process, the more information we have about a candidate, the more confident we are with making a decision. The PCAT provides us with that "more information" piece.

This seems like a sudden decision. Does UCSF always make decisions this quickly?
This was not a quick decision, nor was it an easy decision.  Our admissions committee has been discussing the PCAT for MANY MANY years. In fact, it's been an ongoing discussion for us as long as I can remember.

Will other California schools now require the PCAT as part of their requirement?
I'm not sure. In order to be a prepared applicant for all the programs you are considering, you should check each program's requirement. Approximately 85% of PharmD programs in the United States require the PCAT so this is not a unique or unusual requirement.

I'm applying in 2015 (for entry in 2016), do I have to take the PCAT?
No. Our requirement will begin for applicants who apply in 2016 (for entry in 2017).

Is there a minimum PCAT score UCSF will require/consider/accept?

What is the average PCAT score score for UCSF?
We do not have an average yet, as we have never required this.

What is the range of PCAT scores admitted to UCSF?
We don't have that information as we've never required it. In future years, we'll be able to share this information.

Will a strong PCAT score guarantee my admission to UCSF?
Absolutely not. There are many factors we review as part of admissions to ensure you are academically ready for our rigorous program.

Will a low PCAT score make me an uncompetitive applicant to UCSF?
Not necessarily.  Again, there are many factors we review as part of admissions to ensure you are academically ready for our rigorous program.

When do I take the PCAT?
Testing dates occur throughout the year. You must take the exam in time for your scores to be delivered from PCAT to the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) by our November 1 application deadline. NOTE: It can take 4-6 weeks for your scores to be provided to PharmCAS. For instance, taking the PCAT by mid-September would provide enough time for your scores to be provided to PharmCAS by our November 1 deadline. PCAT exams taken in late-October would result in test scores not being submitted to PharmCAS by our November 1 application deadline. YOU MUST PLAN AHEAD!  We will not accept late or incomplete applications. For testing dates, please visit the PCAT website. 

How do I send my PCAT scores to UCSF? 
All scores must be reported through PharmCAS. All scores will be provided to us through the PharmCAS application. Please follow the instructions provided by PCAT and PharmCAS. In other words, you don't send the scores to us. Instead your scores will be sent to PharmCAS and will be included in your PharmCAS application.

Will UCSF accept scores outside of the PharmCAS application?

Can I waive this requirement?

I don't want to take the PCAT. Are there any other standardized exams (such as the GRE or TOEFL) that will take the place of the PCAT?

I took the PCAT five years ago. Do I have to retake it?
Yes. The PCAT exam has undergone many changes in the past several years (and continues to evolve annually).  These changes informed our decision to implement a PCAT requirement. We believe the exam has moved more towards assessing qualities we look for in successful applicants. Therefore, we expect our applicants to provide a recent/current PCAT exam score.

I'm taking the PCAT exam twice. Which score will you look at? The first? The last? The highest? An average of the two?
This is a good question. We don't have the answer. Since this is new territory for us, it will be something we continue to look at and perhaps develop a policy, should we need to. In the meantime, if you have specific questions, we encourage you to contact our office.

Are you excited that you no longer have to answer the question "Why doesn't UCSF require the PCAT?"


Anonymous said...

Will you (first) be experimenting with this standardized component, initially? In other words, could this requirement be dropped if eventually you don't think, like in the past, that it is an essential tool in assessing applicants? Or is it here to stay, indefinitely?

Joel W. Gonzales said...

It's possible!

Sarah A said...

What led you to consider the PCAT for admissions?

Joel W. Gonzales said...

Sarah: See above question "Why is UCSF now requiring this?"

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