PCAT Q&A

We’ve received quite a few questions about the PCAT exam this week. Congratulations to all of you who took it in July!


What are the minimum scores you consider?

We recommend that students get at least 50% on the composite and sub sections to be competitive for our program. Scoring 70% and above on the composite section will make you most competitive. Our average PCAT composite score for accepted students the past few years has been 88%. Please note that is the average; many students fall below and above that score.

I didn’t do as well on the PCAT as I hoped. Should I retake it?

ūüôĀ First off, sorry to hear that.

You can, if you feel that you will do better. If you fall below our minimums (see the first sentence in the question above), you might want to study and retake the PCAT. We do superscore; if you take it multiple times, we will consider your highest overall scores.

Since you superscore…if i retake the PCAT, can I focus on the sections I did poorly on the first time, and not focus (ie-not try as hard) on the sections I did well on before?

This is not the best strategy. If we see that you aced your biology subsection the first time and significantly decreased your biology score¬†the second time around, this might be cause for concern. I would recommend focusing your studying beforehand on the sections you didn’t do as well in, and still try your hardest on all sections when you take the exam.

Which sections are most important in the admissions process?

We focus most heavily on the composite score, and the biology, chemistry, and quantitative sections. The critical reading and essay are important, but we prefer to assess those areas in other parts of your application.


What other questions do you have about the PCAT exam?

PCAT prep course

Are you preparing to take the PCAT this summer or fall? One of our student organizations, Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), will be offering a PCAT prep course at the Chapel Hill and Asheville campuses this summer.

From SNPhA:
“We will provide detailed instruction in Biology, Chemistry, Math, and English. We will also be covering test-taking strategies, administering pre- and post-exams, and hosting a mock MMI session to simulate the pharmacy school interview process.”

For more information or to register, please visit their website: https://pharmacy.unc.edu/events/the-pcat-preparatory-review/

Monthly questions

Here are some of the questions we’ve gotten from students this month.


Which prerequisite courses do I need to complete?

If you will have a bachelor’s degree completed by the time you enroll in the PharmD program, you need to complete the math and science prerequisites. If you will not have a¬†bachelor’s degree completed by the time you enroll in the PharmD program, you need to complete the math and science prerequisites and the general education prerequisites.

Should I wait to submit my application until after I’ve taken the PCAT?

No! We have a rolling admissions process, so as soon as you submit your completed application and PharmCAS verifies it and releases the application to us, we can start reviewing it. We do not invite students for interviews until we’ve reviewed a completed application (completed includes your PCAT scores), so we will not invite you for an interview until we receive your PCAT scores, but we can begin reviewing the rest of your application.

When do I apply? I want to start the program in Fall 2017.

You should apply this admissions cycle. You apply one year before enrolling, so the application opening in mid-July 2016 is for students interested in starting the program in Fall 2017.

I transferred colleges during my sophomore year; how will my GPA be calculated?

PharmCAS will calculate a cumulative GPA based on all universities attended and all courses taken. Just a head’s up – PharmCAS calculates all courses into the GPA (even if you repeated the course and had the original grade forgiven at your school).

Can I continue taking prerequisites while I’m applying?

Yes. You can indicate on your PharmCAS application which courses you intend to take in the fall and spring semester. You will have the opportunity to log in to your application during the Academic Update period (usually December 15 – February 15) to update fall grades.
All prerequisite courses should be completed by the end of the spring semester (May 31).

PCAT Prep

Have you already taken the PCAT? If you’re applying for Fall 2016 entry, the latest you can take the PCAT for the first time is November 2015.

You can register for the PCAT here. There’s also great information on that website regarding what is included on the exam, and sample tests and questions.

The PCAT is just one factor we review in the Admissions process to determine your academic preparedness. Last year, the average PCAT composite score for accepted students in our program was 88%. We recommend that students score at least a 70% on the composite score to be competitive.