Are you attempting to understand your PCAT score? Or maybe you’re anticipating that moment when you receive your official results. Either way, the revealing moment can be pretty stressful. Specific schools are asking for a minimum score, and you feel like you’re lost in the middle, uncertain of where you are.
For those unfamiliar with the specifics of the PCAT, it stands for Pharmacy College Admissions Test. This is the entrance examination for most AACP institutes. One sits for this examination if one attempts to get admitted into a pharmacy school. The exam aims to polish off your skills and test your abilities.
That being said, the moment every candidate anticipates is the result day. But what is a good score range on the PCAT? Read on to find out.
How Do PCAT Scoring Work?
As you might already know, there are two PCAT sections. The first is the multiple-choice segment, and the other is the writing one. However, there are a total of 5 subtests. The multiple-choice section is divided into 4 subtests revolving around various topics. The fifth one is the writing subtest.
Each of those, the multiple choice questions and the essay part are graded separately. Different criteria are used, and the score range will vary accordingly.
Generally speaking, the grading is similar to any other standardized test. For instance, each multiple-choice question will grant you one raw point without deductions for incorrect answers.
Let’s now dive deeper into the grades themselves. The PCAT score range is on a scale of 200 to 600. The score you receive within that range is simply a representation of your overall score, including both sections of the test.
These are things to keep in mind about the multiple-choice section:
- Each question awards you 1 raw point
- Never skip any question, as you won’t be penalized for wrong answers
- Keep track of the time and make sure you answer the question before it runs out
However, the scoring of the writing section is a little more complicated and takes more time. The score ranges from 0 to 6, with 0 being the lowest score possible. It’s also graded quite differently, as it’s not digitally graded like the multiple-choice section.
Instead, two entities assess your writing piece. The first one is a trained reader. The other is a Pearson’s Intelligent Essay Assessor. The first is a person who gives you a score based on their own criteria. The second one is an intelligent program, also known as an automated Internet scoring system.
The program will cross-reference your writing with a vast database, testing for the flow and your overall ability. Moreover, it reads through your essay to find any grammar or spelling errors. This program also evaluates your piece and grades you on the same scale.
Your final writing result will be the average between the two scores received. The only downside of this technique used for grading is that it could take up to 5 weeks to receive your result back. On the other hand, the multiple-choice section results will be announced to you as soon as you complete the section.
What is a Good PCAT Score?
First of all, when you receive your final, official result, you’ll find out that there are two scoring criteria. The first one is the range, which falls between 200-600. The other is your percentile rank, which indicates your placement amongst other test takers.
There is no definitive “good PCAT score,” as different schools often require different grades. However, you’ll still ask what a good PCAT score is, so here is a general guideline according to the two main sections.
Good Score for Writing Section
The classification generally is as followings for the writing section. Remember that the writing score range is often between 1-6. Still, a 0 might be awarded to those who do not abide by the specifications asked for. A guideline to aim for is:
Good Writing Score
- Score of 6: Excellent
- Score of 5: Proficient
- Score of 4: Effective
Average Writing Score
- Score of 3: Satisfactory
- Score of 2: Marginal
Bad Writing Score
- Score of 1: Inadequate
- Score of 0: Disqualified
More often than not, when the two entities grade this section, they often agree on the same score. However, as stated earlier, if the scores vary, then the average of both will be your final grade. Also, remember that you won’t receive a percentile ranking in the writing section. Instead, you’ll see the mean score received stated.
Good Score for Multiple Choice Section
The scaled range is devised from the raw score you obtained from how many answers you’ve received. A good multiple choice score on the multiple-choice section of the exam, along with percentiles, is listed below:
Good MCQ Score
- Range: 400-600
- Percentile: 70-99
Average MCQ Score
- Range: 200-400
- Percentile: 50-77
Bad MCQ Score
- Range: 0-200
- Percentile: <50
However, keep in mind that there are never specific requirements for scores. It could vary greatly depending on the school you want to apply to.
Average PCAT Scores by School
The most prestigious pharmacy schools often accept students with scores higher than 400. Moreover, the national accepted average for pharmacy school admissions varies each year. However, according to Grand Valley State University, it was 54 percentile in 2018.
Here is a list of average PCAT scores by school. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list. However, we’ve listed the top and most sought-after schools:
- The University of Texas at Austin: 70th percentile (=420 scores) with a writing score of at least 3
- University of Florida:40th percentile (=380 scores)
- University of Pittsburgh:70th percentile (=420 scores)
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: 72nd percentile
- University of Houston: 40th percentile
However, remember that the scores and requirements will vary over the years. They’re never constant, and each year the average will differ. That’s because there isn’t a set specification on who these schools administer. However, you must have a strong PCAT score and GPA to increase your chances and competing with others.
How to Interpret PCAT Score?
First of all, note that you’ll receive both your total grade and scores for individual sections. Here are the areas and their overall length:
- Writing: 1 essay for 30 minutes
- Biological Processes:48 MCQ (20% Microbiology, 30% Human Anatomy & Physiology, 50% General Biology) for 45 minutes
- Chemical Processes: 48 MCQ (20% Basic Processes, 30% Organic Chemistry, 50% General Chemistry) for 45 minutes
- Critical Reading: 48 MCQ (30% Evaluation, 30% Comprehension, 40% Analysis) for 50 minutes
- Quantitative Reasoning: 28 MCQ (14% Calculus, 18% Precalculus, 18% Probability & Statistics, 25% Basic Math, 25% Algebra) for 50 minutes
You also have an optional 15-minute break after the “Chemical Processes” section.
Find the PCAT scores explained below. This will provide you with a general idea when trying to interpret your final results.
PCAT Scores on Official Transcript
- The score received is standardized. The score, ranging between 200-600, is derived according to the raw score (the number of questions you answers correctly).
- The final score will be a composition of all the separate grades you’ve achieved on the four sections of the multiple choice segment.
- Next to each MCQ result, you’ll see a percentile that tells you where you stand relative to other candidates.
- The PCAT writing score will range between 1.0-6.0.
- You will also see a mean number next to your writing score, simply the average score achieved by all test takers in that session.
PCAT Scores Analysis
- The grading procedure follows: the raw score is calculated, then the scaled one, and finally, that’s equated to a percentile rank.
- As the ranged score is between 200-600, there are only 40 possible grades in between.
A PCAT score percentile chart can be found below, provided by the Pearson Assessments. The table illustrates how each increase in a raw score results in a rise in the range. That also equates to a change in the percentile rank.
How Long Do PCAT Scores Last?
As soon as you’re done with your exam, you’ll receive something known as the Preliminary Score Report. This will grant you a general idea of your score, the scaled scores, and the percentile ranks. You’ll find your grades for each section.
However, these results are not set in stone. Instead, they will still be subject to verification and scrutiny by Pearson for the next 5 weeks. After that period, you will receive your Official Score Report. This is a document you can access online, showing all your scores, including the writing grade.
But how long will PCAT last? Are they valid forever? No, they are not. The scores will be available for only one year post receiving your results. This allows you to send the official transcript to schools, which is often done on your behalf. You can find a list of PCAT score recipient codes on the official Pearson website.
Keep in mind that schools never accept the preliminary score sheet. That’s for two reasons. First, it doesn’t reflect the accurate results you have obtained. Second of all, it doesn’t portray how much you achieved in your writing section.
What PCAT Score Do You Need?
First of all, there really isn’t a “failing criteria” for the PCAT. The worst you can do is score an overall deficient percentile rank. However, even if you don’t perform as well as you wanted to, you can simply resit for the exam. But keep in mind that you can only repeat the exam 5 times. After that, you must submit an official plea in writing to request permission.
However, there is no set answer to what score you should aim for. This largely depends on the schools you’re going to apply to and what their average acceptance score is. Hence, we recommend you do the following to evaluate where you’re standing. Moreover, it’ll give you an idea of what to aim for:
- Check out the structure of the exam. This shows you the sections you’ll sit for and the subjects under each subtest.
- Contact all the schools you want to apply to. Send out emails asking them what the minimum PCAT score/percentile is.
- Talk to people who have sat for the exam before. Ask them about their scores and which schools they got admitted to.
- Practice as many questions as possible. Also, never neglect the writing section, as that requires its own practice.
Wrapping Things Up: PCAT Score Range: What is Good?
The bottom line is that there is no particular score to aim for. It largely depends on your dream school and what your personal goals are. However, remember that your aim should be to achieve high PCAT scores and a solid GPA. That guarantees you a fighting chance in the intense competition across all schools. However, we recommend you check your desired schools’ average and minimum accepted scores.